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Black Panther Review

February 19, 2018

This would be my official Black Panther review, but I have not seen the movie yet. Not because I was holding off on seeing it as suggested by Aliza Worthington in a recent Medium post – “Black Panther” Is Not For Us, White People – but because I went to the wrong theater.

I really want to see it, but I don’t usually go to the movies on a Tuesday evening when school is in session. Hell, even during the summer we don’t go to movies on Tuesdays. 

I’m not a huge comic book fan. I haven’t seen most of the movies about comic book heroes, so I am unfamiliar with most of the characters in these movies. Truth be told, I had no idea who Black Panther was before I saw the trailer for this movie a few months ago. 

My interested in the movie is because of Danai Gurira, who happens to play Okoye in Black Panther. Having not seen the movie I know nothing about her character except to assume she is badass.

I love Danai Gurira. Everything about her is amazing. Of course I know of her because of her portrayal of Michonne on The Walking Dead. As you all know, I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead – oh wait, that’s a comic book…. I guess to do follow some of them. Anyway, Michonne is one of the best characters on the show. She and Carol have been my favorites for some time. Danai Gurira brings to Michonne not only her kickass sword moves but she is also the calm within the storm. I don’t think we’ve even come close to learning about the character but you can be sure that Danai Gurira will bring the story to life.

Danai Gurira portrays Michonne as a force of nature, and I suspect she brings the same life to Okoye, though there isn’t much info about the character available as I write this.

We left the house early, but as stated above, went to the wrong theater. By the time I figured out my mistake it was too late, we’d never make the trek across town in time to see the movie. I didn’t want to miss the first half hour so I said forget it and we grabbed a bite to eat instead.

I stumbled across the article mentioned above while we were having dinner. My first reaction was one of sever eye rolling. Who is this white woman who speaks for all the black people? Did black people get together and vote for her to be spokesperson? How arrogant of this woman to presume she can speak for black people or tell white people, or any people for that matter, not to see a movie because it isn’t for them.

I suspect the director, actors and producers want all the people to go to this movie. I mean, isn’t that why they made it? As of this writing the movie is projected to have earned $201 million over the opening weekend. 

I’ll update this post when I have actually seen the movie, so be sure to check back. In the mean time, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Was it as good as it looks?

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Did This is Us Live Up to the Hype?

February 5, 2018
Did This is Us live up to the hype?

What do you think, did This is Us live up to the hype? Was it even possible to live up to all the hype that had been created for the beloved show? 

Before we go on, there are spoilers in this post. If you haven’t seen last night’s episode of This is Us, back out and read something else.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way…

This is Us aired immediately after the Super Bowl, which meant it aired close to 10pm CST. I don’t know about you, but that’s late for me. I want to watch the local news through the weather and then I’m in bed. 

I understand why NBC wanted to have the huge audience that was sure to tune in following the Super Bowl, but after watching the game all evening, I really wasn’t ready to focus on the show. In fact, it turns out I missed a lot of important details and ended up having to watch the episode again today.

Did This is Us Live Up to the Hype?

In this episode of This is Us, we finally witness the death of Jack, the beloved father to Randall, Kate and  Kevin and perfect husband to Rebecca. We’ve known for some time that Jack died in a fire, or as it turned out, the result of a fire. It was widely speculated that he would die because he rescued Kate’s dog. While it was not the direct cause, the act didn’t help any.

Jack dies from a heart attack brought on by all the smoke that did damage to his lungs which in turn put stress on his heart. 

Like all This is Us episodes, the story jumps around a timeline that takes place in several times in the past, the present, and now the future. I missed the future reference. I saw it, just didn’t put it together.

I have a love/hate relationship with This is Us, I love the story, I love seeing the underbelly of this nearly broken family, but I have issues with it. They may be unfounded as the story unfolds, but based on the info I have now, I have some problems with it.

All the kids are messed up – Randall has anxiety, Kevin is an addict and Kate has issues about her weight. All of things one would expect children who suffered trauma would experience. The problem is they lost their dad when they were 17. I’m not saying losing a parent at this age isn’t devastating, it is at any age. But 17 years with two parents who not only love the kids but love each other is a rare thing, no matter what timeline they’re in.

These kids had 17 years of being raised by a great dad and attentive and loving mother. Presumably, when they lost their dad, their lives went to shit. 

Except Kate already had issues with food, Randall already had anxiety and Kevin was already an asshole. 

Not that decent parents couldn’t have raised fucked up kids, it does happen, it just seems like the show is trying to lead us to believe the kids are messed up because their dad died (and their mom went on to marry his best friend, though I don’t know that we know when that happens).

All of them are beautifully broken, and yet they manage to lead successful and full lives. I get it, it’s TV. People live in homes that the regular person could never afford on their TV salaries, daycare is never an issue and the bills are always paid. I get it, I really do. 

I don’t think the show lived up to all the hype. Sure, it was sad, but I didn’t cry and I didn’t feel morally crushed. I was not heartbroken. Mostly, because I knew it was coming, and had for nearly two years. I was fairly well prepared for it.

With that in mind, I will say that it was an excellent episode. Mandy Moore did an excellent job portraying a woman who just had her life turn upside down but was unable to break. It simply wasn’t an option, she had to go on. I’m actually more interested in seeing how she copes than the kids for the moment. Yeah, I want to dig deeper into Kate’s disordered eating, but I want to know how Rebecca remains standing. Actually, I know, I’m just excited to see it portrayed in all it’s gritty glory.

Seeing Kevin and his mother reconnect was also satisfying. Kevin continues to be the third wheel when it comes to the kids, at least in relation to their mother, and that is a relationship I would like to explore. Kate has Toby, a man who seems to have it all and then some. He’s thoughtful, caring, loving and I bet he puts the seat down when he’s finished. Randall has Beth, a woman not unlike his mother who is strong as nails. She keeps him grounded and centered so when he falls, like Kate, he has someone to catch him. Kevin doesn’t really have anyone for that because he pushes everyone away, even his mother. Seeing them reach out to one another is refreshing.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow night’s episode if only to see how the grief is managed. I wasn’t satisfied with how Kate’s miscarriage played out, though I concede they probably aren’t finished dealing with that grief, just as Kate still hasn’t grieved the death of her dad.

So did This is Us live up to the hype? In my book no, but then there wasn’t a way it could. And if it had there’s no way the show could continue for much longer. It was an excellent episode that gave many of us a modicum of closure. 

And let’s not forget, Jack is still there. We’ll be seeing him in flashbacks, like we have for the last two years, going forward. Which is how it should be. As long as we have our memories, the people we love never leave us. 

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Some Thoughts on the Super Bowl

February 5, 2018
Some Thoughts on the Super Bowl

Now that it’s over, everyone can go home. Obviously, I have some thoughts on the Super Bowl and all the surrounding festivities and celebrations that took place in the Twin Cities metro area.

Some Thoughts on the Super Bowl

First and foremost, it was pretty awesome. The weather couldn’t have been better. Sure, it was cold and it snowed a few inches, but that’s what we do here and visitors can say they endured a true Minnesotan Winter. Make no mistake, it could have been a lot colder.

The cities involved – Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington and all the other places – put on a great show.

I didn’t go downtown Minneapolis – mostly because of parking, and all the people, and because I don’t care, but if I were into sports it would have been fun. It looked like there was a lot of stuff to do if you are into sports.

I didn’t go to downtown St. Paul either but that’s because I’ve seen it – a lot – and have been to the Winter Carnival many, many times. And, because it was cold. Still, I did watch the news and it all looked awesome. Bravo too whoever was in charge of that, you did a great job.

I did go to the MOA and that is a well oiled machine. I go there most mornings to get my steps in during the winter months so I watched the transformation from mall to media outlet. In just a couple of weeks the mall was completely transformed into a sports venue of sorts, and that’s following the holiday season which was also a major transformation. Today, only hours after the Eagles won the Super Bowl, the Mall of America had mostly returned to being a mall.

The fans were pretty cool. Out of town fans were pretty easy to spot, they were the ones wearing hats, mittens and several layers of coats and vests. All of them had new Sorrel boots. Everyone seemed to behave themselves. The Eagles didn’t trash Minneapolis, though they trashed their own town which is interesting… 

The celebrities were pretty cool too. Except for Justin Timberlake. Don’t get me wrong, he’s cool enough even though he projected a huge image of Prince onto a sheet at his half time show. It was close enough to being a hologram so…. I couldn’t hear most of the songs he sang during his show, but then I don’t know them anyway.

It was an okay show, certainly not the worst, but it didn’t hold a candle to the performance Prince put on in 2007. And that isn’t even where I take issue with JT. No, I’m irritated that he went to my Target on Friday and signed a bunch of his albums and then told fans the secret code to get them. That was fine, it’s that he didn’t actually go to my Target on Friday, he went on Monday and it was all staged. I know they do that, I just thought he was different. 

I didn’t get to have Jimmy Fallon over for dinner, he ended up going to some home in Champlin. I suspect it was because he didn’t get Minnesota Nice or because I goofed and said he was from California instead of New York. I have no idea how I made that mistake, I watch the show every night and it says it in the intro. 

All in all, it was a pretty positive experience. Of course, I live in St. Paul so my life wasn’t impacted that much by the festivities. I’m glad we got to show the football fans and the teams a good time and what a real winter is like and I hope many will return to spend more time here and enjoy all that this state has to offer. However, for now, everyone can just go on home. 

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An Invitation to Dinner for Jimmy Fallon

February 1, 2018
Tater Tot Hot Dish

So apparently Jimmy Fallon is inviting himself to dine with some Minnesotans while he’s here for his live Tonight Show following the Super Bowl. He’s not from here so he wouldn’t know that we don’t just invite ourselves over to someone’s house for dinner. In fact, we have to be invited a minimum of three times before we can accept anything. 

However, this is a special occasion and all so it’s probably okay to overlook this faux pas. 

The daughter and I were watching the news last night when we heard about this. Her immediate response was “why would he want to come here for dinner?”.

Which is a typical Minnesotan thing to say.

With that in mind, I decided to send Jimmy Fallon an invitation to dinner at our house. Of course in Minnesota dinner takes place at noon and lasts until late evening – with half of that taking place at the door trying to say goodbye. 

I did not link to my recipe for tater tot hot dish in the email but am here for those of you who want to know what hot dish is all about. 

I’m a little worried the folks in California won’t understand Minnesota Nice. 

I do have a signature in my email, linking to this blog, and I’m hoping I don’t end up in junk mail. So if you wouldn’t mind tweeting this post to Jimmy, that would be greatly appreciated, unless you have something better to do of course.

Here’s his Twitter @jimmyfallon

An Invitation to Dinner for Jimmy Fallon

Hi Jimmy,

 

I heard you were looking to invite yourself to a Minnesotan’s house for dinner while you were here for the Super Bowl. I guess you do that sort of thing in California. My daughter doesn’t think you’d want to come to our house because we live way over in St. Paul and nobody in Minneapolis ever comes over here but I told her you put your pants on just like everyone else and why wouldn’t you want to come for dinner?

 

So yeah, we’d love to have you come for dinner. It’s a little short notice and all, but it’s no trouble.

 

You said you wanted to try out the local cuisine – whatever that is – but I can pull a Tater Tot Hot Dish out of the basement freezer for you. You said you don’t want a salad, and that’s fine. I’ll still have one for you if you want to try it. I made a lovely Lime Jello Salad, you’ll love it. I can make some bars too, I know I have a box of Betty Crocker somewhere.

 

I’ve been told I make a fair Tater Tot Hot Dish. It’s not as fancy as Margie’s down the street, but that’s because she uses both peas and beans in hers. That’s too much green for me. I prefer peas and corn. Margie also puts that paprika on top of hers, but she’s originally from Wisconsin so what do you expect?

 

Don’t tell Margie I said that about her hot dish, we still have to work together at the Booya this summer and it would be awkward if she knew how I really felt.

 

When would you like to come over? Anytime is good for us, but we got bingo down at the casino on Friday night so we’d have to wrap up supper at about 5:30. Will that work for you? Otherwise we could do dinner on Saturday or Sunday. That’s noon in case you don’t do dinners out in California.

 

Sunday would be nice, we could watch the game. I mean it’s not like the Vikes were gonna win if they got in anyway.

 

Will you be bringing your friend Justin? It’s no trouble if you do, I’ll just have to get my son Alex to come over and get a folding chair out from the garage. It’s really no trouble at all, just let me know.

 

Are you allergic to cats? If you are we’ll put the cats in a room. They don’t get along very well so if you know that cat whisperer maybe you could bring him along instead of your friend Justin? We could really use his help with these dang cats. You must know him right? He’s got all those things in his ears, so he must be from California.

 

Oh, my that was rude of me. You can bring both of them but let me know so I can have Alex get another chair from the garage. It’s really no bother.

 

Well I look forward to meeting you, even if it is on such short notice.

 

Jennifer Brown

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Where to Eat in the Twin Cities While Visiting for the Super Bowl

January 29, 2018
Where to Eat in the Twin Cities While Visiting for the Super Bowl

Wondering where to eat in the Twin Cities while visiting for the Super Bowl? You’re not alone. If you’re here for the sport thing, there are a million sports bars in Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding suburbs that make up the Twin Cities. Sports bars with walls of TVs to catch all the pre-game excitement of Super Bowl LII. However, there’s more to dining than buffalo wings and jalapeño poppers.

Or in the words of our very own Prince:

…But I’m here to tell you, there’s something else….

If this is your first time to these Midwest cities you probably won’t know where to go to get a good meal at a decent price. And there are so many great places that you won’t hear about hanging with sports fans at the US Bank Stadium or the MOA (that’s what the locals call the Mall of America). 

Of course, you’ll need to cross the river for the ones I’m about to tell you about. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great places to eat in Minneapolis, I just can’t think of any I’d want to brave the crowds and traffic for. Come over to St. Paul, we have parking!

Where to Eat in the Twin Cities While Visiting for the Super Bowl

The Commodore

79 Wester Avenue

St. Paul, MN 55102

651-330-5999

The Commodore Bar is where all the hep cats hang out. Originally where people like F. Scott Fitzgerald got their booze on during Prohibition when folks were forced to drink in the speakeasy located in the basement. The bar has been renovated several times in the last 100 years but always retains its stunning beauty and local charm. The food is excellent.  Nothing on the menu will disappoint and the wait staff is exceptional. If you want to step back in time and experience real glamour, check out the Commodore.

W. A. Frost

374 Selby Avenue

St. Paul, MN 55102

651-224-5715

W. A. Frost is owned by the same folks as the Commodore so the prices are similar and the food offerings are similar American cuisine and of course, the service is stellar. The difference is the ambiance. Both are lovely, just have completely different vibes. Jeans are perfectly acceptable, but you wouldn’t stick out in a cocktail dress or suit either. W. A. Frost is just a short walk up Western Avenue from The Commodore. If you really want to fit in with the locals do some bar hopping in sub-zero temps. That’s what F. Scott did.

The Lexington

1096 Grand Avenue

St. Paul, MN

55105

651-289-4990

The Lexington is another former Speakeasy. Originally built in the thirties and remodeled just last year, it has long been a neighborhood place to be and be seen. Enjoy an Old Fashioned at the bar while waiting for your table. The food is supper club staples like popovers, Steak Diane, and their signature pot pie. Just want a little nibble before the big game, try their relish tray, it is to-die-for. 

Looking for something a little less glamorous? How about these fine establishments:

The Nook

492 Hamline Avenue S.

St. Paul, MN 55116

651-698-4347

The Nook is another neighborhood bar. It’s family friendly and is famous for its Juicy Lucy – as featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Feiri. It’s right across the street from where Joe Mauer and Paul Molitor went to school. If you aren’t too stuffed from the great burgers, head downstairs for a little bowling. It doesn’t get more Minnesotan than The Nook.

Groveland Tap

1834 St. Clair Avenue

St. Paul, MN

55105

651-699-5058

Another neighborhood joint to visit when you want a beer and a burger. Known for their onion rings and cheese curds you might feel like you’re in heaven or at the State Fair. Nope, just Mac/Groveland. Large beer selection and they’ve just added a decent wine selection.

Tiffany’s

2051 Ford Parkway

St. Paul, MN 55116

651-699-4747

Another neighborhood bar where you’ll find plenty of great beer and good pub grub. Be warned, the folks at Tiffany’s are Packers fans… Not really sure what else there is to say.

As a Minnesotan, and mostly as a St. Paulite, I don’t venuture out of my comfort zone. I’ve been visiting these six establishments since before it was legal for me to drink. If you know of any that belong on this list, be sure to leave a link and possibly your review in the comment section.

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Big Mac Hot Dish with Noodles

January 27, 2018

Earlier I posted a recipe for Big Mac Hot Dish, but because I was concerned about my use of Tater Tots in the recipe I also a Big Mac Hot Dish with Noodles using elbow noodles instead of the tots. Initially I did not want to use noodles, it just seemed like a weird combination of flavors – pickles, cheese, tomatoes – to have with pasta. Still, I was concerned the tots might get soggy and I knew the pasta would come together better and probably look better on a plate. 

Turns out, both are super tasty and super easy. Here is the recipe for Big Mac Hot Dish with Noodles.

Big Mac Hot Dish with Noodles

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef

1 medium yellow onion – chopped

Half a box elbow noodles cooked al dente and drained

1/2 cup diced tomatoes – drained

1/2 cup diced pickles – drained

10 oz Velveeta – cubed for easy melting

1/2 cup milk or half and half

1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing

Putting it all together:

Cook the elbow noodles according to the package so they are al dente. 

After dicing the pickles press them between several layers of paper towel to remove as much liquid as possible.

While the pasta is cooking brown the ground beef with the chopped onion, cook thoroughly and drain. Turn the burner down to medium and add the tomatoes and pickles, mix well.

Slowly add the Velveeta and milk and stir while it melts. Add the Thousand Island dressing and mix well. If your mixture is too thick you can add more milk.

The pasta will absorb the liquid so you’ll want this to be a little less thick.

Fold in the pasta and place mixture in casserole dish and bake covered for 20 minutes at 350°F.

 

Serve and enjoy!

Dumb Shit I Do Food Minnesota Recipes Things I Really Like Winter

Big Mac Hot Dish

January 27, 2018
Big Mac Hot Dish, Big Mac Casserole

If you’re looking for comfort food, this Big Mac Hot Dish is just the thing on a cold winter day. Seriously, it’s really tasty and super easy to make. 

I grew up on Tang and Pop Tarts, going to McDonald’s was a rare thing in my family and quite a treat when it did happen. The only reason to go to McDonald’s back then was the Big Mac. This was before McRib, Chicken Tenders, McNuggets, etc.

Back then – mid 70s – you had the choice of a hamburger, cheese burger and the brand new two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun – Big Mac. It was divine. 

Now that I’m older, more responsible and more health conscious, when I do go to McDonald’s I order a chicken sandwich and don’t eat the bun. It’s not nearly as much fun so I don’t go often.

Today, I was craving a Big Mac. Mostly I wanted the pickle bite with the special sauce, and cheese. I didn’t want to go to the Golden Arches because I’m really trying to use what I have in my fridge – creatively – so I figured I’d try a Big Mac Hot Dish.

It turned out wonderfully if I do say so myself. Actually I was surprised at how good it is. I didn’t want to make a casserole with pasta. I really wanted to keep it as close to a Big Mac as I could. The problem with that is it would basically be a Big Mac in the blender, and I didn’t want that. So, instead of the pasta I used Tater Tots and OMG it’s awesome.

After I made this I Googled to see if this was a thing. Apparently it is but it uses lettuce and crescent roll dough, and sesame seeds. So, technically this is not really a Big Mac because I left those things out and added the potato, however, I think this is a superior hot dish because it’s like having fries with it – which is the only way to have a Big Mac. 

This is the most retro casserole or hot dish you could imagine. It oozes the 70s and it is super!

Big Mac Hot Dish

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef

1 medium yellow onion – chopped

1 cup Tater Tots (I used the smaller crispy ones)

1/2 cup diced tomatoes – drained

1/2 cup diced pickles – drained

8 oz Velveeta – cubed for easy melting

1/2 cup milk or half and half

1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing

Putting it all together:

Cook the Tater Tots according the package. I wanted them crisp because I was fearful they might make the dish soggy. 

While the tots are cooking brown the ground beef with the chopped onion until cooked thoroughly and drain. Turn the burner down to medium and add the tomatoes and pickles, mix well.

Big Mac Casserole

A note about the pickles, I drained them and then pressed them between paper towels to take out as much of the liquid as possible. 

diced pickles

Slowly add the Velveeta and milk and stir while it melts. Add the Thousand Island dressing and mix well. If your mixture is too thick you can add more milk, but you don’t want it runny, it’s okay if it’s a little on the thick side.

Big Mac Casserole Recipe

Fold in the tots and place mixture in casserole dish and bake covered for 20 minutes at 350°F. Remove the cover for the last 10 minutes or so if you want it to brown up any exposed tots. 

Big Mac Hot Dish Recipe

 

Serve and enjoy.

I didn’t think to put a garnish on the dish, but some shredded lettuce sprinkled on top would probably work really nicely and make it more Big Mac ish. You could even put a few sesame seeds on top of the lettuce. I thought about putting some hash browns on top in a very thin layer – mostly for the crunch and color, but that seemed like overkill with the tots so I skipped it. Cheese didn’t seem right either. A little bacon might be good too, it’s just not my thing. 

Because I was concerned the tots might get soggy I also made a variation with elbow noodles instead of the tots. I added more cheese to this variation so it was more of a Big Mac & Cheese Hot Dish instead. I’ll post that recipe next. 

If you have any ideas for garnish or sides please let me know in the comments. 

 

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Food Recipes Things I Really Like Winter

Baked Reuben Dip

January 21, 2018
Baked Reuben Dip

I’ve been making this Baked Reuben Dip for ever. I got the original recipe from my ex brother in law some 25 years ago. Originally the recipe called for sliced Buddig roast beef, and it was fine. However, I have found that using roast beef from the deli makes for a much better dip.

The original recipe, at least as I learned it, was for the Crock Pot, one of those mini ones. And again, it’s great, but it takes forever and keeping it warm for hours at a time makes a nasty mess. Baking it in the oven creates a better dip that is more appealing.

This is one of those recipes that has an awful lot of wiggle room. It has three main ingredients – cheese, meat and sauerkraut – in equal parts that can be adjusted based on how much you need. In my house my son wolfs it down before anyone else can get to it so I usually make a lot.

I’m using weight as a measurement but you can use volume too. This would translate to about a cup of each ingredient.

Baked Reuben Dip

Baked Reuben Dip

8 oz roast beef – sliced and chopped

8 oz Swiss cheese – grated

8 oz sauerkraut – drained and chopped

1/4 – 1/2 cup Thousand Island dressing

In a mixing bowl mix together all ingredients. Use more or less of the Thousand Island dressing depending on how “dippy” you want it to be. Place in oven safe casserole dish and bake in a 350°F oven for 35 minutes or until bubbly and beautiful.

Serve with Gardetto’s rye chips or those little pumpernickel breads you see in the bakery section of your grocery store. I prefer the rye chips because they’re the perfect size, but Ritz crackers or melba toast works well too. 

If you have any leftovers it can be used for making Reuben Balls or simple spread on a toasted baguette for a quick and simple Reuben sandwich. 

Enjoy

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The Best Reuben Balls Recipe

January 21, 2018
the best reuben balls recipe

This is the best Rueben Balls recipe you will find, and these are the best balls you will ever put in your mouth. 

Not hyperbole.

Recently I made Baked Reuben Dip as part of a Vikings Game Day Appetizer series (Go Vikes and Skol!!) and had half a jar of sauerkraut leftover. Because no one eats just sauerkraut I wanted to do something to use it up instead of letting it die a slow death at the back of the fridge. 

After doing a very quick Google search looking for appetizer recipes with sauerkraut, it dawned on me that there isn’t a lot you can do with sauerkraut, especially in an appetizer. 

However, it would seem that shaping sauerkraut into a ball and deep frying it is a thing. All of the recipes I saw used ham or sausage for their sauerkraut balls, that sounded kinda disgusting to me so I decided to try my hand at a Reuben Ball. Because really, that’s the only way I like to eat sauerkraut.

I don’t deep fry. Not because of the calories or that it’s bad for you, but because I don’t want to burn the house down. 

I do however, bake shit that tastes better fried.

I have a feeling that these Reuben Balls, the best balls you’ll ever put in your mouth, might be even better if they were deep fried. But, I’ll never know because of my fear of frying.

The best Reuben balls recipe

The Best Reuben Balls Recipe

(the best balls you’ll put in your mouth)

1 package (7 oz) sliced roast beef – chopped

1 1/2 cups sauerkraut – drained and chopped

1 cup grated Jarlsberg cheese (Swiss would work well too, this is just what I had on hand)

2 green onions – chopped (include the greens)

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup crushed Gardetto’s Special Request Roasted Garlic Rye Chips

1/2 cup Gardetto’s Special Request Roasted Garlic Rye Chips

 

It’s important to drain your sauerkraut as much as possible. You can put them in a strainer and push with a spoon to get the water out. After that I pressed them into paper towel to get the rest of the water out. Crush the rye chips by placing them in a zip loc bag and rolling with a rolling pin or place them in a bowl and use a cup or drinking glass to crush them. Use a food processor or Magic Bullet to process the other 1/2 cup of rye chips to roll your balls in.

Mix roast beef, cheese, sauerkraut, onion, crushed rye chips and egg together in a bowl until well incorporated. Shape mixture into golf ball size balls and roll in the processed rye chips until covered. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. No need to grease.

Bake in a 375°F oven for 20 minutes.

Serve with Thousand Island dressing, it makes a perfect dip for these tasty balls.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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I Made This – Pizza and Wine!

January 16, 2018

I can’t believe I made this – pizza and wine! And by ‘made this’, I mean I made everything in this image by myself and from scratch.

I made the wine and I made the pizza.

I made the dough – I let it rise, punched it down and shaped it into pizza crust.  I made the sauce, from tomatoes I canned last summer and I chopped the veggies and cooked the sausage. I put it all together and cooked it in my oven. 

I made the wine. I fermented the grape juice (I did not grow, crush or stomp on the grapes, but I did research their origin for the style and taste I was looking for). I cleared and stabilized the wine and I bottled it all by myself. 

FYI, my wine has a fraction of the sulfites and no added sugars or preservatives than store-bought wine – so it’s much healthier.

It took about 4 months for the wine (most of that is aging), and 2 hours for the pizza (most of that is waiting for the dough to rise). 

So why did I do this?

Good question. I did this because I — wondered what would happen if — I made a meal completely from scratch (ok, maybe not 100% completely, but close), and I was tired of frozen pizza, take out and eating stuff filled with preservatives and all the other stuff.

Plus, since I have been making wine – which is all about the yeast – I thought why not make some pizza. I used to have a fear of making anything with yeast, but since I’ve been making my own wine, beer, cider, root beer and even kombucha, I figured it was a silly fear.

In fact, it turns out I have many fears about cooking. 

Each fall I can many of the veggies from my garden. Usually tomatoes, beans, carrots etc. I follow the directions for canning and I store everything in a cool, dark basement, and yet when I open a jar of pickles, tomato sauce or dilly beans I wonder if I’ll get botulism. 

I suspect I am not the only one with this fear.

I Made This – Pizza and Wine!

Pizza crust:

4 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 package yeast

2 tablespoons olive oil

1.5 cups water at 110°

Mix dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Using a stand mixer is easiest but a hand mixer will work. You can also use a food processor, but I don’t have one and don’t really know what settings to use. I suspect there are some directions that come with it.

Slowly add the water and oil to the dry mixture and mix until it is all incorporated. Remove from the mixing bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface. Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl and cover. Place in a warm area and rise until doubled, about an hour. 

After dough has risen cut into quarters and let rest for at least 10 minutes. 

Shape on cookie sheet or pizza stone and add your toppings.

I Made This Pizza and Wine

Pizza Sauce:

I used my own canned tomato sauce with garlic, basil, oregano and onions, but you can use tomato paste, water and add herbs to taste. Canned tomato sauce will also work. I threw in an extra can of diced tomatoes because I didn’t have any crushed tomatoes. I added about 2 tablespoons of sugar to the tomato sauce to cut the acid taste and then I boiled it down to thicken it up.

Toppings:

Thinly sliced green pepper, sliced black olives, sliced mushrooms, sliced red onions, mozzarella cheese. 

Cook in a 425° oven for 10-12 minutes. 

Enjoy!

So I made this pizza and wine, because it turns out the stuff I make is much better than the same stuff from a box or the freezer.

What have you made?

 

 

Blogging Huh Minnesota Minnesota Nice People Things I Really Like Winter WTF?

#SKOL

January 15, 2018
#skol

Skol!

That was a helluva game last night. It looked like a typical Minnesota Vikings end of season. They held a 17 point lead agains the Saints for most of the game and then they didn’t. There were seconds left on the clock, no way they could win, but they did.

I don’t need to recap the game, you probably saw it when it happened and if you didn’t, you’ve seen it a hundred times by now.

I’m not even a sports fan, let alone a football fan, but it was…. amazing. 

It’s difficult not to get swept up in the excitement, but we’ve been here before, many times, and … sigh…. we know how this is likely to end. And we know better. And yet…

This season, and especially last night’s win, reminds me of when I am stuck on a level in Candy Crush. I’m not going to purchase any boosters and some of the levels are simply unwinnable without boosters. Eventually the game realizes you aren’t going to pony up any cash and lets you win because who knows, you might in the next really level. 

According to Berg’s Fourth Law of Media/Sports Inversion – A Minnesota sports team may be a contender until the moment the local media actually believes they will be contenders. At that moment – be it spring training, late November in the NFL season, or week 72 of the NHL playoffs – the season will fall irredeemably apart.

It goes for more than just the media, when the folks start believing, I mean REALLY believing, that’s when it will inevitably fall apart.

We’re a group of people who thrive on the negative, as explained here in Howard Mohr’s How to Talk Minnesotan: The Power of the Negative

Certainly, we’ve been doing this since before the Vikings joined the NFL as an expansion team in 1960, but it has served us through the incredible, heartbreaking, frustration and excruciating losses we’ve witnessed in the last 58 years.

I gave up on the Vikings, like I usually do, in the preseason when they lost to the Seahawks. In fact, I declared I was going to make the Seahawks my team going forward. I did this – not because I am a Seahawks fan, but because I was doing my part to ensure the Vikings started winning.

I watched two games in the regular season, both times they lost. In fact, I remember hoping they would lose. Again, doing my part to help them win. When I stopped watching, they started winning. I haven’t seen a game since and even last night’s game I didn’t actually watch until I though they were going to lose and then it was my job, as a Minnesotan, to endure the loss – live.

I have a friend who is not a Minnesotan, he’s from Florida of all places, but has made his home here for several decades. As the Vikes racked up more and more wins he started speculating about the Vikings in the Superbowl, numerous times. Each time I had to remind him that he was going to jinx the whole thing if he didn’t knock it off. I think he thought I was joking, I was not. I’m hoping the fact he is a Floridian will appease the football gods, but for all I know we’re going all the way to lose because someone, who isn’t from here, speculated too soon in the season.

Like all Minnesotans, and some people from Wisconsin, I’ve been let down by the Minnesota Vikings for as long as I can remember. And I do remember. I remember exactly where I was when they lost in ’74, ’75 and ’77. I was roller skating (because there’s not much else for a pre-teen to do in MN in the winter months. I take that back, there is, but we didn’t ski either) and the disappointment was palpable when they lost the Superbowl each time.

I do not come from a sportsminded family. My father would have sooner have bathed the dog after being sprayed by a skunk than take my brother and me to a football game, or any sports game for that matter. I do not understand football terminology or know anything about offense or defense. I just know that the Vikings will make it to the very precipice and then lose in such spectacular fashion – sort of like the Saints lost last night – and once again crush our dreams.

That the Superbowl is in Minnesota just makes it even worse. 

Of course, the reality is that this is just too good to be true. They shouldn’t have won last night, it just isn’t what they do. I really don’t know what I am supposed to do for the next week. I’m in unchartered territory and it terrifies me. 

I won’t say it, but there is a part of me that is beginning to believe that this might be our Candy Crush.

Of course it won’t be, the Vikings will lose next Sunday, and all will be right with the world.