Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Jammin'



My last post was all about how a local company has nailed the flavor of Maine blueberries into products that outshines other businesses that use blueberries, Maine Man Flavah's. I have tasted dozens of other products, many from as far away as Oregon, claiming to use Maine blueberries in syrups, jellies, jams, preserves, muffin mixes and vinaigrettes. I will dare say that most used blueberry essence, extract or flavoring. How can you tell? Because you can smell sweet blueberry the second you open it....and I mean sweet, almost like perfume. That is the main indication of a fake blueberry addition.

And yes, I mean fake. Even though the extract or essence may come from blueberries in some form, when you scientifically alter pure wild blueberries, it is FAKE!

Not so with both Maine Man Flavah and Bar Harbor Jam Company. If I remember correctly, these guys have been around since the mid-80's and are truly local, buying and preparing right here at home.

Now they don't need me to give them a plug, one look at their product and it won't take long for you to place an order. One taste of their product and it won't take long for you to reorder. One look at there distribution list, and it won't take long for you to share with friends and family not in this great state.

From Maine to California, stopping at North Dakota, Ohio, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, Montana, Tennessee, New Hampshire and Vermont for our friends who want to see what true Yankee blueberry ingenuity is all about.

I really am trying NOT to sound like an advertisement or paid spokesman, because I am not! When you are a New Englander, when you taste a product using Maine blueberries(for example), you stick with it and you tell everyone about it. This is exactly what I am doing.

For example, I recently tried Bar Harbor Jam Company's Wild Blueberry Syrup. Here is an image and even though it looks blue, the picture does it no justice. The syrup is not only bluer then it appears in the image, it is PERFECT! Outstanding doesn't begin to describe it.

I also have a bottle of their WILD Blueberry Vinaigrette 2 days ago. GONE!!!

Keep an eye out for the recipes I used it in. Just outstanding, AGAIN!

Take a peak at their website here and tell me it isn't some kinda temptin'.(Hey, it's the way I talk, get over it, hahaha.)

For anyone who seeks organic products, take a look. Chocolate covered blueberries AND cranberries, take a look. Frozen and dried blueberries, take a look. Breads and muffins, using wild Maine blueberries, take a look. Want a topping for your summer ice cream sundae's, take a look. And finally, for the best Blueberry Soda, take a look. Betcha never heard of Old Soaker Blueberry Soda before. Betcha never will drink another brand after this either! I could go on and on, but just take a look for yourself at the tremendous variety at Bar Harbor Jam Co..




Again, Maine continues to amaze me with its Yankee ingenuity, hard work, perseverance and above all, sticking with the world's best crop with no other artificial blueberry additives needed. You guys really are Jammin'.

 

Friday, June 9, 2017

T'ain't Right!

Yup.....that was what was going through my mind when I saw the label on some intriguing hot sauce at a local Christmas shop in Bar Harbor, Maine. Let me explain.

A friend of mine's girlfriend(Yes, also a friend as well)own the Christmas Vacation Shop in Bar Harbor, Maine, It is almost the time of year where you can't even move without offending someone downtown.
 
   Now BEFORE you go snickering about Christmas ornaments being sold in the summer, this store is all about Maine made gifts of ALL types, with emphasis on what made Maine THE tourist attraction, such as lobsters, lighthouses, blueberries and much more.
   At any rate, I took a walk into this quintessential Maine store with the premise of seeing Jim and Ellen(friends mentioned above) and simply to catch up. It seemed like it took me forever just to remove myself from staring at all the colorful, New England and Maine-themed ornaments and start treking to the counter to accomplish my goal. As I was doing so, I noticed a number of bottles that simply did not belong. Throwing my glasses on(first making sure nobody was around to see me with glasses)I noticed the name Maine Man Flavahs. Then I noticed the words Blueberry and Habanero. THEN I noticed a blue liquid in each bottle. My culinary curiosity was piqued so I hollered out "What's this stuff?" without even raising my head. Yeah, I blurt out off the cuff way to often and loud.

"Hot sauce" she immediately answered. Well, I wondered if hot sauce in a Christmas shop just t'ain't right! I couldn't have been more wrong

   This hot sauce is not only a Maine item, but it is a novelty Maine item, which fits in perfectly with the theme of the Christmas Shop.

At any rate, I bought a bottle and immediately looked this company up, gave them a call, visited them and the love affair soon began.

   Ben(one of the owners along with Brian)invited me to try a few more products in their line which haven't been widely distributed outside of Maine as of this writing. A Carrot Habanero Sauce, called Ain't Right on the label, was just as delicious as the Blueberry Habanero Sauce! I dare anyone to find either type of hot sauce that has as much flavor as these two. You simply cannot!

   After tasting what may very well be the most flavorful hot sauces on the market NATION-
ALLY, he brought out 2 items that have yet to hit a broader market, but soon will.

   Ben went on to explain that instead of tossing out the fiber-rich by-product of each hot sauce, he would allow his Yankee frugality to dictate business decisions.....and I am sure glad he did!

   The end result is The Guts(by-product of the Blueberry hot sauce) and the Ain't Right Guts(the results of the....well, you know the answer).

With some culinary magic, Yankee ingenuity and the desire to turn, what is ordinarily thrown out, "sumthin' outta nuthin'", these two relishes will blow you away! I cannot say enough about either of these products, other than they are a MUST try!

   In short, ya' gotta try these products and look for them at any of the following businesses. If you aren't around Maine, go to their website to order and even contact them for some new items coming in the next few weeks. Follow these links and find out for yourself!

 
 

 
 

 


For the Blueberry Habanero Guts, visit:



Tiller and Rye, in Brewer, Maine.
Natural Living Center and Central Street Farmhouse in Bangor, Maine.
Peeky Toe Provisions, in Bar Harbor, Maine.


For the Blueberry Habanero Sauce, visit these Maine businesses:

In Bar Harbor, Maine, go to Christmas Vacation Shop as mentioned, Bar Harbor Beer Works, Bar Harbor Jam Co., Blaze Pizzeria, Cherristones, Cool as a Moose , Dog and Pony Tavern, Jalapeños Mexican Restaurant, Peeky Toe Provisions.

In Bangor, go to Carolina's Sports and Spirits, Giacomo's Market, Miguel's Mexican Restaurant ,Natural Living Center and the Central St. Farmhouse

In Portland, Maine, go to Bayou Kitchen, King's Head Pandemonium, Shipwreck and Cargo, Taco Escobarr and Rivalries.

And here are other businesses that carry Maine Man Flavah products:

The Bacon Tree (Winterport)
Colonel's Deli (Northeast Harbor)
Fisherman's Net (Gray)
Flaming Gourmet (Kennebunkport, Maine)
Mason's Brewery (Brewer)
Mangy Moose (Freeport)
North Woods Trading Post (Millinocket)
Rolling Fatties (Kingfield)
Sherman's Book Stores (throughout Maine)
Shipyard Brew Haus (Sugarloaf)
The Bag (Sugarloaf)
Spring Creek BBQ (Monson)
Taste Jamaica (Ellsworth)
The Pickled Wrinkle (Winter Harbor)
The Shuga Shack (Poland)
Tiller and Rye (Brewer)
Tradewinds Grocer (located throughout Maine)
Uno Mas (Farmington)
Village Market (Carmel)


And for those of you in the food and restaurant industry, simply ask for the product line through Dennis Paper Co. and W.A.Beans, both of Bangor.

In New Hampshire, these sauces can be found at the Bavarian Chocolate Haus (North Conway)

And one more thing! Am I plugging this company because of any particular reason? Yup!!! Because they are Yankee's.....

It's Just That Simple!™


 
 


 
 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME.....

.....you helped someone in need?

We are looking to help a young girl who is a classmate and friend with my youngest son. Her name is Breena. In a nutshell, this poor little girl has been in the hospital since February with Aplastic Anemia. She has undergone Immuno Therapy and will be leaving for Boston for a bone marrow transplant. Her and Thomas are great friends and a few nights ago, when we got the flyer from school about Breena, Thomas asked if we could do something to help his friend. Of course I would have helped even IF they didnt know each other. So Friday, June 2, between 4:30 and 8:00 pm, there will be a benefit Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction at the Kenduskeag Mystic Tie Grange  in Maine. My son and I are donating a number of my last cookbook to help out.



So I am asking a couple things. If you can't make it, would you share this post?

If you can't make it but live in the area, could you offer ANYTHING for auction?

And if you can't make it, I would like to offer more copies of my cookbook for sale to benefit this young lady. From now until Thursday, June 1st, Thomas and I would love to offer it for $10 per copy. ONLY until June 1st though. Every single cent will be given to this family on the night of the dinner. The dinner is $7 for adults, $5 for children and all children under 6 is FREE.

If there is any cause that is worth anyones consideration, it is for a child. She is a beautiful little blonde haired girl and worthy of everyones thoughts and prayers. Anyone and everyone can message me for more info if needed. Can we forget about the enraging political rhetoric and give ourselves to a helpless child?
 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Last Stand

I am referring to the deep fryers last stand before summer hits! I don't know about the rest of you, but my deep fryer stands alone when temperatures reach above 70, of course with the exception of fried clams that is.
So I wanted to give you a couple recipes that are perfect send-offs to frying in oil that I think just may have you hauling it out one or two more times even when your kitchen begs you not to.

Coconut Mandazi Donuts

These Swahili treats should rightfully be called Mamri's because of the addition of coconut flavoring. Although very lightly tinctured with the taste of coconut, I urge you to add a teaspoon of coconut flavoring for a more pronounced taste treat. Either way, they are light, fluffy and even with the little bit of spices I use, the flavor is spot on.

 

1 cup warm coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar
1(1/4-ounce)package active dry yeast
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1/4 teaspoon each dried nutmeg and allspice
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 quart canola oil
Powdered sugar for dusting

 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together coconut milk, sugar and yeast. Let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes, or until yeast is frothing.

When ready, using either a mixer with a dough hook or paddle, add flour, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and melted butter. Mix until dough leaves the side of the bowl and is thoroughly combined. Cover with dry cloth and let rise until double in bulk in warmest part of kitchen. This will be anywhere from 1-2 hours.

Punch down, cover and let rise until 50% larger in bulk this time.

Heat 1 quart of canola oil(or your choice of deep fat fryer oil)in a large, sturdy pot until temperature reaches 350-degrees F. Follow manufacturer's instructions if needed.

Transfer dough to well floured work surface and knead for a minute, adding more flour if needed to prevent sticking. Divide into 8 equal sized balls. Flatten each ball so that they are 4-inches in diameter. Cut into 4 equal sized triangles and let rest 10 minutes.

Fry 4 triangles at a time until well browned on both sides, about a minute per side. Carefully lift from oil onto paper towel-lined platter(or use a rack placed over a large sheet pan)while continuing to fry remainder of donuts. Let oil reheat for a minute or so before continuing with each batch.

Dust with powdered sugar while warm or wait until they have cooled to room temperature, or colder, before dusting.

Makes 32 donuts.

 

 

Sticky Apple Twisted Sistah's

With the classic Koeksister as an influence, these deliciously sweet, sticky "donuts" are so amazingly addictive, even the heat of summer will not prevent you from making these. But instead of cold honey drizzled over each(as usually prepared for true Koeksisters), I have added the sweetness AND flavor of apple in every bite.



Dough:
1 cup warm apple juice
1/4 cup sugar
1(1/4-ounce)package active dry yeast
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon dried nutmeg
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 quart canola oil
Apple Glaze:
1 1/3 cups apple cider or juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together juice, sugar and yeast. Let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes, or until yeast is frothing.

When ready, using either a mixer with a dough hook or paddle, add flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and melted butter. Mix until dough leaves the side of the bowl and is thoroughly combined. Cover with dry cloth and let rise until double in bulk in warmest part of kitchen. This will be anywhere from 1-2 hours.

Punch down, cover and let rise until 50% larger in bulk this time.

Heat 1 quart of canola oil(or your choice of deep fat fryer oil)in a large, sturdy pot until temperature reaches 350-degrees F. Follow manufacturer's instructions if needed.

On a well floured work surface, transfer dough and knead for 1 minute. Roll out dough until roughly 8 inches in width by 14-16 inches in length. Using a pizza cutter, or long, non-serrated knife, cut into 1/2-inch in width by 8-inch strips(obviously cutting from the long side).

Using 3 strips at a time, pinch one end of them together and braid until you reach the end. Pinch remaining end and cut in half, to form 2-four inch braids. Continue with remainder of dough strips. Let rest 10 minutes.

With a flat spatula, lift each off work surface and gently place in hot oil, cooking 3-4 braids at a time. Cook for about a minute. or until well browned on one side before carefully turning over to cook until browned on the other side.

Carefully lift from oil onto paper towel-lined platter(or use a rack placed over a large sheet pan)while continuing to fry remainder of donuts. Let oil reheat for a minute or so before continuing with each batch.

When done, make Apple Sticky Glaze by boiling apple cider over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup. Meanwhile, whisk cornstarch with 1 teaspoon water until smooth.

Whisk in cornstarch slurry to the third cup of reduced juice until thickened. Remove from heat and brush glaze over each Koeksister. Serve hot.

Makes about 10-12 Koeksisters

 


Apple Puff Fritters

The difference between these fritters and other, crispy classics is the puffy soft interior of each. Simple to make and a batter to do for, these fritters are great mouth poppers when seeing that apple fritter flavor. By using Apple Glaze, we are getting the sweetness of the usual powdered sugar glaze but an apple flavor boost.

 

Apple Glaze:
2 2/3 cups apple cider or juice
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
Fritter Batter:
2 medium apples
1 cup plain yogurt
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 quart canola oil

 

Make Apple Sticky Glaze by boiling apple cider over medium-high heat until reduced to 2/3 cup. Meanwhile, whisk cornstarch with 1 1/2 teaspoons water until smooth.

Whisk in cornstarch slurry to the reduced juice until slightly thickened; set aside and keep warm.

Peel, core and grate apples into a large bowl. You can also mince the apples to the size desired. Add yogurt and eggs, beating well.

In a separate bowl, blend flour, sugar and baking powder. Add dry to wet, stirring until completely incorporated.

Heat canola oil(or your choice of deep fat fryer oil)in a large, sturdy pot until temperature reaches 350-degrees F. Follow manufacturer's instructions if needed.

Carefully drop by 2 tablespoon measures into hot oil, cooking 3-4 at a time, and cook for about 30 seconds(see NOTE). Turn and cook for about a minute or more, until browned. Turn over once again to finish browning on the other side. Lift each out of hot oil, allowing excess oil to drain, and transfer to a rack or paper towel-lined pan. Let oil reheat for a minute before continuing with remainder of batter.

Toss Fritters into warm glaze, roll around until completely coated, repeating with all Fritters. Enjoy warm.

NOTE: You will want to do your first "flip" before the Fritters begin to brown too much because the batter inside the fritters will almost prevent itself from keeping the first, cooked side up out of the oil while cooking the underside(inertia). By only lightly cooking the first side. this will help the fritter to evenly brown on all sides.
 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Get Off Your High Horse

I know this has absolutely NOTHING to do with cooking, genealogy, food or anything related to eating but it is something that really bothers me.

I am constantly thinking of my relatives that have passed over the years and especially all the Baileys that lived here in New England since the Puritan era. But I am most enamored with my family from Washington County, Maine because it was here that my gr.gr.gr.gr.great grandfather Nathaniel Bayley founded Baileyville, Maine. And his son, my gr.gr.gr. great grandparents Josiah and Charlotte Bailey was one of the first settlers of Topsfield, Maine.

They both lived on Bailey Hill in both towns and it is remarkable of how each lived off the land.

Once they had all passed, their graves are still erect and are found in their respective homesteads. I often take my children up there to see them and at the same time, we take detours to visit the old cemeteries in the same area and pay our respects to my father, grandfather, great grandfather and Josiah's son, my gr.gr. grandfather, Thomas Bailey.

But what is troubling is that I believe we are the ONLY people in our family that does so. My sister has gone up with me on numerous occasions but that is it!

This post is NOT meant to be demeaning to my family at all. They all have lives and my passion for my heritage should not be forced onto others.

Nope, this post is geared toward EVERYONE! We walk by hundreds of headstones that are neglected, fallen over and otherwise in desperate need of repair. Thank goodness every time one of my families headstones is looking like it needs help, I do what I can.

How on earth can someone not have pride in their family? Even if you visited them once in a while.......It is a shameful sight and my children know how it bothers me and they also know how grateful I am that they feel the same way. I can rest knowing that when I am gone, they will pick up the reigns and not neglect just what made them a Bailey.

Is it because of time constraints? Is it because you think you are better than the poor farmers in your family? I just do not get it!

My kids and I even take a walk to the cemetery right down the road from where I live and simply stroll through the cemetery looking at even more neglected, forgotten souls. I truly feel for those parents who lost a small child from long ago. I and my children often wonder why an infant died. But at the same time, we see headstones of people who lived to be near 100 years old and think about what the times were like when they were born in the 18th century and died in the 19th century. I think about what their households must have been like with no electricity and dinner aromas wafting everywhere. I could go on and on but will spare you.

The point of the post is to try and understand WHY so many of you neglect your past? I have so many people telling me that they know all about this person or that, yet they have no idea where they are buried. And many who DO know, have never taken the time to go.

Come on people. Walk the walk!!!! How would you feel if 100 years after your death, no one came to your grave, said a prayer, reflected on you or did not prop up your broken headstone?

It doesn't matter how rich you are(And I find that many who neglect their heritage tend to think they are better than those farmers before them are the ones who are well to do.)go visit your family, and not just your immediate family. Take the time to visit those who struggled just to feed their families because they had no other choice. Get off your high horse. YOU folks ought to be ashamed, no one else!

 

It's Just That Simple!

 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

From Rags to.....well, DISHCLOTHS!





I certainly would like to say "Riches", but I am a Yankee, and with that moniker, I am simply happy to be in a place where I never thought I would be, let me explain.

Ever since a child during the late 60s on into the late 70s, I knew of no time that I needed anything. We grew up fluctuating between having very little money to on top of the world. Because of various decisions my father made that brought us at the poverty level at times, I(along with my siblings)never knew our finances and life was on an even keel while growing up. Our parents had the mindset that children should NOT know how much money we had, how much food was in the cupboards or whether or not bills were being paid on time. Their only concern was our welfare, financial and emotional.

We never went without a meal, clothes, games or happiness because it was my parents struggle to give us what we needed in all areas of our growth.

It wasn't until I could think on my own and through talking with my father that I became aware of struggles in our childhood. And even then, he never wanted to admit any faults he may have had, bad decisions he chose or how(because of their cheap price)we ate pot pies many times sitting around the supper table.

For that, I will ALWAYS hold my mother and father at the highest esteem!

I worked my tail off ever since the 7th grade in the kitchens my parents ran. Not only did it give me a work ethic that is unparalleled(to this day, I honestly have never met anyone in the kitchen that can stay as busy as I can)but it saved my parents money so that they could keep the restaurants in operation.

I also got a feel of what it was like to be in a situation where there was no money, and thank goodness I didn't have children to consider during this time.

There were many times in my life that I found myself homeless with no cash, food, clothes or many friends. I have slept under a thick bush in one state while trodding to a Catholic church for 2 bologna sandwiches they handed out once a day.

I have found myself sleeping next to a river, in the thick woods with absolutely NO food for days on end.
These instances, and many more, were through no fault of anyone but me! Spending my money on beer and partying and only working to accomplish these two goals were decisions I made as a young adult.

Although I had family that helped me many times over this time, for some reason I STILL didn't learn from my mistakes. I think my downfall was that I was truly a handsome young man and I thought that my looks would get me whatever I wanted. I can sit here now and remember in great detail that I would be thinking how handsome I was while sitting at a homeless shelter eating whatever they offered. Talk about being blind to the truth, LOL.

I remember other times "mooching" off my siblings for a couch to sleep on, even when I was working full time. I would get a paycheck and instead of offering them some money for their kindness, I took it, bought me and friends of mine beer and off to the local dance club to party all night. I often found myself in a strange home, in the early morning hours, continuing to drink while others around me were doing drugs. The only consolation I can think of was the fact that I NEVER did those same drugs. Sure I smoked a little marijuana and tried cocaine once, it just wasn't for me. Liquor was my downfall, just as it had been for my father, grandfather and others from a generation back. And I couldn't be happier that this cycle of alcohol cycle has stopped. I don't believe I was an alcoholic during this time, I simply wasted money on beer instead of being financially responsible.

And the damndest thing was, at any given time throughout my lowest times, I could easily have changed everything because I was truly the best line cook around....honestly.....thanks to the training I received from my parents!

So when you have experienced that side of the track, and pulled yourself up, you have nothing to fear other than one thing. Having children of your own is the only time that poverty fears come back to me, and at a consistent frequency.

Since having children, I find myself looking toward the future, not only long term, but the following week. I have an obsession, you might say, about making sure my kids do not go without. An obsession in making sure that bills are paid, food is in the cupboard and never EVER saying we don't have the money for this and that. I don't believe I have ever said "We don't have the money" for anything because my parents never said that to me. Which is essential in maintaining a healthy, mental "even keel".

So having given out what may be too much information, the whole premise of this post is that this Yankee is happy to have what I have, not to constantly irritate myself with what I don't.

I am the exact same person now as I was during this rough time in my life, albeit maybe a tad more compassionate and priority driven.

My children have issues at times when I tell them the same thing, but I am afraid that it is partially my fault for spoiling them the way I have. Whenever they ask for something, sadly I give it to them. But there have been times when I have explained to them that they, too, should be happy with what they have and not what they don't! THAT, my friends, is not an easy task!

I am not rich but I do have that "warm blanket in which to cover my children with" as I mentioned during my Dads eulogy.

Sure, keep striving to obtain more, but at the same time, be content with what you have. If you fall below that comfort zone, it is time to assess why you are there, stand up and take that other road. But above all, if you have family that is helping you, understand that you really do need to help yourself if someone else takes the time and resources to help you.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Damned if I do and damned if I don't!





Over the past year or more, I have been inundated with requests from some great followers of mine, as well as marketing personel, to start an instagram page, or at the very least use my smartphone in order to video my life in the culinary world. "Take real time videos of your cooking, places you've been or are going to, people you meet and all of your book signings so everyone can see what is going on with you culinarily." "This will significantly increase your base and ultimately your book sales." they add. I have steadfastly refused, and let me tell you why.

 

I learned long ago, as everyone should know, that stress kills. Pure and simple! The #1 cause of death I might add is stress, and everything associated with stress. I tout, in my REFRESHED cookbook, ways of improving your life through stress reduction. This includes anything from getting off that couch, eating just a tad healthier, taking a walk outside and so on. I give evidence of this killer and the toll it has on our body and mind, sprinkled with uplifting and inspirational information and adages from famous people throughout my book.

 


Although we are in an age that the internet inundates our lives and always will, it should be our "friend" rather than our enemy. This is simply not the case.

 

I remember, for one example, my Dad always used to say "This, too, shall pass." whenever I was troubled by something.....anything! So when my blood pressure spiked by an event or happenstance, regardless of its veracity, it took just a little more time off of my life. Say that a family member texted me that someone was saying something ill of me or my family, or that someone else did something that was truly disturbing. It would be at the exact moment of the text that stress would set in.

Now if that person who sent the text had waited a little bit, calmed down and put things in perspective, then the text would not have been so important or disturbingly written in the first place, thereby side-stepping stress.

There is a reason our parents and beyond told us that things will seem, look and feel better in the morning. The same holds true here.

 

Remember me?

The same holds true with social media. There are so many trolls and people who live by being negative. They can live their lives in the darkness and die prematurely if that is their decision. But I decide how to live my life. If I can eliminate platforms and chances for those who create negativity, then that is exactly what I am going to do, even if it means NOT becoming wealthy. What good does it do to die sooner with your pockets lined?

 

The same holds true for tablets or any hand-held devise that creates instant communication. Although I have a cell and tablet, I use them very sparingly, say 2-3 times a month...HONESTLY!!!! I will not create a negative environment in my home or head, period.

 

I look around and see people walking down the street glued to their phones, sitting on a date in a restaurant...glued to their phones, sitting at home with their children...glued to their phones, out on the town...glued to their phone and it goes on and on. My children benefit from me NOT glued to my phone when we are together. If someone wants me bad enough they can leave a message on FB and I will get it when I get it. Those with an emergency can call my home. There is NOTHING so important as the happiness of my children. There is NOTHING so important as the interaction with my children. There is NOTHING so important as living my life as long as I can FOR my children.

 

If you don't have children, there should be NOTHING so important as your quality and quantity of life, and I am not being rhetorical. Cut the stress out.


 Ponder these questions and thoughts:


Do you truly believe it when someone posts on FB "I am here for you."? If they were, they would call.

 



Do you truly feel better when you see a post from a dear friend that is mean spirited and controversial toward your political leanings, or do you write back something equally rude?

 

Do you enjoy pictures of torture, mutilation, violent acts or death in your feed?

 

Does it make you feel better when you reply to a dear friend or family member that you will get together soon...over and over and over again, without actually living up to your promise?

 

Does it make you feel better sharing a post of something while you are sitting on the couch at home with your children are actively seeking your attention?

 

Do negative comments on any of your posts bring joy to you more-so than enjoying the great outdoors?

 

Would you rather enjoy immediate and disturbing brief gratification from something that was written or shared rather than prolonged enjoyment?

 

In other words, by circumventing that which shortens your life(and again, this is not rhetorical, but frightingly obvious)and strolling through that which gives you joy, over and over again, is beneficial in every single way.

And I haven't even touched the minute by minute news stories that everyone and their mother posts. Most of them are enough to get anyone's bp up.
 

My goodness people, you need to dictate your own priorities or at the very least, meet somewhere in the middle. Although I may be missing out on boat-loads of money but not inundating the web with my online presence,  my physical presence matters most.....and I don't really need to tell you what those are, do I?

 

                   #Putitdown #callsomeone #youstressyourself #mylife #happylives

 

                                                           It's Just That Simple!™


Friday, March 10, 2017

Time To Exhale!

It never fails, every winter, I add a few pounds. It doesn't matter if I think I am eating less, healthier of watching every that goes into my mouth. The bottom line, I am not nearly as active in the cold months as I am when it warms up.
Sooooo, that means I either avoid the clothes I wear in the summer or I take a deep breath and hold it until the person I know in the supermarket, school or corner store walks out of range. Then I can exhale.
And it is at this point every year, I truly start eating more fruits and vegetables and try to go to sleep at night as quickly as possible before I get that never-ending sweet tooth, which happens every single night. Then I wake up in the morning and feel grotesquely disgusted with myself all day long.
Here are a couple desserts that not only satiate that sweet tooth, but offers far less in the way of fat and calories than that wrapped up dish of leftover chocolate pudding or those tempting chocolate doughnuts you have been nibbling on one at a time.



Blueberry Lemon 'Custard' Pudding


     Just enough for two people, yet if I were you, I would double it because one serving just ain't gonna cut it!

3/4 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
2 eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Meringue:
1 egg white
1 tablespoon sugar




Place blueberries, with all accumulating juice from thawing(which should be about 3 tablespoons), egg, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and zest in a blender or food processor. Puree until as smooth as possible. Strain through a wire sieve into a medium saucepan. Place pan over medium heat and bring to scalding while whisking frequently. You will notice it thickening quite a bit.
Remove and pour into 2 oven safe, individual serving dishes. Cover and refrigerate until completely cooled.
When ready, preheat broiler, making sure the rack is on its lowest shelf.
Beat the egg white until soft peaks form with an electric mixer. Add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Either dollop, spoon or pipe equal amounts of meringue on top of each pudding cup.
Place under broiler for just a couple minutes, until as browned as desired. Carefully remove and serve immediately.

 


Strawberry Kiwi 'Custard' Pudding


Tangy kiwi, sweet strawberries and a smile!

1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries
2 kiwis, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup strawberry-kiwi juice *
2 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

 
Puree all ingredients until as smooth as possible. Strain through a wire sieve into a medium saucepan. Place mixture over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. This will only take a few minute.
Immediately pour into individual serving dishes or 1 large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until set and completely chilled. Enjoy as is or with whipped topping of your choice.

 
* There are various brands of 100% strawberry-kiwi juice on the market today. If you can't find it, then use any type of pure strawberry juice blend.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

I AM The Yankee Chef

 
I can't tell you how thankful I am that my brand, The Yankee Chef, has finally overcome any and all obstacles that has stood in the way for the past 3 months with regards to registering with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. As per my previous post about the New York Yankees, I was quite ill prepared to begin with when registering the name with the USPTP. Never in a million years did I think ANYONE would either object or try to delay what is obviously a "no brainah" when it came to being called The Yankee Chef. Once all my p's and q's were all lined up, I thought it would only have been a matter or time in order to finally have The Yankee Chef legally binding, but then a wrench was thrown in.....so I thought.

The New York Yankees asked for an extension of time in order to learn if I would be detrimental to their organization if I were to officially become such. The NEW YORK Yankees!!!!! Really!?!?

So I hired an attorney to represent not only my best interest, but to sort through what could possibly be so "defaming". Come to find out, it was money I didn't need to spend.

The Yankee organization was more than willing to explain everything to me and help me through the process and the reasons why they were concerned....although I still don't believe there should have been ANY concern. After all, I AM a Yankee, I AM a chef, I AM THE YANKEE CHEF!!!


At first, they wanted me to agree that I will NOT have anything to do with ANY sports team EVER...again, REALLY!?!? I couldn't endorse, work with or even have any collusion with even an amateur boxer with the name The Yankee Chef. It didn't take long to completely and utterly refuse such a silly request on their part.

So after some haggling back and forth and another long delay on their part(apparently to think it over and for the legal department to talk to the owners)they emailed me to let me know that as long as I changed my fonts on my website and logo, we were good to go....oh, and NOT to have any relationship with another baseball team.

So I thought about it long and hard, at least through one cup of coffee, and decided that the money I spent, the time I paced would be all the "side bars" I would entertain again. So be it!

I signed the final agreement and now we are good to go.

 
I will gladly thank the organization for the help and sincere friendship they showed me in finalizing our agreement. At first it bothered me, they irritated me and angered me. Now I feel quite comfortable with the end result and, although they are New Yorker's, I am proud to call them friends on a personal level.

We had a few laughs during the many phone conversations I had with them and they showed me that they were NOT the big bad guys I initially touted them as. They were there for me even when I had silly questions, They were there for me when I had sincere concerns and they were there WITH me during the final draft. Hell, I might even watch them play once in a while now.

So from a few generations of real Yankees to a team that is Yankee in name only, I say thanks. (And that was NOT a slam.....maybe an elbow in the side though.)






 



Monday, February 6, 2017

Why Didn't I Think Of That?

There have been many times, too often to recall, that I have shaken my head, sworn under my breath and just plain ol' kicked myself in the back-end because I never "thought of it". Anything from seeing an invention that is making millions of dollars to wishing I had stayed focus and marketed something that could net me the same.

I remember my brother, wayyyyy back in the early 70s, making English muffin pizzas at my parents first restaurant and thinking it was a stupid idea. I never tried it because I never thought anything but butter and jam belong on English muffins. Boy, was I wrong when just a short few years later, we began seeing these kinds of pizzas in the freezer isle of every supermarket.

I think Yankee stubborness plays a huge part in that manner of thinking as well. Take gravy for example.

I have never swayed from the classic preparation of gravy that I was taught by my Dad. "Using butter-based roux was the ONLY way to make a gravy", I thought for many decades. I never bought that sort of shiny gravy you see in the store that was obviously not made from roux.

Now with my next cookbook almost finished, I wanted to stay in focus with the overall theme, fruits, vegetables and children. How could I make a gravy that is healthy, a gravy that my children would NEVER guess I slipped in a healthy amount of vegetables, a gravy that takes mere minutes to make and a gravy with flavor that mimics the classic presentation?

Now I am sure many of you have made such a gravy in some form or another, but I urge you to come up with a gravy that encompasses ALL the above properties. This recipe does that and more.

I only use low sodium broth because it truly is too salty using regular broth. Not because of my preference to salt(which I might add is an addiction) but because the flavor of vegetables more than compensates and you may even think it is STILL too salty!

This, my friends, is the best gravy.....bar none!

I know, I know, you are probably thinking "What is the big deal with making gravy?". My answer to you is simply to ask any teenager you can if they know how to make real gravy. You will be amazed at the response! It isn't like when we were kids when parents and grandparents showed us how to cook at home, but even young adults. They will not, or can not, make homemade gravy because it is easier to buy it and heat it up. This recipe blows the competition away and only takes about 2 minutes longer than opening and heating up a jar of store bought gravy.

Chicken Gravy


 
 

Amazing Gravy

What a great way to make something that is good for you AND a phenomenal way to introduce vegetables into your childrens diet without them even knowing. I have done away with the classic roux thickener here, without any loss of flavor.

Perfect for beginners or those in a rush. This gravy should not take more than five minutes from beginnging to end and it will be the best gravy you'll ever have. For an amazingly tasty gravy without fat, simply buy fat free broth.

 

1(15-ounce)can low sodium beef or chicken broth *
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables of your choice, thawed
1 tablespoon cornstarch

 

Warm up the broth in the microwave or stove top until hot, but not scalding. Place in a food processor or blender with the last 2 ingredients and puree, on high, until you can no longer see even small bits of vegetables, about 30 seconds.

You can either strain the bulk from the vegetables from the liquid or leave as is. There will not be more than a teaspoon, if any.

Place mixture in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring almost constantly. Once boiling, remove from heat and serve.


* If you are using bouillion, use enough to flavor 2 cups water.
Beef Gravy


NOTE: I would like to touch base on two things. First, the beef gravy will not be as brown as you are used to because of the carrots in the mixed vegetables(As evidenced from both pictures above). Purchased gravy uses caramel coloring to darken the end result. And secondly, to make this recipe even quicker. Bring broth to a boil before continuing with recipe. There will be no need to bring it to a boil again if you are going to immediately consume it. The reason I prepare it as directed is because it will get slightly thicker when boiling it after pureeing and I have always brought food up to temp in all restaurants because of health code restrictions.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Understanding Flour Choices This Winter




With baking season in full swing among us in the colder climates and the ever increasing threat of celiac disease, understanding our choices of flour is a great way to shake things up in the kitchen. Without rambling on, let's take a peak of choices you may not have thought of, beginning with the standby:


All purpose flour is blended using both hard and soft wheat. You may have also noticed it comes in bleached or unbleached. Simply put, bleached means that it has had edible bleaching agents introduced to make it white, while unbleached(although it is still bleached)has been whitened naturally. Between 8-11% protein(gluten), all-purpose flour is the most easily attainable and widespread utilized flours.

 

Almond flour, which is gluten-free, has just a touch of almond flavor and should take up no more than a third of the entire amount of flour in any recipe, when combined with other flours. It is great with pies, pastries and sweet breads. It comes in a variety of colors as well, from white to dark brown. You can also make your own flour by using skinless, blanched almonds. IN a food processor, pulse 1 cup to make 1 cup flour. But only use 2 cups at the most at a time. You don't want to run your processor any longer than needed or you will end up with almond butter.

 

Amaranth flour has low gluten and is used in the same ratio as almond flour. It has even more protein than wheat flour. Did you know that amaranth seeds were responsible for almost all energy needed by the pre-Spanish conquest Aztecs?

 

Barley flour, which is also low-gluten and is simply made by grinding barley, contains 4x the fiber of all-purpose purpose flour, so use it as a substitute for up to a quarter of your total content of white flour the next time you make bread. This flour is a tremendous asset to your favorite pancake recipe as well.

 

Bread flour has more structural strength than all-purpose because of its' higher levels of protein, making it superb for.....well, yeast breads.

 

Buckwheat flour is gluten-free and has a nutty flavor. It has long been a staple in old Yankee kitchens, especially in pancakes.

 

Cake flour is much finer than all-purpose and has a high starch content. Lower in protein, you wouldn't think it gives structural substance but because it is chlorinated, it is great for recipes that need to hold their height such as sweet breads and muffins. If you don't hve cake flour but want to try it before you buy it, simply blend 1 cup all purpose flour with 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch.

 

 

Chickpea flour is aka gram and garbanzo flour. Super low in protein, it is simply made by grinding chickpeas and is traditional in Mid-East cooking. You can substitute the total flour content of a recipe by half with chickpea flour without damaging the end result in the way of texture. This type of flour is essential in Indian cooking and is available two ways, using roasted gram beans or raw. I highly suggest looking for roasted because it has much less of a bitter flavor. Did I mention that it is gluten-free?

 

Corn flour is also gluten free and comes in white or yellow, so that the North and South don't start fighting again. It is most welcome in recipes that need help in the binding department, such as crab cakes and croquettes.

 

Millet flour has a slight sweet flavor and should be used no more than a quarter of the entire flour content of any given recipe. And talk about the health benefits of millet...take a minute and look it up! But also be warned that new studies have shown that too much millet in your diet has adverse effects on your thyroid.

 

Oat flour is just that, oats that have been ground to a flour. I make this all the time at home because, let's face it, who doesn't have rolled oats laying around? Simply pulse it in a blender or food processor for a minute and there you go. A great partial substitution to all breads.

 

Pumpernickel flour is also low gluten and made from a combination of rye flour and whole rye berries that have been pulverized. It IS available in its pure form however. If you like old world charm and taste, you have it all in this flour.

 

Quinoa flour is gluten-free, a great 1:1 mix with all-purpose flour in recipes, but tends to be expensive.

 

Rice flour can be found in varying colors because it is made from varying rice grains. From white to wild, you can make this at home s well. And as for oat flour, I dare say every single one of you have rice at home that has been sitting up in the cupboard for ages. Take it, pulse it and use it. It's Just That Simple!

 

Rye flour comes in so many colors it is hard to get any information in one small paragraph. I use white rye in a recipe or two here and there, but this flour can be used by those of you who suffer diabetes because it is low in gluten.

 

Semolina flour is expensive. That is why most of the time when you see semolina, it is already used in pasta. It has the highest protein of all flours.

 

Sorghum flour is gluten-free and a superb substitution for whole wheat in bread recipes. This nutritional powerhouse provides 50% or your fiber needed for a day in just 1 cup. It is one of the few that is processed using 100% whole grain kernel and is considered one of the top 5 cereal crops grown today. Sorghum blends are also available and widely popular.

 

Soy flour is gluten-free and can be found in varying levels of fat. Remember that the more fat content of the soy flour you buy, the higher the chance that you will have to keep it refrigerated between uses. Choose wisely when using in any sweet recipe and never use more than a quarter of the entire flour content of any recipe.

 

Spelt flour is low in gluten and very popular lately because of its nutriyional content, fat soluble protein and sweet flavor.

 

Tapioca flour is gluten free and known as tapioca starch. It is one of the very few flours that actually improves the texture in baked goods when sticking with a gluten-free recipe. It is a superior thickening agent in puddings, fruit pies and desserts.

 

Teff flour is also gluten free, higher in protein than wheat and is abundant in calcium and iron. Very high in fiber, it is thought to help regulate blood sugar levels, making it a winner with people suffering from diabetes. Athletes are now discovering the "energy properties' of adding teff to their diets.

 

 

Whole-wheat flour is low in gluten and also called graham flour. This flour is so-so among all flours and not extraordinary by itself. A good partial substitution for all-purpose flours, however, because it cuts down on the gluten levels of other flours.

 

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Progression.....

My grandfather, the first Yankee Chef
.....of three generations of Yankee Chefs(Yup, I can hear it now. The Yankees are going to have a head fit about me using the word YANKEE as a stand-alone word, hahahaha)

(Although I owe much of my worthiness to my stepmother, Anne, and I can't even begin to thank her for all she went through while I was growing up, this post simply alludes to the three Yankee Chefs)  

I have been blessed with a lineage of a true Yankee(there I go again), the love of the violin, the never-ending desire to learn, the incessant need to read and the DNA of a cook.

My father, the second Yankee Chef, never considered himself a chef, nor did his father(my grandfather Samuel)before him. He never wanted anyone to call him such because he considered himself no better than the "next fellar" on the line with him. I have people calling me chef when I walk in through the door of my neighborhood store, and the first thing that comes out of my mouth is "JIM! Call me JIM!". 

 

Dad at Howard Johnsons


It was that sort of personality, and subsequent work ethic, that both separated all three generations of Yankee chefs from those who think of themselves as above their peers. But at the same time, endeared ourselves in the circle of those who were prep cooks, dishwashers, fry cooks and the like.

All three of us went through the toil of learning our craft from the ground floor up, rather than jumping into the cooking schools that, for the most part, churn out students that demand a 6-figure income immediately upon graduating without knowing what the pleats on a chefs hat is.



Samuel Bailey(the first Yankee chef)was born in 1902 and chose, as his first career, the violin. He attended the Boston Conservatory of Music and graduated in 1922. During his stint at the school, he picked up the dish rag and washed dishes, learned the craft of cooking in the Boston area and, as time progressed without the income of teaching, he toiled away at various restaurants in Massachusetts and Maine.

In Bangor, Maine, he cooked at well-known places such as the Bangor House and the old Adams House. He also cooked as lesser known establishments whose names are lost to history.

In the 1940s, he was in Lincoln, Maine with his only son, Jack(my father)and opened up Sam's Clam Shell, on the lake downtown. Through the generosity of his brother 'Woody', he bought his deep fryer and was not only known for his breaded and batter-fried clams, but also for his hot dogs that he plunked down in the hot grease, only to emerge blackened and split. I don't know how long he keep the shack running, but it was only for a couple years.





He is then found in Bangor with his sweetheart Doris Street. She, too, was a cook and one of the most no-nonsense, stubborn and cantankerous woman I ever knew. How my grandfather and her ever cooked side-by-side together will never be understood. For there are still stories abounding about how she used to get so mad at Sam that she would chase him around the kitchen with a cleaver!

We loved her dearly. For it was this type of woman you want in your corner when the times got tough.

The love of music, his violin and the determination of hard work was genetically passed to his son, Jack, when Sam died in 1967.

 

Jack(Dad)began his cooking career while in the Navy from 1956 to 1960. He always told me it was the best job he ever had and it was, by far, the most enviest of all jobs aboard a destroyer.

Upon his honorable discharge, he and his father opened up the Bangor Exchange Restaurant, at Pickering Square until 1963.


 
 
The cover of Dads journal of expenses for the Bangor Exchange

 


When it closed down, he started cooking at Howard Johnson's Restaurant in Bangor, working his way up to chef. It was here that I fondly remember taking our weekly car ride with my brothers and sister for that anticipated ice cream cone. Times were simple and that truly was a treat at the time.
 
 
 
Other restaurants Jack cooked at were the Bangor House, Quality Bakery, Checkmate, Brass Rail, Peter's, Perry's, Judy's, Treadwell's as well as a few others I will refrain from adding so that you don't all asleep. During this time, my father entered the Northern Conservatory of Music and excelled until they decided to shut the doors on the students. What a shame graduation would elude him but I was gifted with his music books from the school, as well as Sam's books from Boston.

In 1976, his and my mother loaded us kids and moved lock, stock and barrel to Canaan, Maine. This little corner of the "boonies" was the site of his very first restaurant that Dad could call his own. It was called Dickey's. From there, Mom and Dad opened Oak Pond Restaurant in the same town, ran the Eaton Mountain kitchen and then back to Dickey's, this time renaming it the Canaan Country Kitchen.

 

Dad worked side by side with one of the best chefs in Maine, in the way of Florence Stearns, of Skowhegan. She owned the Candlelighter, which was an upscale restaurant in the heart of the city. But because of personal events, my father and I ended up together, with the rest of the family living with my mother.

Together we moved back to Bangor during my senior year of high school and each found a job cooking at Peter's.

 


Boy, I thought life was tough when my father wanted me to dishwash and learn cooking at the age of 14 at Treadwells!

 

While we both worked at the same restaurant in '79/'80, I worked the 3-11 shift, which meant directly after school, I needed to be in the kitchen. And this was full time.

How I balanced making a living, having a social life with my best friend Rob, becoming a magician and escape artist, boxing AND making sure my homework was done I will never know! I often tell my children about this in order that they may THINK before the next time they speak about how rough it is to balance their time with the ps4 and homework, LOL.

 


It was still just me and Dad and I think the best way to describe my motivation was my endearment to my Dad, my devotion to him, my adoration.....

He was my world and there was no better man in my eyes than him. Sure, we all had our faults, our pitfalls and our weaknesses. Hell, I was the slave to the bottle for many years, but not in the sense of it ruining or controlling my life, but the omission of any asset that I could have easily acquired had it not been for spending my money on beer.

My fathers' struggle was the opposite though. After over 10 years with a new liver, my mentor passed in 2001. He passed on the same hard working attributes that his father gave to him, to me.

I also was the benefactor of the same violin my grandfather used, and the same one my Dad played throughout his life. And yes, I have been a violinist since the age of 6 believe it or not.

I held just as many jobs in the restaurant industry as my grandfather and father. I jumped from one kitchen to another, never to stay in once place very long. It wasn't because I couldn't handle it because I was NEVER fired from any job I held. I think it was my missing youth re-emerging and wanting to experience everything I missed out on while young. Women, fun, adventure and the like.

Killarney's, Judy's, Perry's, Checkmate, the Chuck Wagon, Donnely's, Governor's, Coachhouse as well as various restaurants around the country during my "ambitious" days shaped me into a cook/chef that can stand up to any television chef as well as any line cook anywhere.
Could this be the FOURTH Yankee Chef?

At the time, I just wanted a paycheck to cover my social life, not realizing that I was learning more and more as time progressed. Even though I didn't have a "pot to piss in", I was inadvertently expanding my knowledge of the craft.

My life has not even entered into its' final chapter. Although I have brought myself up by the straps of my boots, I continue to love what was handed to me, and am grateful that the two Yankee Chefs before me has transformed a simple and humble boy into a man that can challenge absolutely any line cook anywhere, and I mean from the greasy spoon diner to those on television that cannot go on with their lives unless they are referred to as CHEF.

Step back and ask yourself, "Are you really better than the cook that works incessantly just to get by?"

I was that guy and will raise my fathers spatula to anyone who believes otherwise!

 


 

                                It's Just That Simple!