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Recipes by Type

Wounded Digit




In my twenty years of professional cooking I had great knife skills. While other cooks I worked with cut themselves on average about once per year I had a once every four years average, and the cuts were never serious. When I cut myself last night on my Oxo mandoline I burst out in a short string of obscenities. My little finger on my right hand apparently was not paying attention to the razor sharp blade that was slicing cabbage like a paper shredder. It was a real attention getter and hurt plenty while bleeding according to the laws that say, “When you cut out a chunk of flesh, you will bleed profusely!”


Of course it happened towards the beginning of dinner prep making the rest of the meal a challenge to prepare. There was zucchini to cut into bite sized cubes, sans fingers. There were onions to chop and eggplant to slice. It was all quite hindered by the creeping thought of, “You will do it again if you are not careful!” from that little voice that is supposed to protect us. This little voice however was just irritating me on this occasion. Dinner prep did get done, albeit much slower than usual. The paper napkin that I wrapped my bleeding finger in needed a replacement soon. I went upstairs for a bandage and was again reminded of the diabolical minds that package bandages in those impossible to open wrappings. They probably do tests with a hidden camera on volunteers who cut themselves then try to open a bandage packaged by maniacs while the test observers are laughing their collective asses off behind oneway glass.

the look on my face when I cut my finger was something like this

the look on my face when I cut my finger was something like this

For the next hour I tried my best to keep the poor little pinkie elevated to slow the bleeding and throbbing having thoughts of where was that protective mandoline guide that would have saved my finger the pain and my mind the turmoil? Then it occurred to me that I would have an interesting couple of days ahead  as I engaged in my travel/food writing at the computer. It’s not enough that the bandage gets in the way but the cut is toward the tip of my finger making typing as smooth as a soccer player kicking a ball with a foot in a cast. It can be done, but it hurts and doesn’t go so well.


I always like to look on the bright side of things and it occurred to me that with this cut I now have four years of cut-free chopping, slicing and dicing ahead if history is any indicator. To avoid any knife work over the next couple days while my finger heals I could just go out to eat or cook heat-and-eat foods…yuk! When it comes to typing I will just have to blunder through the pain and discomfort hoping for a speedy recovery.


There is a lesson to this mistake that says; “Those who don’t use proper protection shall type hindered for days and shall type badly.” So my friends take care of thy digits and don’t be stupid when handling sharp objects while preparing dinner or you will type like meeeeeeeee.

4 States, 4 Days, 2 Brothers

When I called up my brother Victor to ask him what I wanted for my sixtieth birthday present he said, “yes”. My request was for a car and co-pilot to drive to South and North Dakota to check off the last two states I hadn’t been to. This  bucket list  request was not easy to agree to with his aging hip making car travel uncomfortable, and the Dakotas not exactly tops on most vacations lists. But with me taking the wheel for much of the trip he could wiggle and squirm into a satisfactory position in the passenger seat alleviating the pesky hip pain while watching the flat landscapes go by.

Pawnee National Grasslands

The plan was set for me to fly to Denver to rendezvous with him on his way home from Grand Junction. With a good night’s rest we would head out bright and early on Tuesday September 29th for a first stop at the Pawnee Buttes. After gawking at the buttes we would then head up to the Black Hills of South Dakota by way of Scottsbluff, Nebraska and on to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota before ending up in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Colorado short grass prairie

Colorado short grass prairie

Not many Americans think of going to the Dakotas for a vacation. The Black Hills receive most of the visitors to the region thanks to Deadwood and Mt Rushmore. The Dakotas are blessed with a lot of fairly flat farm land and not known for natural beauty. Since I wanted to be able to claim I had visited all fifty states I was prepared to go, and go with an open mind. Growing up in Colorado I only thought of the Dakotas as a place to go pheasant hunting, and nothing else attracted me.
Autumn in Colorado is a mix of hot days, cool nights and lots of sunshine. On the day of our departure we were blessed with the opposite and I appreciated the overcast skies as I drove east through the beginnings of Denver’s rush hour at 6:30 a.m. in light traffic. It is a tough drive to head east out of Denver at sunrise with the blinding sunlight making driving difficult for an hour or more. With the clouds also came light rain thirty minutes into our drive slowing our highway speed to sixty-five mph instead of seventy-five.
We pulled into Fort Morgan an hour and a half into our long road trip to buy reading glasses at the nearest Walgreens. I had grabbed what I thought were my glasses, but ended up being an empty reading glasses case from home. A minor nuisance. The next stop was a photo stop on the edge of Fort Morgan to shoot the old concrete arch bridge. I have never seen one like it in all my travels and even though it is no longer supporting traffic they kept it for pedestrians and bicyclists.
As we headed north on State Highway 52 the light rain quit but the clouds held their grip on the sun. I was surprised that the road turned from pavement to dirt after just a few miles. It was nice that the rain had settled the dust for this long dirt road drive. Speeding along at 45 mph I was soon dodging large potholes that threatened to swallow our car. It didn’t take long to see why the pot holes were formed. In an hour of driving to Pawnee Buttes from Fort Morgan we saw at least thirty oilfield tanker trucks grinding along these bustling oilfield areas plus a dozen or more pickups with oilfield workers.
One oddity we saw on the trip was a strange looking compound I figured was US Government property. When we saw another just like it an hour later we knew what it was. Long ago in the cold war the U.S. built nuclear missile silos underground in Colorado as well as other western states. These were two of those nuclear nightmare reminders from our youth when we wondered if the commies would bomb little old’ Denver due to the missiles nearby. If I had known we would be passing close to the National Park Service’s Minuteman Missile Historic site near Rapid City it would have been on the must see list.
I had been to the Buttes some fifteen years ago and at that time there were few oil operations in the area. Now there are oil drill pads all over the Pawnee National grasslands that encroach within a mile of the scenic Buttes. Having been a cook on oil rigs I am somewhat tolerant of oil development but this was too much to surround the Buttes with several oil operations within such close proximity to this sacred place. I was glad to see some natural short grass prairie fairly intact and undeveloped when not burdened with oil wells or cows. It was along this route that we saw two antelope just forty feet away running parallel to our car at thirty-five mph with Victor snapping shots of them in full view as they raced along a fence line.
racing the antelope

racing the antelope

When we arrived at the turnoff to the Buttes the road changed from two lane dirt road to what looked like a rugged remnant of the Oregon Trail! I stopped and shot photos of it due to the color of the grasslands and the primitive nature of the two track road. The Buttes didn’t show themselves until we were within a couple hundred yards of the trailhead. The Pawnee Buttes are not like most hill type structures that are uplifted from an ancient seafloor. They are the remnant of previous ground level with the surrounding land eroded away leaving these three hundred foot buttes towering above the prairie.
The road to the buttes.

The road to the buttes.

The clouds cloaked the tops of the Buttes and made for a magical view of this semi-arid landscape. There could have been Golden Eagles perched up there in the mist, but we wouldn’t have known it. We walked around for about fifteen minutes photographing this place few Coloradans have ever seen or even heard of. Meadowlarks serenaded us constantly and I answered back whistling their melodious song as best as I could. Our peaceful walk was interrupted by the sound of oil field workers and rigs punctuating the serene landscape. We said goodbye to this hidden world and hiked back to the car.
With the Buttes checked of my list it was time to do some serious driving up to South Dakota’s Black Hills. We drove back to the blissful blacktop of Colorado State Highway 14 and headed east to highway 71 taking north into Nebraska. We saw the flats give way to buttes and hills as we approached Scottsbluff, Nebraska under sunny skies and I was surprised to see so many pine and juniper trees. Nebraska is known for corn and flat lands, not trees and hills but here they were and quite scenic too.
Nearing Scottsbluff.

Nearing Chadron,NE.

Scottsbluff was our pit stop for lunch and an oil change before grinding on up to Deadwood. We stopped for a photo of me and the welcome to South Dakota sign before many miles of changing scenery. With no maps we were relying on our smart phones to guide us there. Note to all you travelers: bring a map! You just can’t trust a smart phone to find the best route in this situation and need another source, especially if you lose signal.
One state left!

One state left!

We rolled into Deadwood after a gorgeous drive through the heart of Black Hills country. Road construction halted our progress half a mile from downtown Deadwood. We were right in front of the Super 8 hotel and decided to pull in to investigate. At $83 for a Creekside room I thought it would be perfect. We unpacked then walked the creek trail fifteen minutes into the center of town giving our legs a much needed workout.
The creekside walkway into Deadwood.

The creekside walkway into Deadwood.

We had a great meal at the Deadwood Social Club where the walls are decorated with all things 1870’s mining town. I knew this was going to be the best restaurant of the trip so we lived it up like a miner in town with cash. The wine flowed and the food kept coming until we parted ways with the club. Before we left I had to read about twenty minutes of new clips and facts on the area. We learned that prostitution was alive and well in Deadwood right up to 1980!
Pork shank at Deadwood Social Club.

Pork shank at Deadwood Social Club.

Breakfast was free and ample and with coffee in Victor’s cup we were off like a jack rabbit for the badlands of North Dakota. Within a half hour of driving we headed north out of Belle Fourche, South Dakota where the sign warned “no services for 44 miles”. We were engulfed in thick prairie fog five minutes later. It was so thick we couldn’t see more than a quarter mile for miles in this eerie prairie cloud land. After a half an hour we busted through the fog and beheld golden and burgundy vistas of mowed grain fields and distant hills. Antelope were seen every few minutes looking at us as we pulled over for photos before we entered the fog again. For most of the next forty-five minutes we motored on through the fog until we came upon a bird, (Prairie Chicken) I thought was extinct! With a little research I found out that they were almost extinct in the 1930’s from loss of habitat and hunting pressure. It was a thrill to see these birds in their natural habitat posing for photos.
Curious antelope

Curious antelope

After finally busted out of the last of the fog we continued north on highway 85. I posed for a shot under the welcome to North Dakota sign holding up five outstretched fingers in one hand and a zero in the other signifying fifty states visited. Blasting northward at 65 mph I saw something far up ahead that looked like a mirage. Before we reached the mirage we saw an electric company truck working on the wires that crossed the highway and then we saw the house! We slowed to a crawl as we noticed two more electric crews working on the wire crossing the highway to allow a house moving operation to safely pass under with a large two story house they were moving to parts unknown.
Time to pull over to let the house pass.

Time to pull over to let the house pass.

It was quite a sight on this sparsely traveled rural highway and quite amusing. If you drive a lot of miles on rural roads you never know what you might see. Not long after the house on wheels we saw a male pheasant perched on a round hay bale next to the highway. I have seen many a pheasant over the course of my life but never seen one perched on anything since this is a ground loving bird. At 65 mph it is easy to miss some photo opportunities and we missed that one.
All fifty states visited!

All fifty states visited!

We rolled into T.R. National Park around eleven a.m. and walked a short loop trail for twenty minutes before hitting the road. We stopped at the overlook for photos of the denuded colorful landscape they call “Painted Canyon” and headed eastward looking for lunch choices. Within forty-five minutes we arrived in Dickenson, ND and witnessed the expansion of oilfield operations in the area. Growth was obvious in this prairie town and the shopping center we pulled into was so new that most of the restaurants and shops had not been occupied yet. On the east side of town I saw a stretch of land that had what seemed to be an oil pump or tanks every quarter mile for several miles just next to the highway. The mighty oil dollar is flowing strong in these parts for now. Hard to say what it will be like in ten years?
T. R. Ntl park.

T. R. Ntl park.

We drove on to Pierre, South Dakota for a much needed rest before the final push to Lincoln, Nebraska. In Pierre we had a peaceful walk along the Missouri River. The river walk trail offered a good photo opportunity to watch the sun fade and the clouds and river become a dark purple floor-to-ceiling light show. We shot several photos of Pierre’s waterfront park and path before succumbing to the need for sleep.
Pierre S.D. river walk.

Pierre S.D. river walk.

On our final day we hit the road at 6:15 a.m. to allow time for a stop at the famous Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. Since it is the world’s only surviving corn palace we just had to see it, and be part of the 500,000 visitors each year. Sporting a depiction of Willie Nelson made with corn and grasses this Corn Palace was a different!. The other panel was being scraped in preparation of a new scene or person to show off. Inside were pictures of all the past corn palaces, and there were many with stories too. One that amused me was about John Phillip Sousa (a music star of the day) having arrived to fulfill a contract of two shows per day refused to get off the train when he saw the town’s dirt streets and no sidewalks. He thought they couldn’t pay his fee, but local bankers met and decided to hand deliver his fee of 7,500 dollars to the parked train. Sousa was impressed and not only played the shows but added one per day for the engagement.
Willie in corn.

Willie in corn.

With the Corn Palace behind us off we drove south towards Lincoln, Nebraska. Amongst the many towns I had never heard of was Columbus, Nebraska where friends of my brother’s told of a favorite lunch spot. Dusters is a brew pub with banquet rooms, a barroom, and a semi-formal dining room on the main drag of this prairie town. It was a great lunch stop and my brother indulged in a beer and a porkstrami sandwich that was as good as it gets. I made due with a vegetarian pizza and no beer.
A yummy veggie pizza.

A yummy veggie pizza.

With just three hours left in our road trip I was already thinking of the end of our time together. I am so lucky to have a brother who is willing to give up four days to drive the prairie to help me out. We had many a good chat about growing old, our parents and the land. When traveling it is good to remember it is not the destination that is most meaningful but the trip itself. As I near my sixtieth birthday I look back on an amazing life with the best family one could hope for. With any luck we will be around to mark the seventieth milestones and more with another special trip.
Note: Most photos by Vic Jacobson.
Railroad bridge over the Missouri River in Pierre.

Railroad bridge over the Missouri River in Pierre.

Goodbye FastandFuriousCook.com?


A Farewell to Blogging


When the bill came for blog hosting I was in shock! How could I justify paying $359.64 on a blog that has made less than $100 since it was started in November 2012? That doesn’t include the upcoming bill in December for email subscriber services for around $150. I have enjoyed developing recipes and writing about good and healthy foods for this last thirty-three months but the writing is on the wall. In a month or two I’ll probably shut it down and move on to travel/food writing as a freelancer.


Before that fateful day comes I’ll continue to post when the spirit moves me and my schedule allows. It takes four to five hours to put a blog post together, and I’m amazed at the women bloggers I have met that juggle kids, home and blogging. If you have enjoyed the recipes and writing I am glad for that. I am also glad to have discovered my love for writing and am grateful for this blog showing me that path.


Please help yourself to the recipes while they are still available. Looking back here are some of my favorites you might want to try.


In the soup category the winners are:


Royal Trumpet Soup




Mushroom Chowder



In the main dishes section the winners are:


Aztec Slow Cooker Turkey


Salmon Rice Bowl


Grilled Portabella Sandwich


One Pan Wonder-Shrimp Fried Rice


Lamb and Mushroom Stew



Okay, after all that looking back I am getting hungry! Time to go upstairs and fix a fast and furious lunch with some corn tortillas and feta cheese that need to get used up. It is possible some miracle could happen and I get the assignments us bloggers hope for and I’ll keep it going, but don’t hold your breath. I hope you all continue to visit and comment on my blog over the next several posts before the end. Look for my posting once per week if time, and inspiration allows. Until then, eat well and treat your fellow mankind well too.

Grandma’s Green Beans

A Farm to Table Story


I was lucky to grow up with an appreciation for fresh produce from farms and gardens. My grandparents in St Louis, Missouri taught me much about where food comes from. My grandfather, even though full-time employed with the St Louis Water Division, kept a garden in the back yard where I was introduced to veggie gardening. He grew a few tomatoes, okra, and string beans, but later on in life a friend of his gave him about a quarter of an acre on the edge of a large cornfield to grow a real vegetable garden.


In this large garden he grew tons of tomatoes, green beans, bell peppers, squash, okra, and corn. The summer of 1970 found me banished from my home and sent to Cleveland then St Louis where my parents thought my relatives would straighten my rebel fifteen year old self out. In St Louis I helped grandpa with the garden and would help grandma can green beans for their winter supply. She also canned corn, okra and tomatoes. I learned a lot from them that summer such as, four vegetable dishes on the supper table was just about the right amount, and that a troublesome fifteen year old can just about go through a wooden fence when tossed by a pissed off Grandpa. I also learned that leftover green beans or okra was just as good as the day before.


This was the real deal Farm-to-Table existence long before the current movement took hold. They didn’t know any other way as both of them grew up on farms. Yes they could have bought many of their vegetables from grocery stores back then but I think they knew the best flavor was to be found in veggies they knew the source from which they came. These were tomatoes with a rich sweet taste that smacked of the ground they grew in. That wonderful dark, almost fluffy soil made for some of the best vegetables I have ever tasted. The hot humid climate was perfect for the veggies grandpa chose to grow there, especially the tomatoes.


Twice a week during my extended stay in St Louis grandpa and I would go to the farm to weed, and harvest the crops. It was there that I truly learned what a good tomato tastes like. It would be a typical 90° day with high humidity and grandpa would call me over to the tomato patch he was working on. Then he would take out his razor sharp pocket knife and cut two large ripe tomatoes from the vine. In his other pocket he brought a salt shaker and after the red orb was cut in half would sprinkle his tomato with salt and eat it right on the spot with juice running down his chin. I would follow his lead and it was on that spot I learned that this was what a tomato was supposed to taste like. During tomato season almost every meal was supplemented by a plate of sliced tomatoes. Now that’s good eating!


Grandma served her special Grandma’s Green Beans recipe at least once per week and I never tired of it, but I did tire of cutting green beans. She would cook bacon, onion and green beans that would be at home in any Farm-to-Table restaurant. There were no herbs needed to flavor this heirloom veggie dish. The flavor was carried by the top quality green beans, onions and bacon.  It was a memorable trip to St Louis that I have strong memories from, mostly good ones.


Try this recipe yourself and see if you agree it is one of the best veggie dishes ever. Just be sure and make the whole batch because the leftovers are good for 2-3 days after and heat up in a jiffy. If you can’t get good fresh green beans frozen will do, but use the best Applewood bacon you can get your hands on.

Here’s to good healthy eating. Enjoy!


Grandma’s Green Beans


1 pound fresh or frozen green beans

½ cup yellow onion, chopped

2 slices of bacon cut into ½ inch pieces

½ teaspoon oil


If using fresh green beans wash and then trim the stem end off. Cut to about four inch lengths for easier stirring in the pot.

In a 3 ½ quart to 4 ½ Le Cruset™ or similar heavy type of cooking pot with lid add oil and bacon cooking on medium heat for 3 minutes stirring every 30 seconds or so.

Add onions and cook on medium low heat stirring often for 5 minutes.

Drain the oil and bacon grease and add green beans plus a quarter cup of water and continue cooking without stirring for 5 minutes covered on medium low.

Stir and continue cooking on medium low heat covered for five minutes covered.*

At this point you can let it cook for another 10 minutes before uncovering, adding salt and fresh ground pepper to taste and stirring. If it is dry on the bottom of the pot add a bit more water-2 tablespoons should do.

Now the beans have been cooking for 20 minutes and are either close or will need about 10 more minutes depending on the size and tenderness of the beans. Taste one to see if it needs more cooking time, or seasoning.

Serves 4-6



It’s okay if the beans come to the top of the pot as in 10-15 minutes they will shrink considerably.

Halibut Ceviche

Gilding the Lily
My mother had many saying that have stuck with me all these years. Gilding the lily was one she used when something was needlessly overdone in an attempt to make it more pleasing. This past May I had the pleasure to dine at the world famous Herb Farm in Woodenville, Washington. I had heard for years how this exquisite restaurant would ply it’s customers with the freshest produce and other bounty from the Northwest.
                It is a very expensive restaurant to visit and not easy to get in due to its popularity. I was thrilled to acquire reservations in late May during salmon season. My favorite salmon was on the menu and it was sure to be great. The only problem is the chef decided the lily needed to be gilded. Here was the rich and fatty king salmon from the Copper River near Cordova, Alaska butchered beyond belief with all manner of trendy restaurant excess. It was cooked in a sous vide method and served mushy and over seasoned ruining an incredible salmon entree.
                The red salmon fared little better being over prepped with all manner of things a chef could do to impress the customers. If only he would have respected the fish for what it is, already near perfect, he might have thought to use the lemon thyme, from their herb garden, and high-end local butter on the salmon. At least the smoked salmon started on a skewer was done well. The rest of the meal was quite good and the wines excellent and rare. For $700 the two of us expected more though.
                It’s hard to blame the chef being in the day and age of star chefs and dozens of cooking shows he was probably pressured to keep up with false notion that everything must have three to four items in the description of the meal to impress the customer. Here is what an item on the menu might look like:
Bogus Ranch lamb chops, grilled over young North West alder, in a sauce of Mt Rainier foraged blackberries scented with Columbia Valley Syrah.
Everything on the menu has to highlight two to three items of not-so-ordinary ingredients to be worthy it seems, at least in the high-end fine-dining restaurants.
Mix the tomatoes in gently.

Mix the tomatoes in gently.

                What ever happened to grilled lamb chops with chef’s special seasoning blend? Or baked Alaska king salmon with fresh herb butter? Have we forgotten that when you start with quality ingredients they need little else to be great? I hope not. I’ll keep my eyes open to restaurants that don’t gild the lilly and still serve great food from the source. Meanwhile I’ll still cook up simple foods sourced from nearby farms, or my own garden and share the recipes free of charge to my readers.
                This recipe for halibut ceviche takes a fish that is known for its versatility and flavor. Whether I’m baking, sautéing, grilling or stir-frying halibut it is one of my favorite gifts from the sea. This recipe lets the pure taste of the halibut come through while delighting the taste buds with jalapeno, onion, lime, cilantro and a hint of garlic. It makes an exceptional starter served with tortilla chips and avocado slices. Pair it with a crisp Pinot Gris or Chablis and you have a winner.

Halibut Ceviche

1 pound halibut filet

1/2 cup lime juice

1/2 cup chopped or sliced red onion

1-2 fresh jalapeños sliced thin

1 small clove of garlic minced

1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped cilantro

1 1/2 cup diced tomatoes

1 -1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Cut halibut in pieces 1 1/2 inch long by 3/8 inch thick and however high that particular filet is.

Put lime juice, jalapeños, olive oil and garlic in a medium sized mixing bowl and mix briefly.

Add halibut, onion and cilantro and mix.

Add tomatoes and salt mixing gently to not break up the tomatoes.

Store in fridge covered for 24-36 hours mixing three times about every 8-12 hours.

Serve with tortilla chips and sliced avocado garnished with fresh cilantro.

Serves 6-8

Halibut Tacos

Halibut tacos were on the menu at my house yesterday and boy were they yummy. Thanks to the abundance of halibut I caught on my recent trip to Alaska I have lots to experiment with and figured they would work in a taco recipe. Of course I made up my own as I wanted it to be fast, healthy and easy.
Halibut is one of the best fish in the sea as far as I’m concerned. It has a less fishy taste than most fish and a great firm texture. It is lean and works with many types of fish recipes. It also has very little waste. The eighty pound halibut we caught yielded sixty pounds of meat! For those of you who can’t, or don’t want to go to Alaska to catch your own; halibut is available most of the year fresh in many grocery stores.
At around $20 per pound it is not cheap but definitely worth the splurge once in a while. This recipe is a perfect summer lunch or dinner item since it takes just a few minutes to make. Who wants to be in a hot kitchen any longer than necessary, in summer or winter for that matter? With this taco recipe you can use many different types of greens like: iceberg lettuce, spring greens, arugula or even cilantro. I like a bit of habanero hot sauce drizzled over the top of mine for a serious kick.
dust with blackening spice

dust with blackening spice

I hope you give it a try and see if you agree that halibut is one very special fish.

Halibut Tacos

1 pound halibut, cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon oil, avocado or regular olive oil

1 tablespoon blackening spice or chili powder*

4 ounces shredded asiago cheese

4 ounces of salad greens, or arugula

8 taco shells, hard or soft

Spread halibut out on a large plate or sheet pan and dust with blackening spice.*

In a 10-12 inch saute pan heat oil on med-high heat just until it starts to smoke.

Add halibut and cook for 1-2 minutes before turning or stirring halibut. You want to get it cooked on all sides but don’t overcook it. After turning the halibut it only takes 2 minutes for it to be cooked.

Add cooked halibut to taco shells and then add cheese. Cook under a broiler for 1 minute if you want the cheese melted. I just let the heat of the halibut warm the cheese.

Add greens and serve with a side of salsa, or pico de gallo.

Serves four.

If you are using frozen halibut it is usually quite wet and needs to be dried on paper towels before dusting with blackening spice.

You can use just about any commercially available blackening spice blend sold in grocery stores. If not available here is a simple recipe to make your own:

1 T salt

1 T chili powder

1 t dried oregano

1 T paprika

1-2 t cayenne pepper

1 T granulated garlic

1 t onion powder

1 t dried thyme

2 t ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and you have your very own blackening spice.

Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad

Carrying on a salad themed stretch I made this Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad for a perfect summer starter. After all it has been hot here in Baltimore, and when it is hot and humid I like to spend as little time in the kitchen for dinner preparation as possible. Yesterday it hit 92° and with high humidity felt like 110°! There is no relief in sight with more of the same or hotter today and tomorrow.
However, this seems to be fine with my tomato crop as long as I remember to water it. We have gotten away with a milder summer so far and I’m very thankful for that. For you lucky folks in Texas you know about heat, and have been getting your share this summer. With this kind of heat I try and do what some people call “planned overs”, not leftovers. This method of food planning call for cooking some extra of whatever is called for the day before and using the next day to shorten prep time. In this case I cooked three extra ears of corn to use in this salad.
I had some surprise “volunteer” cilantro to use in this salad as well as plenty of my home grown tomatoes from my garden. I also picked a cayenne pepper for the heat component and bought the avocados from my local Costco. I was all set to put together one of my favorite types of salad, a spicy one with corn.
stir gently

stir gently

I was introduced to Kastania Greek olive oil, a high end extra virgin blend from the southern province of Laconia, at a tasting on Friday in Kennett Square, PA. I liked it right away but the more I use it the better it tastes to me. It has a smooth, almost buttery taste that is perfect for this salad.  Using local Maryland Silver Queen corn this sweet and spicy salad is delicious.
Next time you cook up a batch of corn-on-the-cob be sure to cook three extra and try this recipe out. I’m sure it will please even the most discriminating eaters. To make it a bit more special I’m giving away a bottle of Kastania extra virgin olive oil to one lucky reader. All you have to do is comment on this post to be entered. If you comment on my Facebook page you will get an extra entry. Just go to www.Facebook.com/FastAndFuriousCook and leave a comment. I hope you all like this one as much as I do.

Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad

3 cups cooked corn

1 cup diced tomato

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, or parsley

1 firm avocado cut into bite sized pieces, see note

2-3 tablespoons chopped chives or onion

juice of one lime, about 1-2 tablespoons

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 jalapeño minced, optional

salt to taste

In a 4 quart mixing bowl mix all ingredients except avocado.

Gently mix in avocado.

Add salt to taste and serve right away or chill for an hour or two.

Serves four to six.


If your avocado is too soft it breaks down a bit much but you can still use it if you stir it in very gently.

Spicy Asian Slaw

I love traveling for so many reasons. One of the big ones is learning about new foods and recipes. On our recent trip to South Passage Outfitters in Alaska I picked up some ideas for new recipes to test and post. We ate well and fished hard at the camp for the six days we spent there. I even got to cook the shrimp one night as a small guest chef appearance. Other than that I was just one of the happy customers at the communal table stuffing my face each meal with excellent food.I already posted the bean dip that I was inspired to create from that trip and now I have made up a tasty cabbage slaw.
I have had Japanese rice vinegar in my pantry for a few years now ever since my mother-in-law brought it for a recipe she made. I have used it for soba noodle salads and some salad dressings but never with mayonnaise. This vinegar is not as harsh as most we Americans use and can be sweet rice or there is a lite version with less sugar and salt.
Up in Alaska our hostess/cook, (Peggy) made a delicious cabbage slaw with the Marukan gourmet rice vinegar, and all of us loved it. She told me that particular vinegar is one of her favorite ingredients. The salad she made is simple, healthy, inexpensive and delicious. The next day we were just about to polish off the leftovers when we found out the float plane was coming early to pick us up and the mad scramble ensued. We had to get our gear down to the boat dock and our frozen fish boxed up quickly and missed out on the cabbage slaw.  I knew I had to re-create it when I got home since I was cheated out of a second helping.
pour and mix

pour and mix

I wanted to make my own version though. Hot peppers had to be part of the recipe and since I had beautiful fresh carrots from my garden they had to join the salad party too. For the hot stuff I added my Caribbean Red Habanero hot sauce and the results were great! Here was a fast and easy salad using one of my favorite vegetables, (cabbage) for hot summertime eating. With the heat of summer upon us I eat a salad of some sort or another most every day. Whether it is a main dish or a side dish, summer salads are a hit. I hope you give this one a try, with or without the hot sauce and see if you agree it’s one of the best out there. As always please help me out with your comments and share with friends and family.
All that's missing is a cold glass of sake.

All that’s missing is a cold glass of sake.

Spicy Asian Slaw

1 pound green cabbage

3/4 cup shredded carrot

1/3 cup mayonnaise

3-4 tablespoons rice vinegar, depending on how thin you want the dressing

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin,optional

1/2-1 teaspoon hot sauce, like Sri Racha etc.

Chop or shred the cabbage and blend with carrot in a 2 quart mixing bowl.

To make dressing blend mayonnaise with vinegar, cumin and hot sauce in a small bowl.

Pour dressing over cabbage and carrot and mix well until cabbage and carrot is well coated.

Serve right away or chill for an hour or two.

Serves 6-8

Pico de Gallo

1 cup whole Sun Gold tomatoes

1 cup whole Sweet Million tomatoes

1 cup whole Juliet tomatoes, or roma tomatoes

1/2-3/4 cup yellow onion diced small

1 cup fresh cilantro

2 jalapeños chopped, or green bell pepper if you don’t want it spicy

1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon salt, optional

Cut Sun Golds and Sweet Million tomatoes in quarters, then cut in half. *

Dice Juliets or romas.

Chop cilantro.

Add everything together in a 2-3 quart mixing bowl tossing until distributed equally. Toss fairly gentle so you don’t break down the tomatoes too much.

As a salsa it serves about 6-8. For a taco topping this will tap about 30 tacos.


I like to cut the cherry tomatoes in quarters then lay them skin side down in a row of four pieces and cut in half.

An Alaska Fishing Tale


Almost every year since moving out of Alaska I have returned for a week or two in the summer to visit with friends and go fishing. This year was one of the few years when my crew of three, (wife, brother and sister) went somewhere other than the Kenai Peninsula. We decided a change in scenery would be good and the fishing better.


the home dock

the home dock at South Passage Outfitters

Fishing the Kenai River we have it good and easy. We stay at the same cabins or next door on most of our trips there in the last twelve years. It’s an easy walk to the river that takes one minute and the town of Soldotna is just five minute’s drive from the cabins when we need groceries or fishing gear. The fishing is usually good but in the last four years the once mighty runs of king salmon have diminished in a big way. Without the kings to fish for it has been easier to divert from our usual location.

a nice halibut

a nice halibut


This year we went way off the grid and picked a lodge in the Inside Passage area of Alaska. With the nearest town a thirty minute boat ride from the lodge we got away from it all. That is except for the numerous Humpback Whales, sea otters, seals, sea lions and seabirds too numerous to count. Fish Alaska magazine had spotlighted the area we were heading to in their May issue saying that it is hard to go fishless in the Gustavus area. While we were not in Gustavus our lodge was a mere hour away by boat and many of the fishing spots mentioned in the article were near our lodge. We figured on this being one of the best fishing trips ever.


The family that fishes together stays together.

The family that fishes together stays together.

On our first day we arrived around 11:30 in the morning and were eager to get started. As soon  our briefing was concluded we were shown the boat that would be ours for six days. I was to be our guide on this self-guided adventure in this new and exciting wilderness hotspot. Now all I had to do was find  fish in an area where there were no other fishing boats to lead us. Off we went in search of halibut that can get up to 900 pounds!


Waiting for a bite.

Waiting for a bite.

On our first try we were hampered by big tides that kept our anchor slipping and our bait floating up from the bottom a hundred yards off the back of the boat. Not a way to catch halibut. Digging into my memory of fishing in Seward I tried jigging in deeper water for the hidden halibut by Lemesuier Island two miles from our lodge. There I at least managed to get a bite that proved to be the one and only bite of the day. Going fishless the first day was not what I expected but I was undaunted as we headed back to the lodge for more information, dinner and some much needed rest. Our plane leaving Baltimore for an overnight stopover in Seattle was delayed five hours which left us with two hours rest in our hotel.  We  had hoped to get seven hours of sleep before the flight to Alaska the next morning. It’s tough being sharp after a four hour time change and two hours of sleep when running a boat in tricky Alaska waters.


Sea lion haul out spot.

Sea lion haul out spot.

The first full day dawned blue and sunny as my wife and I headed out just after dawn to catch halibut. I had seen a spot from the flight from our floatplane that I figured would yield halibut. We motored out for fifteen minutes on calm blue-green seas to this promising spot. All the way seeing Humpback Whales, and many otters for our wilderness entertainment. After anchoring up we didn’t have to wait but about fifteen minutes when my wife said, “I’m getting a bite”. I had just enough time to look at her rod tip before it went down hard. I quickly reeled up mine and grabbed her rod to fight this express train heading south and knew we had a big fish.

Me happily running a boat in Alaskan waters again.

Me happily running a boat in Alaskan waters again.


When I got it up to the boat we were both thrilled to see it was a nice eighty pounder and knew we were going home with plenty of fish on this trip. We caught four more, throwing two of the little ones back before heading to the lodge to get my sleepy siblings for the next fishing session. Over the next four days we caught over four hundred pounds of halibut, but released the biggest, a 170 pound monster, before finishing the week. We all came back with about forty-five pounds of halibut filets each.


a nice eighty pounder

a nice eighty pounder

The best parts of the trip other than the fishing were meeting and having meals with the other few guests at this lodge that takes on no more than eight guests per week. Seeing a big part of Alaska where we never had another boat closer than two miles from us except once was great too. The wildlife was fantastic! We got charmed by the calls of the baby sea otters squealing what sounded like a three year old human saying, “Mom”! over and over again as they begged for food and attention. Seeing and hearing the mighty Humpback Whales was exciting too, and we saw them every day. Curious seals would approach our boat while we were anchored up fishing halibut looking at us with their big brown eyes and comical whiskered faces from as little as twenty feet away.


Catching the Coonstriped shrimp.

My brother and I catching the Coonstriped shrimp.

The food was very good and while not fancy was delicious and plentiful. We ate king salmon, Coonstriped shrimp, and halibut all caught nearby. Peggy, one of the owners made several dishes I wanted to re-create when I got home including a cabbage slaw with Japanese rice wine vinegar, mayonnaise, and ground cumin that was excellent.  She also made a fresh pie made from blueberries picked in and around our cabins. There  was a hot bean dip with tortilla chips served just after we returned from hours of fishing one day that was delicious. I figured it was just canned refried beans with a little something added, but wanted to make my own creation when I got home, similar but better.


Since it’s hot in our area with the peak of summer upon us I love cooking in a slow cooker. My bean dip recipe is so easy it just takes five minutes to get it going and when done cooking just a few more minutes to mash the beans and top with cheese for a side dish or a dip. Using the mild Oaxaca dried chilies I bought from Melissa’s Produce the flavor is amazing. It has a rich smoky aroma that pairs wells with shredded Asiago cheese or medium sharp cheddar on top. To get these great dried Oaxaca chilies most of us need to order online, but it’s well worth it. Try this bean dip with a cool glass of sangria for a nice pairing.


In the near future I plan on cooking up some halibut tacos and serve these mashed beans on the side. With a freezer full of halibut I’ll post a new recipe or two in the coming weeks, I hope you give the beans a try and please share this tasty and healthy dish with family and friends.


Slow Cooker Bean Dip

2 1/2 cups dried pinto beans

6 cups water

3/4 cups diced yellow or white onions

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 dried Oaxaca chili peppers, or 2 tablespoons smoked paprika

1 t salt

Cook all ingredients in a slow cooker for 8 hours on low.

Strain liquid and reserve.

Mash beans with a potato masher, adding back some of the liquid until desired consistency is reached.

Serve with grated cheese on top.

Serves 8-12

Mash them up.

Mash them up.


This stores well in the fridge for up to a week. Just reheat in oven, stove top, or microwave adding a little water if needed.

You can mash all or half of the beans and use the remaining whole beans in chili or serve as a side dish.

To order Melissa’s Oaxaca peppers click on this link:


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Did you ever come home from work or a busy day and thought you didn’t have time to cook a healthy great tasting meal? Many of us have this problem, but there is a way to conquer that beast. You just need the recipes, basic supplies and support of this blog to get you through it. I have learned over the last twenty years how to create great, healthy meals in very little time. You don’t need to be a chef to make this work for you. I have done the hard work of developing a plan for you.
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