31 December 2006

Carnival of the Recipes

The latest edition of the Carnival of the Recipes is posted over at Booklore. This was my first ever carnival submission, and I plan to enter more during the 2007 calendar year. Go and check things out at the carnival. There are a number of good recipes for the chef in all of us.

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28 December 2006

Holiday Cookin'

Traditional Thanksgiving dinner - turkey, stuffing, mashed taters, and a veggie - is the meal that I could eat four to five times a week, if I had to. I love turkey - white meat, dark meat, legs - you name it. If I am in a restaurant and they have turkey dinner on the menu, I have a hard time choosing something else - especially a homestyle New York diner. Cooking turkey dinner, on the other hand, is a tough deal for a single guy. Cooking a turkey has a complexity level that exceeds heating up a can of soup or microwaving a bag of popcorn (my usual home cooking!) by a large margin. The holidays, though, bring out the best in me.

I had Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's home where I was one of 35 guests. While happy for the invitation, "seconds" to take home were not an option. Heck, I was lucky to get "firsts" - some of those people could eat! Ever since, I have been eager for some turkey dinner. Publix, apparently upon hearing of my want for turkey, had them on sale for 79 cents a pound last week. I picked up a small bird (less than 10 lbs.), and based on this Roguefood.com thread, I decided to make the stuffing the focus of the meal. Any good turkey dinner should be measured on the merits of the accompaniments, as well as the flavor and texture of the turkey, itself. Naturally, I tweaked the recipe to my own liking (soft pretzels were not an option, and the original recipe lacked traditional stuffing seasonings). The full recipe and photos of the adventure can be found after the break...


  • l box Snyder's broken sourdough hard pretzels
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Add ground pepper, rosemary, thyme, sage to taste
Saute onion & celery in butter until soft. Mix in pretzels & remaining ingredients. The original recipe calls for the mixture to be set overnight in the refrigerator. In this case, that was not an option, and the end result worked. I may try it next time - just to see what difference it makes.

Bake in casserole dish (I used 13X9 Pyrex) at 350 for about 25 minutes.

The stuffing (yeah, I know that if it is prepared in the stove, as opposed to in the bird, that it should be called "dressing" - I just don't care) turned out delicious. The pretzels definitely add a different flavor and texture compared to what most folks usually expect from traditional stuffing.

At this point, I was still pretty skeptical. We had some seasoned and sauteed onion and celery and some broken pretzels. But, things started to take shape....

I won't lie. There is a good reason that there is a box of Stove Top sitting on the counter. If this stuff turned out bad, I wasn't having dinner with no stuffing! There is a part of me that thinks that this is common sense and needs no mentioning, but....DO NOT ADD SALT. There is plenty on the pretzels. I didn't think that the final product was too salty, but I like Stove Top - and that stuff is loaded with salt.

No worries, though - it tasted as good as it looks! One of the truest stuffing tests is to see how it holds up the next day as leftovers, and I happily report that the flavor and texture didn't lose anything overnight in the fridge.

The ultimate plate of food - mashed Yukon Gold potatoes (five potatoes - almost one whole stick of butter - a ratio that should be set in stone), green beans, pretzel stuffing, and mixed light and dark turkey - all covered in homemade giblet gravy. I am pretty sure that THIS is what God created on the eighth day.

Never satisfied, though, I am thinking about making a sweet version of the pretzel stuffing. It works with bread stuffing, right? I think I can add apples, cinammon, and maybe raisins. If it happens, I will do a follow-up post.

**Welcome Carnival of the Recipes readers! If this is your first visit, you may want to stop by the Introduction page. That will give you a brief overview of what to expect to see elsewhere on this site. This is not a single-focus blog, so you will find posts here on more topics than just recipes and food. I do travel a lot for business, so I have quite a few posts (and pictures) of where I have been and the food I have discovered on the road.

I am glad you stopped by, and hope that you might poke back again sometime soon. The newest posts can be found by clicking on the "Home" tab at the top of the page.

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07 December 2006

RIP: Tony's Restaurant; Bridgetown, MO

I hate for this news tidbit to get buried in the comments section of a months-old post, but a commenter posted today that Tony's Restaurant, which lured me in with their "Missouri's Largest Omelet" sign is no more.

I have not been able to find a news article that substantiates the post (not that I am doubting, but I do like accountable sources). In the meantime, I am going to assume that the story is true and I will mourn this omelet (a true bargain at around 5 bucks!) and the pancakes, too.

UPDATE: I have been contacted by the owner of Tony's Restaurant's granddaughter, and she tells me that the fire was attributed to an electrical fault in the kitchen, not a grease fire as the original poster had mentioned. She also tells me that the restaurant will not reopen in its previous location, but that her father is planning on opening a place nearby sometime soon. So long as that omelette makes the transition to the new place, I am there.

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Live Long and....Prosper???

I would have to live an awfully long time to prosper from Prosper, that's for sure. At least, that's my take on the peer-to-peer lending service that seems to be all the talk in the personal finance blogosphere.

Lazy Man is all for it.
Scott is all for it, aslo.
It sounds like Mapgirl is wading into the shallow end of the lending pool.
~Dawn of Queercents gives the borrower's prospective.

I guess I am on the outside here, but my experience has not been that positive, and I don't know that I want to repeat it a few more times before I am sure. I wanted to start off with a relatively low amount of money, so I transferred $300 into my Prosper account. I authorized the transfer FROM my account on 11/15. It left my bank account on 11/16. It arrived, for use, in my Prosper account on 11/20. Since I initially didn't get the handle on standing orders, I ended up bidding (and subsequently winning) for the same auction twice - $100 and $75. I won another auction for $100, too. I now realize that with such a small amount of money to lend, I would have been better off with bidding on six $50 loans and spreading my risk, but there weren't many listings that met my lending criteria (higher credit grades with interest rates > 10-12%), so I figured I would do better to get my money lent out than to let it sit without earning interest.

I won both my $100 and $75 bids on the first loan on 11/21. This loan is still "pending review." Two-and-a-half weeks later, and Prosper is still verifying the loan? You would think that they would start the approval process when the request goes into the queue, or maybe when X% of the loan is funded. Still, two-and-a-half weeks seems like an awfully long time - even if this is supposed to help my money be more secure.

My other $100 loan was approved at 12.5% interest on 11/22. That loan was just completed on 12/5. I will receive my first payment of $3.73 on January 5 if all goes well. I figure it is going to take a lot of $3.73 monthly payments - and no defaults - for me to feel the least bit prosperous.

Right now, I suspect I won't be too bummed if my other $175 worth of loans don't ever fund. For a rate of return that is less than what the stock market will return this year, it seems like a lot of risk and a lengthy time with your money spent sitting idle. Actually, it is not sitting idle, exactly. Prosper is surely making money off of my money. Heck, you can guaranteed returns in a high-yield online savings account around 5%, so how much of an added risk factor should be counted on to yield enough to offset the difference between Federally guaranteed and high risk?

Tired but Happy does a pretty thorough job of discussing many of the things that I don't like about Prosper, but somehow manages to put a positive spin on it. Hmmm? Maybe I am just doing something wrong?

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