Monday, August 29, 2011

Ninja Rodeo Clown

I wanted to share this video I took (sorry with my IPhone, so it isn't 1080) last weekend while at a rodeo with my brother and sister-in-law. So there are multiple reasons to have a rodeo clown(s) at a rodeo...first and foremost their job is to protect the cowboy in the bull riding. They are willing to throw themselves in front of a 2,000 pound bull to help free a cowboy that has his hand stuck in his riding riggin or who has fallen under the bull on his dismount. That is their job and that is what they do, but it is dangerous and many of them do get injured sometimes badly.

But then their is the lighter side of rodeo clowns and they are known more as the funny men...funny men do the acts in between rodeo events to entertain the crowd while they are getting the calves loaded into the chute for the calf roping or horses ready for the saddle bronc riding. The funny men are known to harass the crowd, blow up things (that make loud noises and scare the horses, and a lot of the people in the stands), but are very good to entertain the crowd especially the youngsters.

Anyway here is a video of the funny man from the rodeo last weekend doing a ninja routine that was pretty darn impressive. If you are looking for another example of a great funny man look up Flint Rasmussen, last time I saw him was in Cheyenne a few years back...VERY FUNNY! The Pioneer Woman blogged about him just a couple weeks ago when she saw him at a PBR in OKC.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mother Nature is Mad

Th above downed corn can be picked up by
a corn reel...there have been a lot of these sold in the
past few years and I am sure more this year.
So there are a lot of things that you can't prevent and the weather is one of them...Mother Nature is just plumb pissed off now...nothing we can do about it, just happens. For those of you not in NWMO, particularly Atchison, Holt and Nodaway counties you may not be aware of a couple of storms that came through last Thursday (80-100 MPH straight line winds with hail) and pre-dawn Monday morning (flash-flood induced rain and lots of hail).

My family was lucky to not get hit as bad as some did on either storm. Thursday we had some corn laid down and my dad at that point ordered a reel similar to this one because it will help pick up the downed corn and feed it into the the feeder house of the combine corn head (the front part of the combine with the pointy things sticking out). Here is where I got the picture and a good description of what a corn reel can help a farmer with.

Monday morning however we had some fields that did not fare so well near my brother's house. The corn field, hopefully we can harvest in a week or so after it has had a chance to dry down a little. The soybeans are most likely a total loss. There are a few things to be thankful, just like people have their cars or homes insured farmers have their crops insured. Since it is so hard to determine what the value of the crop would have been we won't get all the money we probably would have gotten, but it is better than a complete loss which would be completely devastating to a farmer. We are also thankful that we only had a small portion of our crops affected compared to other family friends who are looking at up to 95% of their acres affected. And most important we are thankful everyone is safe.

The photos below were taken by me (the good crop photos) and dad took the others today with his cell phone. The good crop vs. damaged crops are in different fields but they are all less than two miles apart so both affected similarly
Corn field in south west Nodaway County, 8/22/11

Corn field 7/28/11, different field but they all
looked the same up here before the storms

Soybean field 8/22/ loss

Different soybean field 8/16/11

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook

The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook is my inspiration this week…I purchased this cookbook from the Maker’s Mark distillery back in January. I was driving from Cincinnati to Nashville and decided I needed a relaxing pit stop so wound my way through the backcountry of Kentucky and found the distillery. If you are ever in Kentucky and you enjoy bourbon I suggest you take time for the Bourbon Trail distillery stops, you can get a passport and get a stamp at each of the six distilleries. Unfortunately I was in a rush that day, and didn’t get to complete the tour but have friends who have and really enjoyed it so I plan to complete it someday.

Now a lot of people might confuse whiskey and bourbon or put them in the same category because I did before I went on this tour. The Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide defines the differences as Whiskeys are distilled from a fermented mash of grain (usually corn, rye, barley or wheat) and then aged in oak barrels; Bourbon Whiskey is distilled from a mash of grain containing not less than 51% corn and is normally aged for four years in new charcoal oak barrels. The folks at Whiskey Chat state that the differences in taste are slight but it is a pride thing that bourbon drinkers like bourbon because it is bourbon, same for whiskey. My theory is whatever, drink what you like and if you don’t like it don’t drink it, but that may not be so easy if you are from Bourbon County, KY. In honor of where I purchased the book from I'm using Maker's Mark throughout all these recipes.

This cookbook that I am cooking from today has soooooo many recipes I want to try and probably will but for this particular meal the menu is as follows (sorry for the long titles, I obviously did not name t
he recipes or edit the book):
    The inspiration book with a rack of ribs, salad and biscuit!
  • Chef Virginia Willis’s Baby Back Ribs with Kentucky Bourbon Mustard Sauce
  • Kentucky Bibb Salad with a Sweet Kentucky Bourbon Vinaigrette, Crumbled Goat Cheese, and Toasted Pecans
  • Angel’s Share Biscuits
  • Kentucky Bourbon Double Chocolate Cheesecake

Chef Virginia Willis’s Baby Back Ribs with Kentucky Bourbon Mustard Sauce – This recipe makes a lot of sauce, so if you like it bottle it up, another suggestion is if you don’t like chunks of onion in your sauce to throw all of it in the blender after it simmers for an hour and pulse it down and reheat and simmer a little longer.

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
8 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 1/2 cups Dijon mustard
1 cup water
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup apple juice
1 1/2 cups bourbon
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 racks baby back pork ribs
When I was cooking the BBQ sauce a C
appeared maybe it is a sign?

Heat oil in a heavy pot over medium heat, and when shimmery, add the onions and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, another minute or so. Add the brown sugar, ketchup, mustard, water, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, apple juice and bourbon. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Taste, and season with salt and pepper.

Heat grill to medium, or heat oven to 325 degrees. Season ribs well on both sides with salt and pepper, place on a broiler pan and cook in oven, or directly on the grill, until meat is tender, 1 hour or more, turning occasionally. When meat is fork tender, remove from oven or grill. Heat broiler to high, or turn grill to high.

Ribs on the grill...

Measure out about 1 cup of the sauce. Brush liberally on the ribs, and broil or grill on high until surface is crisped and brown, brushing on more sauce each time you turn the ribs. Serve with the remaining sauce on the side. Serves 6.

Kentucky Bibb Salad with a Sweet Kentucky Bourbon Vinaigrette, Crumbled Goat Cheese, and Toasted Pecans – This vinaigrette is awesome, I will be putting it on other salads for sure but the goat cheese really helps cut the sweetness of the dressing. I suggest you don’t use a spicy BBQ sauce if you don’t want extra kick from the sauce and the brown mustard.

1 cup pecan halves
3 heads Bibb lettuce, washed and dried
2 large tomatoes, sliced in half-moons
12 grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 pound fresh goat cheese, sliced into 4 disks
1 red onion, peeled and diced

Sweet bourbon vinaigrette
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons bourbon
1/4 cup brown mustard
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce, I used Gates Original BBQ Sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic chili sauce (available in Asian food departments of groceries), I used chili sauce and added a clove of crushed garlic

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet, and toast in the hot oven about 5 minutes, shaking once or twice during the toasting. Be careful not to let them burn. Remove and cool. Compose the salad on four salad plates, arranging the Bibb lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes, goat cheese, onion and pecans attractively. In a bowl, whisk together vigorously the vinegar, bourbon, mustard, honey, barbecue sauce, pepper and chili sauce. Dress the salad lightly with vinaigrette.

Angel’s Share Biscuits – While bourbon is aging some of the alcohol is evaporated through the barrels, this is what distillers call the ‘angel’s’ share. These are great and you can really catch the alcohol in the biscuits but I would suggest adding butter…maybe even a honey butter…sheesh why didn’t I think of that before we ate them? Good thing there are left overs!

1/2 cup warm water
3 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. yeast
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup bourbon

Cooking the biscuits on my stone...

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Mix the warm water and honey together and dissolve the yeast in the water-honey mixture. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and shortening and mix with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles fine cornmeal. Mix the buttermilk and bourbon with the yeast mixture; add these ingredients to the flour mixture. Combine lightly until the ingredients are just mixed together. Grease a baking pan and drop mounds of dough onto it. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 2 dozen.

Kentucky Bourbon Double Chocolate Cheesecake – OHMYGOODNESS…this was absolutely amazing. Honestly though I don’t think that the brownie layer was needed. Mine fell in the middle, I guess I put too much batter on the outside, but it just was pretty dense and good, but I could have done with just the cheesecake part and the ganache.

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
24 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 TBS KY bourbon
¼ tsp Grand Marnier
4 eggs
1 pinch salt

Fudge Brownie Mixture:
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
½ cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp Grand Marnier
½ cup flour
¼ cup chopped pecans (optional, I didn’t use these because I don’t like nuts in desserts)
1 pinch salt

Chocolate Ganache:
1 ½ cups milk chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 TBS Kentucky Bourbon
1 TBS light corn syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Apply nonstick spray to a 9-inch springform pan.

At this point we were so excited to eat the cheesecake, I
just slapped the chocolate ganache on slice...sorry it isn't

To make the cheesecake: In a double broiler, melt the chocolate chips with the cream; mix until smooth and reserve. Whip the cream cheese, sugar, bourbon and Grand Marnier in an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs and salt and blend well. Add the melted chocolate mixture and blend thoroughly. Pour the cheesecake batter into the springform pan. Bake for 15 minutes; reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes.

To make the fudge brownie mixture: While the cheesecake is baking, melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Stir until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs, sugar, and the Grand Marnier, and blend thoroughly. Add the flour, pecans and salt and blend well. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and carefully spoon on the brownie mixture (start at the edges and work toward the center). Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Remove cheesecake from the oven and cool completely. Then refrigerate until it is completely cold.

To make the chocolate ganache: While the cheesecake is cooling, combine the chocolate chips and cream in a double boiler and melt them, stirring to mix. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it rest for a couple of minutes to all for slight cooling. When the mixture I blended, smooth, and slightly cool, add the bourbon and corn syrup, stirring constantly. Then let it stand at room temperature for a couple of minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator and place it on a wire rack. Pour the ganache over the cheesecake and allow it to set. Serve it after the ganache dries.

Our dinner table set...we paired the meal with a Monkey Bay Sauvigonon Blanc from the Marlbrough region of New Zealand.
Here are the quotes from the dinner tonight, my dear friend Sara was in town…she has some work meetings in KC this week so she came in early to go to the FarmAid concert with us Saturday night and today we turned a lazy Sunday into a day of enjoying the weather and catching up on some retail therapy...for the two of us a Sunday without somewhere to go or be or work to do, especially in August, is a rare occasion so we took advantage of it!

Sara: Oh, the salad was excellent, tangy and refreshing, the pecans and the goat cheese along with the vinaigrette was such an excellent combo. The little biscuits were really good too and could easily be altered with a cheese or drizzled with honey on top. [The ribs] were cooked to perfection, I preferred them without the sauce. The cheesecake was awesome, but brownie was not needed, highly recommend with a dark chocolate ganache and paired well with our wine, but would be great with a red wine too. The Grand Mariner in the cheesecake was slightly detectable and was great with the chocolate. I would say make the salad and cheesecake again!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

BL Fried Green T

As I was in the store this week, I ran across a beautiful display of tomatoes. Now to me the sole purpose of a tomato is for salsa/guacamole, but on occasion, especially in the summer I just want to eat them on everything. The tomato display had a variety of locally grown produce from Schweizer's Orchard whom I blogged about earlier this week. In the display they had green tomatoes, which you can't find very often and I jumped on the chance to make fried green tomatoes and add it to a BLT.

I learned from a Food Network program (not that I remember the show, but I know it was on there) that when selecting tomatoes for fried green tomatoes you need to make sure they have a slight amount of pink to them. They will cook up a little quicker and since they have started to slightly ripen they are less acidic.

I have made fried green tomatoes a variety of ways and learned the best way is the simple way. I like to start my dredging with bisquick because it has a little more flavoring to it than flour. I also used a cast iron skillet because well it is awesome, and I asked for it for Christmas one year, and my mom got it for me...I use it a lot!

Fried Green Tomatoes

tomatoes (use as many or few as you like)
bisquick or flour
buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk then you could use milk or a milk/egg combo, your choice, but I recommend buttermilk)
Panko (the Japanese breadcrumbs make it crispy...I don't recommend a substitute)
Oil, salt, pepper

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet enough to cover the bottom. Set up your dredging station a plate with bisquick, with a bowl of buttermilk followed by a plate of Panko. Generously season your tomatoes before starting the dredging station. Season buttermilk and Panko. Dip both sides of the tomatoes in bisquick, then in buttermilk then in Panko...use your hands and press Panko into the tomatoes to ensure they are covered. Turn heat on pan down to medium low and add tomatoes to the pan...cook 2-3 minutes on each side watching closely to make sure they don't burn. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel.

You can eat them straight with a nice grilled pork chop, add them to a burger or do what I did and build a BL fried T sandwich. It was filling and summery and awesome.
Cast iron skillet time! I used Instagram to edit this...follow me at travelingcowgirl.
Doesn't this look like heaven? Fresh baked bread (from HyVee), low sodium bacon, butter lettuce and fried green tomatoes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Grilled Peaches

When I think summer I think ice cream...but knowing that I cannot have ice cream all the time I opt for fat-free sherbet, but tonight was a special night...I ate pretty healthy today, plus worked out so thought I deserved a treat for dinner. I had some peaches that needed to be eaten so I decided to make a grilled peach and top it with some low fat ice cream. Since I had never grilled a peach before I did google some recipes, but they all varied so I did a combination of the ones I liked the best. Some people put more savory items with them like basil, but I kept mine very true to the peach...and since I'm in a new obsession with honey, I had to add some of that along with some brown sugar that gave the peach a very caramelized look and taste.

Grilled Peaches
1 peach per two servings
brown sugar
honey (preferably local...that will come up in another post soon)
ice cream or whipped cream (I used 1/2 fat vanilla but you could use whatever you wanted)

Wash the peach, cut in half and remove the pit. Sprinkle a small amount of brown sugar on the peach halves and then drizzle the honey over the top. Let the peach halves sit for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the brown sugar and honey to soak into the peach. Lightly oil a hot grill (or grill pan if you don't want to fire up the grill) and put the peaches cut side down...grill for 2-3 minutes or until caramelized and flip, grill another 2-3 minutes until warm and soft through. Add to a bowl then top with ice cream or whipped cream and serve immediately.

It was perfect for a nice summer night and great to share with friends!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Do you know where your food comes from?

Poster in the HyVee off Barry Road in KC.
Today I was shopping at my local HyVee (sorry for those of you who don't have one of these, they are awesome and I missed them dearly when I lived in Chicago) and something in the produce section caught my eye…it was a poster that had a name I was familiar with from home…Schweizers Orchards. There is a great photo of the family with some of their equipment in the background and a little explanation about family farms providing food for store. [complete with a QR code for instant learning about them]

I think that this is a great tool for HyVee to implement because they are creating a connection between a family farming operation raising the food that customers are buying for their families. If you are in the NWMO area, or in north KC even…you should check out Schweizers Orchards and all they have to offer.

Grilled cured pork chops, grilled corn, smoked paprika/dill butter and green tomato caprese salad.
Here is a shot of the yummy dinner I made with the great fresh produce that I picked up today. A fresh heirloom tomato and mozzarella caprese salad with basil from my own herb garden, grilled corn on the cob with smoked paprika and dill butter and grilled cured pork chops. The pork chops are from Kurzweils Country Meats, check out this post I did back in 2009 about their operation.

Here is how I grill my corn…
  1. Pull back the husks (but don’t remove) and remove the silks, then replace the husks back over the ear. 
  2. Soak the ears in water for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Place the ears on a hot grill, grilling for 5-10 minutes (depending on the temperature of the grill) per side. Keep an eye on them, if the husks get dry they can catch on fire.
  4. While they are cooking soften some butter and season with dill and smoked paprika.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Bacon Explosion ala Angie

So have all heard of the Bacon Explosion...aka grilled heart attack? I remember seeing it on the talk shows a few years back and thinking that is interesting but just never made one. Well that has been changed. For a surprise 30th birthday party this past weekend, Angie and I whipped one up...well to be honest, Angie did the work and I chronicled it with my IPhone. Then when we got to the lake, because Angie and I were enjoying the water Jason grilled it for us. Let's say that it was amazing and everyone is waiting for us to make another...

A little history on the Bacon Explosion. It was created by a group called the BBQ Addicts and they are out of none other than Kansas City. Because where else would people think to combine bacon, sausage, bbq spice, sauce and a grill? There is a tutorial on their website linked above on how to make the Bacon Explosion or you can also order one directly from them. Here is step-by-step what we did, now we modified the recipe a little and I think it is one you can make it your own...if you don't like Italian Sausage you could use a mixture of breakfast sausage and ground pork or even hamburger and ground pork.

Introducing Angie, the true maker, I'm just the photo lady...weaving bacon!

Bacon weave covered in Gates Grill Seasoning...
Spreading the sausage/ground pork mixture

We added cheese, because that is what we do...Angie decided a tomahawk chop was the appropriate way to incorporate.

Adding crumbled bacon on top

Smothering with seasoning and Oklahoma Joe's BBQ sauce, we are supporting multiple KC BBQ shops

More seasoning

Time to roll...starting at one end she just rolled the ground mixture and cooked bacon up leaving the weave down.

More rollin...

Using the plastic wrap, putting the bacon weave around the mixture


We can't take grilling credit...but it was grilled for about 2.5 hours on 200 or so degrees and it was delish! Sorry about the lighting, I wasn't worried about it after being on the lake all day and hungry!!!
The tutorial online is very descriptive. We plan on making another one, probably for Homecoming...good news to everyone who tailgates with us, stop on by in October if you are interested in trying it...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ag Fact of the Week

With wheat harvest wrapping up across the country I wanted to talk a little about wheat...wheat yields across the country varied due to extreme drought, wet weather or heat. But regardless compared to 1950 we are producing 69% more wheat on 6% fewer acres.

Here is a great video that is on YouTube right now regarding a custom cutting is like Deadliest Catch for wheat harvest. Custom cutting crews have multiple combines, gravity wagons and people who start in Texas and work their way north cutting wheat until they get to Canada.

Source: USDA/NAS
1950 – 1 billion bushels on 62 million acres (17 bushels/acre)

2009 – 2.2 billion bushels on 50 million acres (44 bushels/acre)

Monday, August 1, 2011


I spent a little time in NOLA last little time I mean a quick 48 hours, but I was able to eat my way through the town and boy did we have some great food. If you are ever headed that way and looking for a few places to grab lunch or dinner, consider these places.

Fried oyster salad
The Palace Cafe was directly beside our Marriott hotel on Canal Street. We ran over there for a quick lunch and had a great soup of the day starter with crayfish and mushrooms. I had a fried oyster salad and Susan had an Andouille Crusted Fish and we shared a piece of the cheesecake as our reward for an early flight that morning!

Crusted fish

For dinner that night we went to Mr. B's Bistro which is about 2 blocks from the Marriott. Mr. B's reminds me of a Chicago style steakhouse because it was dark and intimate. We had a big group at the table and everyone had something unique and different, but this was my first bowl of NOLA gumbo and it was awesome. My entree was the fried soft shell crab and where it was good, there was an oil at the bottom of the bowl that made it unappetizing so if you are craving soft shell crab then ask for no oil.

Gumbo at Mr. B's

For lunch the next day we went to Deanie's Seafood to grab some lunch and they greeted us with a bowl of red potatoes boiled in Creole seasoning. I continued my gumbo sampling...this gumbo was good with a lot of crab, so I continued the crab obsession from there with a crab duo that was awesome...Crab Dressing Balls are amazing!
Deanie's Gumbo

Crab Sampler
For my final meal in NOLA, I went and had a good ol' steak...yes I know I was near the sea...but I was in need of red meat. We dined at Dickie Brennans Steakhouse and allowed the waiter to select our menu. We had the McIlhenny Oysters, Crabcakes, and the Fillet with asparagus on the side. AMAZING. Plus we ate in the bar and the staff and bartender were super nice!

Not to be trumped by the awesome food, we also got a great tip from our wonderful carriage driver (highly suggest going to Jackson Square and taking a carriage ride through the French Quarter, especially after dark!) that Pat O'Brien's Hurricanes will give you a headache, you need to get Hurricanes from Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. It is a little off the beaten path, but with no lights only candle light to illuminate the bar, it was a cool experience and the Hurricanes were awesome.
A happy girl on a carriage with her Hurricane!