cubed Yukon potato fried in duck fat, cheddar cheese, beef gravy, che

The cubed potato is boiled first.

The duck fat comes from two ducks cooked earlier, its fat rendered and frozen. All the fat used to fry the potato is consumed.

The cheddar cheese is the best I've ever tasted.

Gravy made from seasoned roux and commercial beef stock. It has cumin, mushroom powder, and rosemary. 

This is dinner. And I'm perfectly satisfied

gyros salad, avocado, apple, cheddar

And cucumber and scallion. Olive oil, rice vinegar dressing.

Doesn't this look delicious? Well, it is! 

Tony's offered these small packages of gyros that I've not seen before. They make it themselves right there. Frozen. I nearly passed them up, but I selected the package with the thinnest slices and I cannot keep off of them. I've been nibbling them one by one like a rat, and it's the best that I've tasted. It's my new favorite thing.

steak salad

This is three thick slabs of the Baron of Beef roast from Tonys, fried, seasoned, and thinly sliced to strips, avocado, English cucumber, a single green onion, deep rich cheddar cheese.

The vinaigrette is rice vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, prepared mustard and clover honey.

Together they are quite something and better than any of the salads we had on the road which is very strange when you consider how simple this is. And that we were driving through America's bread basket. It's so easy to get salads right and yet everyone gives them the short shrift and blows it. My own mum took salads as perfunctory. My dad derided salads as rabbit food, and the only dressing they knew came in bottles so they bought all of them. Every salad dressing offered. Every dinner involved dragging out all the bottles of dressing all at once. So each of us kids had our own flavor. It was ridiculous, a state of affairs that endured my entire time at home.

Until I returned home. 

I said, "Mum, let me make the salad." Nobody got their choice of dressing as they were accustomed. That put them a bit off. Mum rejects mushrooms but she never ate one that didn't come out of a tin or a jar. I dolled up regular prepared and dressed dinner salads. The next dinner Mum copied the style. She was paying attention at how to be just a tiny bit creative if only by cutting things differently, irregularly, and using a variety of vegetables, mixing raw with blanched and with meat and cheese. I sat there amazed gazing at this marvel of Mum learning a new trick on her own, just copying. Before I could fashion a compliment without also reminding negatively about previous salads, she said. 

"Say, Bobby, how do like your salad? Huh?"

"I like it a lot. Very creative."

"You're rubbing off on me, Kid." 

My dad didn't notice a difference.

white beans

I look back at all those regular beans that I've eaten and silently ask the cooks collectively, "What were you thinking?" 

I sense they were all not thinking. Or they were thinking what's the least they can do with that #10 can of beans. I doubt they ever even looked for beans in a cookbook or else they'd know what's going on. You can make them taste like anything. You can include the regular enhancements. Tins of beans usually come with one sorry little piece of floppy bacon, you can pump up the jam by using a lot of fantastic and carefully prepared bacon. You can fry the bacon first in the same pot to render its fat throughout. You can add alcohol for its flavor, beer wine, anything, I used sake. But most importantly you can add something sour like vinegar and something sweet like honey. A recipe for Boston baked beans gives the idea and you can extrapolate from that how to poke out the profile. 

Hold off on tomatoes and brown sugar until the end if you use them. Also vinegar. Anything acid will change the pH and toughen the skins so they never turn soft without overnight baking, as Boston beans are. A recipe will call for molasses or brown sugar, salt pork, vinegar and tomato, and each of those elements can be improved greatly and treated more wisely than baking overnight. People think that it's salt that toughens up beans. No, it is acid. So don't put those elements in until the beans are already softened. 

Baked beans are a favorite side at Buckhorn Exchange. They've been asked so often for the recipe they went ahead and just published it on their lunch menu available online.

1 LB Great Northern beans
1/2 cup diced onion
3 oz diced ham
1 oz chicken base
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp Liquid Smoke
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp white pepper
1/2 gallon water
1 oz cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Bake slowly at low 200℉ (that's not boiling temperature, not even in Denver) for 8 hours. When beans are tender remove from oven to stovetop and bring to a boil, mix cornstarch and 1/2 cup water to thicken. Let simmer 15 minutes.

That's just crazy. Who's got that kind of time. You can do this whole thing from hard dried beans in 20 minutes by pressure cooker. They didn't say anything about soaking the beans. I suppose that's part of the 8 hours low heat baking. 

They thicken with cornstarch instead of smashing a few beans to do the same thing. While soup doesn't have to be thick. 

And this is the part that just kills me. Buckhorn Exchange is all about various somewhat bizarre meats. They cook pheasant every night. Duck too. If Buckhorn Exchange doesn't have bones for broth then nobody does. And they use a commercial ersatz liquid smoke when smoke is literally pouring out of their building every night filling the entire neighborhood with the smell of roasting meat. 

Come on!

See, their beans really are utterly delicious. And yet, they can be even better.

They use dehydrated garlic that restaurants rely on instead of fresh garlic. There is no acid component, no tomato, and there is nothing sweet, no molasses, no brown sugar, no honey. 

I wish I had made crackers. I'm showing an egg but I also added tomatoes. I still have some beans left and I'll add cheese to that. 

croque madame

That's French for toasted cheese sandwich.

It's the same thing as croque monsieur except with an egg on it so in France the women get more. Or maybe the egg feminizes it on account of eggs being female things.

On children's menus in America the bread should be cut with a cookie cutter into the shape of a crocodile and spelled croc enfant.

I just made that up.

Rory's Tavern, Denver

This location was the long-time Club 404, then sold to become Brendon's, sold again to become Rory's Tavern.

The old place was shot. My brother and I laughed at recalling our father remarking, "Boy, this place sure is nice." We died laughing at the time because it was actually a dump. Dad couldn't see the floor under foot needed to be vacuumed, the booths were torn and irregular, and he hadn't ventured into the bathroom.

The waitresses then were characters, all long-time employees. James recalled our favorite waitress's name, Nonnie. She told us on night their 30 gallon aquarium once held a catfish that was quite old, ten years or so, then the very night that Club 404 added fried catfish to the menu it died.

It's a nice place remodled. Reasonable prices. James and I went in for their prime rib. We'll definitely go back. The place is still one of our favorites. The boys had hamburger and fries. I think Alona had a salad. I forget. We were all pleased with what we were served. I didn't think to photograph the food. I was meeting my two nephews for the first time. There are glimpses of food on the plates.

sourdough loaf

The starter sponge was left in the refrigerator waaaaay longer than it should have. I left on a trip for five days and the starter sponge was already well beyond its fermentation period. So it is very strong. Over fermented. 

That was mixed with aprox. 2/3 more fresh dough. So, diluted considerably. I haven't tasted it yet but it should be rather mild but still stronger than what you would buy commercially. 

I'm very pleased with this loaf. It was made carelessly as can be. I added two cups of water with four cups of scooped flour unsifted and all of the starter sponge with a tablespoon of flake salt and let it go in the mixing machine. It was was plopped onto the work surface and covered with a plastic storage container. Then stretched in all directions and folded in fourths. That's it. 

A large chunk was cut off, about 1/3, and returned to the bowl to proof in the refrigerator. 

The thing is, I don't eat that much bread. I'll only want a few slices. And then the starter/sponge will be ready to inoculate another batch. 

This works just as well, just as fast as commercial dry yeast. It's fun to play with. But I dislike being stuck to its timing. The starter/sponge will be ready before I am so it will overproof too.

Using combined fresh dough this way allows for a thinner crust that stretches as skin. All sourdough with no fresh dough produces very thick crust with nonelastic skin. 

Asian beef soup

In the style of Ramen however my noodles are anything but. The noodles are fashioned from dry black beans turned to powder and half all purpose flour and water and that's it. Except for cayenne and salt. Less beans would be better. These are too tender. They tend to break easily and if cooked for more than a few minutes they turn into mush.

Baron of beef means nothing to me. I'd rather they state the cut so I know what I'm getting. 

Let's see what the internet says.
Baron of Beef is a British term and in the U.S. the designation has come to be synonymous with any cut of beef that it well suited to roasting or braising such as top round, inside round, bottom round or the steamship round.
See what I mean?

The noodles are added after all the beef is cooked in the hot broth piece by piece so the broth is infused with its fat and its flavor.

This is kombu dashi with bonito flakes, seafood broth, actually. That's like seaweed and dried fish tea. It's flavor is rounded considerably to become something else entirely. It tastes nothing like seafood broth.

* 2 Tbs soy sauce
* 2 Tbs honey
* 2 Tbs sake
* 1 Tbs fish sauce
* 1/2 Tbs toasted sesame seed oil
1 Tbs Angostura bitters
1 Tbs Orange Angostura bitters

The broth is fantastic by itself.

This soup was inspired by YouTube video uploaded by BuzzFeedVideo, their "worth it" series, an episode comparing Ramen in Tokyo.

ham, cheese, apple.

Say what you will, this is the real food that I craved.

This is the food that will get my body back. 

My younger brother just drove his family and me halfway across Colorado and all the way through Nebraska to the edge of Iowa for a wedding. He could have flown his family all the way there from California but instead he flew here to Denver to drive me to Iowa. I don't fly. Our niece was married.

And we drove through the very breadbasket of America, its gorgeous mathematic rows of corn and gigantic bank silos, its tractors that pull eighty foot implements, its combines big as houses and impressive monstrous farm equipment. The science of American farming is truly impressive. And yet, on the road back and forth we can not get a decent real meal that was not industrialized to the maximum. The truck stops are loaded with appealing food and none of it is healthful. Its depressing. And everyone, and I mean everyone is fat. Skinny people are unknown. How to explain this tragic dichotomy? It would take too long.

Enter [salad, north platte ne] in your browser and see what you get.

The tomatoes are refrigerated, the lettuce is pre-cut, put out, then returned to the refrigerator, the dressings are malevolent. If you ask for oil and vinegar you'll get insipid vegetable oil and 3rd rate vinegar. People just do not understand fresh vegetable salad or dressings. And that makes me sad.

Finally home, nearby Tony's to my rescue. All I want is simple real food. 

Would you like to see a post on the wedding and reception? I posted a story with photographs here.

These are small apples. Tiny, actually. They are intense with flavor.

The cheese is white cheddar aged nine months.

The ham is Tony's apple cured. 

The three together are astoundingly satisfying following two days of road food and restaurants.

The hotel staff was bragging about their breakfast omelets. This was a beautiful hotel. My room was luxurious. Two queen size beds for one skinny person. A very nice place in Red Oak, Iowa. 

I visualized a crap omelet. But I did not visualize one so crappy as they serve.

I should have known, and I did know, but I simply could not imagine anything so bad.

They were whipped egg to fluff and cooked in a pan that folds them in half with industrialized cheese for filling. So small it takes three to make one regular omelet. 

When I went down to the breakfast room I asked the attendant, "Who is the omelet maker?" She answered, "Oh. We don't have one. We buy them."


There in the heart of America where food comes from we are served commercialized industrialized mechanized food.

And everyone there loved them. They all think the omelets are perfect.

I was deflated. 

I told my brother this always happens even when the place has an assigned omelet making person. An expert. None of them make omelets good as I do. They just don't. In each case, and this is universal, I should be the assigned omelet maker and their omelet situation would be instantly improved. 

No brag. 

Just fact. 

I've been doing this for ten years. Check it out. Enter "omelet" in the search box up there ↖︎ and see what you get. You'll get more omelets than you care to look at, each one of them different.

buffalo prime rib, Buckhorn Exchange

This cost a million dollars. 

Possibly $43.00. I don't know. I didn't pay for it. My brother did. It was worth a million dollars to me so that's what I said.

This is what I saw from where I sat at Buckhorn Exchange, Denver.

Golden eagle. 
Looks like a crow from underneath, hanging like that from the ceiling.

I have to admit it's macabre. This is the stuff that nightmares are made. And so close to Halloween. Honestly, sitting there eating a steak from one of these animals is enough to turn one vegetarian. I can see how that happens.

It was Alona's desire to come here again. I think part of that might have been to show her two boys. We spent a long weekend together spanning Thursday to Monday and we ate at a lot of places and this one was best.

And we knew the whole thing came to a beautiful and peaceful soft landing, a very long car trip back and forth through Nebraska, and several tiring activities, including a wedding, when to the left of me in the restaurant booth and to the right of me, my dinner buddies, two little boys stretched out their bodies and slept.

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