Tales from the Wandering Cook

Started by echoes, July 29, 2022, 02:06:55 PM

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Was going to try and make Sunday/Monday my regular writing days but I have my son down for his Birthday and I don't plan on being on much. When I get back next week I will be sharing a shrimp recipe and a review of Basil Hayden's Dark Rye Bourbon. The Bourbon will the more exciting of the two.





Been a week since I last  posted and here I am, on time, and posting tonight. Said I was going to talk about a Bourbon and I intend to do just that tonight.

Basil Hayden's part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Bourbon family and we will get to the Bourbon after we do a little history and splaining of what Bourbon is. As any good story goes, the origination of the name and where it was first used is a point of contention. One myth says it started in Bourbon County Kentucky, another on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. It has been made since the late 18th century and is most often associated with the State of Kentucky. Alcohols, if you didn't know, wax and wan at various times throughout their lives. Not to long ago there was a Tequila craze and before that it was Vodka; now it is currently Bourbon's heyday.

For an alcohol, specifically whiskey, to be called a Bourbon it must have a "mash" (Mash is a composition of  "cereal grains such as rye, barley, wheat or corn that is fermented) made up of no less that 51% Corn along with other grains. Most mashes take some of their components from from a previous batch's mash for consistency of flavor. In Addition to the mash requirements the liquor must be aged in new charred oak containers ( barrels.) The aging process is what gives Bourbon its distinctive coloring as it draws from the carmelized charred wood. There are several steps that go in the aging process, along with some science and some stories but I am not going into all that now. What I will say is that the Bourbon in the barrels gets, opened, diluted down to 80 Proof ( 40% alcohol by volume) and the gets bottled. When I said that Basil Hayden's is a Small Batch Bourbon that only means that fewer barrels were opened and mixed to produce this batch.

Basil Hayden's as mentioned before is from the Jim Beam/Suntory family of spirits. Jim Beam has a variety of lines including:

Basil Hayden
Knob Creek

Where Jim Beam is, like Basil Hayden, a 80 Proof/ 40% ABV beverage Booker's clocks in at 120-130/60-65%, Baker's at 107/53.5% and Knob Creek at 100/50% or 120/60%. Also owned by Beam Suntory is Beam's Sister brand, Maker's Mark, which comes in at 90/45%.

So, Basil Hayden's Dark Rye and what to expect. Do not expect that punch in the mouth burn that a lot of Bourbon's, especially the higher proofed drinks, give. You the first thing you will notice is that it is sweet, sweeter that you were really ready for. It is a smooth drink that doesn't linger until it is unwanted. There are nuances that I cannot explain because I lost some of my sense of smell and tastes yeeeeeears ago as part of a birthday present. A review by "Breaking Bourbon uses words like Strawberry Jam, Cherries, cherries, currants, and more cherries while saying it is very wine/port forward.  It's not "yeasty/bready" like some bourbons can get, there is something more simple but it is not peaty or earthy like scotch. In fact, that same review mentioned that it is complex enough that the sweet turns to savory and does not linger into dryness.

This is a bourbon you can sip at room temperature or you can fully enjoy it on a cube or two of ice. Don't go ham on the ice, to diluted wastes the enjoyment of the next sip. This is outstanding for making something like an old fashioned but it would be lost in a bourbon spritz. The Dark Rye is supposed to be aged for around 8 years and it has that mid level maturity that a well purposed bourbon should have. It won't break your budget if you have to get one for a party. It also isn't some rot gut no one would dare try. This is a good bourbon to wet the appetite before a main course.

Imma take one more pull of this and then go finish some laundry.

Cheers all,



This will be short because I am a bit distracted. But first, a moment of clarity.

There was a Tom Hanks produced series that gained some fame a few year back called, "Band of Brothers." For those who do not know, this was the story of Easy Company, 506th Regiment , 101st Airborne Division; yes, its a war series. The original book, and subsequent series, starts with Easy company training at Camp Taccoa and it introduces the reader/viewer to the primary characters of the story. During a scene where Easy company is performing a night march the following conversation takes place:

Setting Night march, full company with all men carrying full gear at Camp Taccoa which is located in the state of Georgia.

Private Randleman : "Lieutenant Winters?"

Lieutenant Winters: "What is it?"

Pvt. Randleman : "Permission to speak, Sir?"

Lt. Winters : "Permission granted."

Pvt. Randleman : "Sir, we got nine Companies, Sir.

Lt. Winters: "We do."

Pvt Randleman : "Why come we're the only Company marching Every Friday night, twelve miles with full pack in the pitch dark?"

Lt. Winters : "Why do you think Private Randleman?"

Pvt. Randleman : "Lieutenant Sobel hates us sir."  (For clarification, Lt. Sobel was the senior Lt and the commander of Easy Company during training.)

Lt Winters: *After a pause* "Lieutenant Sobel does not hate easy company" * Another pause* "He just hates you"

The nearby soldiers all start lightly laughing.

Pvt. Randelman : 'Sir, yes Sir."

This is me right now, the world doesn't hate everyone else, just me. I think I have an infection around a tooth that needs a root canal. This just started over the weekend and the pain radiating from my jaw has given me a headache while at work.  With that, I am going to medicate and try to get better. I can't get seen by a dentist until next Thursday but luckily the GF had some left over antibiotics that I am going to start on. She is going to try and persuade our dentist, who she is seeing tomorrow, to send me an official script in so I can get the swelling down. Before you worry, she is a nurse and I am not going to do them all at once. When I feel better I will try and be more creative with a post.




Sorry about the earlier lack of solid post regarding food. I'm going to try and make up for that right now with something for the parents here on Elliquiy, though anyone can rock this simple recipe

Open Faced Pepperoni Grinders

First, a Grinder is typically defined as a "hot" sandwich usually with: meatballs, pepperoni, sausage or several of what you might call "Italian" meats. This is something you can rock from start to finish in 20 minutes with minimal prep and clean up and it is also great on a budget.

Ingredients ( with Prices in American Dollars)

1 - 6 pack Torta Buns $4.00
1 - Deli Sliced pepperoni ( prepackages usually has enough slices but you need a total of 24 slices and if they slice the pepperoni on a 1-1.5 that is about 1/2 a pound) $5.00
1 - 24oz jar marinara or Meat sauce - $2.00
1 - 1# Shredded Mozzarella $2.50 ( thought you can add more if you like a lot of Cheese )
Granulated Garlic ( Should already have this in the spice drawer but if not a small bottle for $2.00

Parmesan Cheese

Ok, so the above is right around $15.00 and you can easily feed 6 people, or less than $2.50 a person.


Oven on bake at 350 degrees.

Get a half sheet tray out and line with parchment paper.

Wash hands.

Open the Torta rolls and split each one in hald so you have a top and bottom portion. Most are pre-cut and you can split them with your fingers. If you have to cut them use a serrated bread knife and lay them flat. Cut sideways left to right and please do not add parts of your finger to the meal.

Lay the Torta rolls with the cut side face up on the half sheet tray. 6 rolls should completely, and perfectly, fit on a half sheet tray.

Dust the exposed side of the Torta rolls with granulated ( dry) garlic. One pass, light dusting, will do.

Open the Marinara  and pour empty the entire jar atop the bread. Spread with a spatula, or a brush, and coat evenly.

Add two pieces of Pepperoni to each piece of bread.

Open and layer Mozzarella trying to spread evenly across all the pieces.

Optional - Dust with Parm Cheese if you want.

Into the oven for 10-12 minutes depending on how you oven cooks.

Here is the only hard part:

Turn the oven from bake to Broil at 500 degrees. Leave in for 3 minutes, longer if you like more browning on you cheese. Watch the oven at this point, and you may have to spin the tray to cook evenly. If you go a ef-off you will burn these suckers the moment you do not pay attention.

There you have it. 12  pieces, 2 per person is pretty filling, but this is easy and quick. great for a game night ( tv or tabletop) or for feeding ravenous spawn.  Clean up is one tool ( Spatula or brush) and the sheet tray along with any plates or utensils used to eat.

Of course you can make this more fancy, you can add ham, sausage, salami or whatever you want to the meats and you can change the cheese to be a bit more exotic. You could make these vegetarian with mushrooms , fresh mozz and sprigs of Basil if you wanted to.




Product review and easy meals made quick and dirty. That is what we are working on today.

Sorry I didn't get a post up yesterday, I kinda came home from work and crashed due to having to be up at 4:30 this morning. Luckily they were cutting hours at work yesterday and I was able to bag out and spend a little time with the GF  before grabbing what little sleep I could last night. So everyone knows; I suck at sleeping. My sleep patterns now are hella better than when I was younger but I still don't sleep well. 

Anywho, lets continue a trend from the last post and talk about quick and easy meals on the cheap while also talking about a product and the cost/quality of said product. Before I go any farther I will put out a rare disclaimer in that : I am not paid by, or a representative of, the company or product I am about to talk about.

Amylu Teriyaki and Pineapple Chicken Meatballs

Price wise a pound and a half should run you right under $10 at Costco, or something like $.40 an ounce on average at various groceries. The Costco portion, so far, has seemed the best deal that I have seen. They will keep up to 6 months in the freezer and around 4 days after being opened if they are not used. They are fully cooked and can be eaten right out of the package if you are so hungrs. 

Taste wise- You do not need a sauce to go with these, the combination of teriyaki and pineapple makes them both sweet and savory at the same time. If you just have to add something sauce-wise to the meal I would err on the side of sweet over savory and I am much more of a savory person. 

Cooking- Follow the instructions for the air fryer that are on the package though I would add 2 minutes to the cooking time as well as pausing the cooking midway through to flip the meatballs. The air fryer method gives an even, light, caramelization and cooks the meatball all the way through. To date this has been the most successful way to cook the meatballs. The meatballs you get from Costco come with 2 packages and I want to say there are 24 meatballs to a package. 1 package will fill a single basket in a dual basket air fryer.

Combinations - I do these with the instant mashed potatoes from Costco, or you could make homemade mashed spuds should you like. 6 meatballs per person + mashed spuds is a hearty meal and you will get 4 servings out of this method with each person getting about 3/4 a pound of food. Realistically you could get away with 4 -5 meatballs, corresponding mashed spuds and then a veggie like carrots, corn or green beans and then you are getting 5 - 6 servings. If you just have to have bread then doing an Italian loaf or baguette will suffice.

in all you can feed 4-6 people for a total of about $25 American depending on what sides, and how many sides, you choose. That is not a bad cost for making a filling meal with a potential for left overs or the ability to serve multiple people.  In all, this is a solid product, good taste and value with some flexible options for serving. I know I kept it really simple, I normally don't have the brain to do product reviews so I may check out how other people do them so that I can get better at it.




Hey all,

For those of you who have been reading this, thank you. I do appreciate the time you take to stop by and see what I post. This is as close to social media as I get. No facebook, instagram or anything else that most people use to get their words out. I find most social media to be abhorrent, toxic and a pox on us all. The ability to post and hope that it influences others is odd to me, but I like food ( and cooking) so I wanted an outlet to throw some words up and see if anyone was interested in reading. I'm not good at this, I don't write to get likes or to sell a product/idea, which is why I do this here. I do for my own reasons and, to be honest, its also because I have not been as creative with other words and stories but I still felt the need to write something.

I'm a bit slow this week in the creative aspect of cooking. The S/O, Gf, or what you wish to think of her as, had surgery last Tuesday. She had all the lady plumbing removed for reasons and, for those female readers here, I am sure you can guess what I mean. Because of this I have been making only comfort food that she wants. I took 9 days off to be her nurse and personal cook and, so far, I think I have done a pretty good job. Breakfasts have been french toast, regular toast and biscuits. Omelets with cheese, eggs over medium and scrambled eggs. Bacon, sausage and other meats. nothing crazy. There has been jello and pudding aplenty ( pistachio and butterscotch if you wanted to know.) Lunches have been deviled ham and cream cheese sandwiches, cold cuts and cheese and anything that piqued her fancy. I did do a fancy pork cutlet with panko along with mashed spuds as one fancy dinner but tonight was hamburgers and fries with a with a chocolate milkshake (made with cookies and cream ice cream.) In other words, I have been lame for the creativity but awesome on the comfort side.

I've not been outside as much, thought I have gotten the barn cleaned up a bit. I plane to start buying herb seeds soon but I want to weather here to stop being bi-polar ( like 70 degrees one day and the next 30 with sleet like rain.) I'm planning to do a few planters this year with various flowers as well. I have a metric fuck ton of honey-dos and chores that I have been procrastinating on and I have also been drinking like Van Halen on tour in the 80's. ( you old people like me will get that reference.)

Anywho, wanted to stop in, drops some words and wish everyone a good day, night and or week. Hope you all are doing well and taking care of your business as best you can. I will try and write some new and cool shit soon.




I am completely clueless at times and earlier today I described myself as the living embodiment of a dumpster fire, so, there's that.

Is life all that bad, nah, not really; I'm not dumb enough to say,"It couldn't get worse," because then Karma is gonna go, "Hold my beer." it could always be worse, but I took a half day at work as sort of a mental health thing and, well, we will see how that takes. Until then there is food to be talked about and I will get on with it now that I have made you wade through some minor ramblings.

Way back, ie: earlier in these posts, I talked about making pizza dough. I won't go over that again so go find it if you want. I will tell you that I think I have finally figured out that 10-12 ounces is the perfect sized dough ball for a 12" pizza. That said, I experimented last Thursday and made a play on an Everything Bagel Pizza. Before I get to the pizza let me tell you about some absolute fail.

First, I build up the wood inside the pizza oven, set it on fire, and thought that, I don't know, since my partner and a friend of ours were standing out right in front of the pizza oven they would keep an eye on it. Now, I did not explicitly say, "Hey watch this for me and let me know if it goes out." My bad. I should have. They came in about 10 minutes later, saying nothing and hanging out around the kitchen. I had the oven on to pre-bake the pizza dough and with everything humming along nicely I got and check on the pizza oven outside.

Complete dead. No Fire. Nada. Oooops.

So, in the oven inside it will be and that is fine. We fire off several traditional meats and veggies on dough with marinara and everyone is digging the made to order person pan pizza buffet that we are throwing out. The last pizza I do something different and some of you may have already done something like this, for others, this may be, as the poet philosopher Marylin Manson was said, "this is the new shit."

Everything bagel Pizza by Moi!

Regular pizza dough, pre-baked for 5 minutes at 400.
Olive Oil - Enough to gently coat the dough
Everything Bagel seasoning ( you can get this pre-made at a grocery or you can do the following: Sesame seeds, Minced dried garlic, Minced dired onion, sea salt, poppy seeds and black sesame seeds.)
My toppings:
Ricotta Cheese
Soppressata salami
Dice red onions
fresh basil

You can really add anything you would add to a bagel here.

Cooked for about 12 minutes and everything came out pretty solid. Rotated the pie once while it was cooking, got a nice even browning around the edges.

I iwll try and post about the Coconut Cream pie I made, I am told it was all that was good by my girlfriend but I didn't have any because I don't like coconut. Before I leave I will impart two things with you all:

1) Mashed potatoes are just Irish Gucamole

2) Go to YouTube and type, "Play that Funky Music Rammstein"   (---- this will not disappoint if you like Wild Cherry, Rammstein or Metallica.




Yesterday was kind of low key and chill for me and my fam despite it being a holiday. The G/F had pulled a 12 hour overnight shift and had tied one on after doing eight hours on Saturday as well as work around the farm. The only plans we had for Sunday were to head to my parents, about 45 mins away, and cook brunch for them. Now, here in the Southern part of the US, as I can't speak for the rest of the country much less the rest of the world, Gravy holds a certain state of reverence in a breakfast meal. Well, that's not completely right, it holds reverence in /EVERY/ meal depending on how you use it. From turkey gravy on Thanksgiving to a brown grave with meat, Gravy is it's own food group and yet most people don't know how to make it. They know canned and jarred gravies, or those that come powdered and you add water, but they don't realize how simple it really is to make homemade gravy.

Guess what we are about to talk about? Yep, it involves gravy.

First off, the word has roots tracing back to the 1400 or so and may have been a play of the French word: "Gave'." I'm not sure how the word translated into "Severe" works here but the concept and the basis of Gravy is pretty basic and straight forward: drippings from something cooked ( usually meats but you could do a roasted vegetable gravy) combined with a "binder," such as corn starch or flour, and then mixed with a liquid, usually milk, to the desired consistency. This is it, add seasoning to taste: Salt, pepper, garlic and so on.

Common Gravy types:

Brown - From red meats or birds.

Red Eye - From Ham specifically

White - Like a thickened Bechemel sauce with a meat base.

Or, the one I am going to tell you about : Sausage Gravy.

Sausage gravy, in this case, came from 1 pound of Tennessee Pride mild sausage, Wondra flour and 2% milk and one secret at the very end. 

here are a few notes on the ingredients:

Sausage- When you cook this do so on medium high and grumble it really well. You can get a little sear/caramelization on the meat but do not overcook.You can use mild, spicy, Italian, go wild.

Flour - I use wondra or cake flour because it is much more fine. You can use All purpose or bread flour but go slow as to avoid clumping. You could use corn starch if you really wanted to.

Milk/buttermilk/Cream - Your call here but I like 2 % because of it's consistency .

Season to taste.

Ok, so how to go about making the liquid artery clogger known and lowed by my peebos:

Medium - large skillet. Heat on 6 or 7 . get the sausage in and break it down to crumbles. You want it good and cooked before step two.

Add flour directly to the skillet: I used about 1/3rd of a cup but you could use as little as 1/4. I would not go much over that unless you are making a LOT of Gravy. Just spread the flour over the sausage and drop the heat down to around 5 or just medium. 

Add the milk a little at a time, and you might be adding up to 2 cups depending on the thickness and consistency you want to have in the sauce. You can go over 2 cups but if you get to three this is going to be really runny. I would start by adding a half cup and then splashing in more from there.


once you get your desired thickness in the liquid drop in 1 pat, 1 ounce, of salted butter.

From here, season to taste. Have biscuits at the ready and get your grub on





A restaurant in town used to have a drink called a , "Pain killer." Here is my take on the drink so, if you like rum and coconut, sit back and get ready:

2.5 oz Rum ( I have used a 15 yr KS aged dark rum but you can use bacardi light or dark.)
2 oz Simple Syrup
3 oz Pineapple mango banana OJ ( Dole makes this or you can do 2 oz pineapple and 1 oz OJ)
2 oz Pina Colada Mix
splash cherry juice

Shake on ice and then pour into an appropriate glass. to be very fancy you could toast coconut and rim the glass with the toasted shards.

More later.