Archive for the ‘Cooking’ category

Pea Soup

November 15, 2018

Today I am cooking pea soup in our crock pot. This is one of Mary’s favorite meals. She will usually eat a whole soup bowl without any nagging on my part. When I was a kid, my mother would make pea soup and I hated it. I guess when I came to adulthood my tastes had changed.

And it so easy to make. Prep time is about 20-30 minutes. Cook time about 4-5 hours.

Here are the ingredients:

So we have:

  • 4 Carrots
  • 2 Celery stalks
  • 1 bag of dry split peas (usually found in the grains section)
  • 1 Medium onion
  • 8 oz. Diced ham. (Our super market sells packages of 8 oz., just the right size.)
  • 48 oz. Chicken stock (We prefer the low-salt variety)

Peel and chop the carrots. Wash and chop the celery and onion. Add to the crock pot.

Then wash the split peas in a colander. Add to the crock pot.

Finally, add the diced ham. Add the chicken stock with enough fluid to cover everything in the pot.

Cover and cook on high for about 4-5 hours. Good idea to stir once or twice during the cooking. Don’t forget to plug it in. (I’ve done that once or twice.)

I use plastic crock pot liners to help in the clean up later on. Available in the plastic bag aisle of the grocery store.

Done. Take a nap.

Joe’s Chili

July 24, 2017

Today we had our chili cook-off at LA Harbor Lodge in San Pedro. Here is the recipe for my entry. It didn’t win any awards but everyone who tried said that it was very tasty.  We all had fun doing it. And even I liked it.


  • 3 Stalks of Celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Jalapeño Peppers, seeds and core removed, chopped (I usually use surgical gloves when handling jalapeños. If you skip the gloves you will soon learn why I use the gloves.)
  • 1/2 Red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 lb bulk Italian sausage meat
  • 1 lb stew beef, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cans of red kidney beans
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (14.5 oz)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 packet of chili seasonings


  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil
  2. Sauté the onion and Jalapeños until they are soft and translucent
  3. Add sausage and stew beef.
  4. Sauté until the meat is completely browned.
  5. Drain off the fat
  6. Add the seasoning packet and mix
  7. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the crock pot
  8. Add the peppers and celery
  9. Add the cans of kidney beans (including water) and cans of tomatoes.
  10. Stir to combine.
  11. Important Step: Plug the crock-pot in and turn it on!
  12. Cook on high for about 4 hours. Stir occasionally

Mary and My Excellent Pea Soup

April 9, 2017

Paula is off at some wine tasting with Heather. I begged off. Had dinner with Mary. I did a pea soup from the ham bone left over from last weeks dinner with Mike & family.

I like to have a ham roast mostly for the ham bone that is left over. It makes such an extraordinary pea soup. And it’s so simple. One medium onion chopped, four carrots cut up, package of split peas and quart of beef or chicken broth. Add it all to your crock pot and let it simmer for five or six ours. I added 1/2 tsp of pepper and a couple of bay leaves. It’s even better as left overs on the second or third day.

By the way, that plastic thing in the crock pot is a liner that you can buy at the grocery store. Makes cleanup much easier. Can be found in the plastic bag section of the grocery store.

So Mary and I watched the local and national news. Got her over to the dining room table for dinner. Got her a glass of white zinfandel and we are all set. Poured out her meds and made sure that she took them.

Gave her some watermelon for dessert. She brushed her teeth and to bed.

Tomorrow, we will get her up early and really encourage her to go to church. Choir doing their annual Easter Cantata. Theresa will be singing in the choir. Not going to take no for an answer.



Joe’s Kick-Ass Sausage Lasagna

February 2, 2016

img_4131Today is Tuesday and that means family for dinner. I addition to the usual attendees, we will have our number 2 son Neil honoring us with his presence.

So we decided to have lasagna. The benefit of lasagna is that one can make it up ahead of time and then pop it into the oven 45 minutes before dinner.

So here’s what you need:

  • 2 24 oz. jars of spaghetti sauce. (I like some of the spicy variants but use what you like.)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups of shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 15oz. Container of Ricotta cheese (I usually get the low-fat version)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 1 lb of sausage meat
  • 8 oz lasagna noodles (1/2 a package)


  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook the lasagna noodles according to the directions on the box. (Usually about 8 minutes).  Remove from heat and drain into a sieve. Allow to cool for a while.
  2. Chop the onion and garlic. Saute in large frying pan.
  3. When onions are translucent add the sausage meat. Stir and break up the clumps. Cook until the sausage is fully cooked.
  4. In a small mixing bowl add the egg and beat. Then add the ricotta. The egg helps make the ricotta easier to spread.
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine the sauce. Add about half the sauce to the sausage mixture.
  6. Now we put it all together. In a 9″x 13″ baking dish. Spray with non-stick spray. Put a layer of sauce (the sauce without the meat) on the bottom of the dish.
  7. Add your first layer of noodles. Then a layer of the 1/2 the meat sauce mixture.
  8. Add about half of the ricotta. Spread it around. Then add a little more sauce.
  9. Add second layer of noodles. Add the rest of the meat mixture. Add the rest of the ricotta. Cover with sauce.
  10. Third layer of noodles. Add half the remaining sauce (the meatless sauce). Cover with Mozarella.
  11. Fourth layer of noodles. Rest of sauce and rest of Mozarella.
  12. Cover with plastic wrap. Put in refrigerator. Pour yourself a glass of Chianti. You’re done until it’s time to put it in the oven.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake for about 45 minutes. Don’t forget to remove the plastic wrap. Serve with warm garlic bread and a nice Chianti.

Chicken Recipe from 1959

December 24, 2015

So the other day, we were looking for a new way to cook some chicken thighs. So Paula was browsing through various cookbooks and we found a newspaper clipping tucked inside one of Mary’s cookbooks. The recipe was one where you dip the chicken pieces in evaporated milk and coat with crushed corn flakes. Okay, we haven’t done that in a long time. Let’s try it.

But that’s not much of a story. What is more interesting is the ad on the back side of the recipe. It’s an ad for diet pills. It doesn’t say it but my guess is that it’s some sort of speed/dexedrine. So, I scanned and included here.



Oh by the way, here’s the recipe. Tasted pretty good.



General Tso’s Chicken

February 23, 2015

So, inquiring minds want to know. Who was General Tso and why did he have a chicken dish named after him? I was having a conversation with my daughter-in-law Theresa about Chinese food (of the American variety) in general and General Tso’s chicken in particular.

According to Wikipedia, General Tso probably refers to Tso Tsung-t’ang who was a Chinese statesman and military leader in the late Qing Dynasty. He was born in 1812 and died in 1885.

He served in China’s northwestern regions, quelling the Dungan revolt and various other disturbances. There doesn’t seem to be any particular connection to him. The roots of the dish seem to lie in the post-1949 exodus of Chinese chefs to America. So the answer is no, the General did not actually eat this excellent dish.

Here’s the full Wikipedia entry on General Tso’s Chicken.

Now for some of the recipes. There are tons of recipes to be found. Here are just a few. (Click on the hyperlink).




– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


February 16, 2015

no zucchiniTime to tell a story. Today we were at the supermarket. This particular market starts you off at the produce section (after you’ve stopped at the Starbuck’s). These days there are lots of fruits and vegetables to choose from. But there is one vegetable that I will absolutely not eat. Zucchini.

Paula knows that I do not like zucchini. To paraphrase the imitable Dr Seuss, I will not eat zucchini at home, I will not eat it at a restaurant. I will not eat it at lodge. I will not eat zucchini boiled, fried, sauteed, etc.

There are other green vegetables that have been famously disliked. George HW Bush was famous for his dislike of Broccoli. He once famously said:

I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.

That didn’t make the Broccoli Growers’ Association very happy. But I digress, back to the subject at hand, zucchini.

This is my story on how I came to dislike zucchini. Back in the day, before I had met Paula, love of my life. mother of my children (we’re talking early 1970’s here folks) I came to be living with a women who shall remain nameless. So this young woman had a fondness for having a home garden.

I am an engineer by trade and never particularly cared much for bothering with growing things. So one fine summer, My POSSLQ (an acronym coined by the US Census bureau to mean “Person Of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters”) started a home garden. One of her crops was zucchini.

And while we are talking about POSSLQ’s, here is a poem by Charles Osgood:

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands and crystal brooks
With silken lines, and silver hooks.
There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do
If you would be my POSSLQ.

You live with me, and I with you,
And you will be my POSSLQ.
I’ll be your friend and so much more;
That’s what a POSSLQ is for.

And everything we will confess;
Yes, even to the IRS.
Some day on what we both may earn,
Perhaps we’ll file a joint return.
You’ll share my pad, my taxes, joint;
You’ll share my life – up to a point!
And that you’ll be so glad to do,
Because you’ll be my POSSLQ.

We had a prolific crop of zucchini. By August, we had way too much zucchini. We couldn’t give the stuff away. If you don’t harvest zucchini in time, it will continue to grow and grow and grow. It will soon grow to be the size of a watermelon. There are only so many ways that one can cook zucchini, but it is still zucchini. Overripe zucchini gets very big and very tough. Think consistency of a two by four.

So as our relationship began to sour as it did that summer, I began to link my dislike for overripe zucchini with my former POSSLQ. So for me there will be no Zucchini, EVER.


December 30, 2014

Cioppino is an Italian fish stew that an excellent choice for a cold winter’s day. (Even in LA). Temperature today in San Pedro is in low 50’s with light rain. Not exactly weather back in Mass, but chilly nevertheless. The attached recipe belonged to Paula’s father Harold. Harold died in 2009. Whenever we have it, we think of him. It was one of his favorite dishes.

There are tons of recipes for cioppino available online. Here is the pointer to the Wikipedia entry.

2014-12-30 19.25.49

Selection of fish depends on what’s available at fish monger. Quantity depends on how many people you are serving. Our choices also depend on the price of various fish components. One can end up spending a lot of money at the fish counter.

2014-12-30 19.36.31



1/4 c Olive Oil
1 Onion (large), chopped
1 Clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp Parsley, fresh, chopped
1/2 c Celery, chopped.
1/2 c Green Pepper, chopped
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
1 6oz can of tomato paste
2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
2/3 c red wine (Harold’s handwritten copy specifies 1 cup Stanley wine. Back in the day, Harold made his own wine.)
4 c water (optional: substitute 8 oz clam juice for one cup of water)
1/4 tsp Basil
1/2 tsp Red Pepper
pinch of Rosemary (Harold’s copy suggested “or any other young lady”)
1/2 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 lobster tails – Cut in 1″ pieces
1/2 lb Medium shrimp
6-12 Scallops
3 Crab legs – cut in half
6-12 Little shell clams
6-12 Mussels
1 lb white fish ( Swai, Cod or whatever’s available. One can find Cod on the west coast but usually it’s expensive.), cut in 1″ pieces


Heat oil in large kettle. Saute onion, garlic, parsley, celery and green pepper until golden.

Add tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, paprika and wine.

Simmer 15-20 minutes – Stir occasionally.

Add water and remaining seasonings. Cook slowly for 45-60 minutes.

15 minutes before serving. Add chunks of white fish.
10 minutes before serving. Add shell fish.
Cook over low heat until fish are done. The clams should open up when they are done.

Serve with garlic bread and a glass of red wine (in a glass, not the soup). I suggested Chianti, but I was outvoted by Paula. So we had a nice Cabernet Sauvignon). Thr version we made tonight didn’t have either the crab legs or lobster tails. Too expensive.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Good Gravy

August 23, 2014

Okay, this is part story about cooking for our family here in San Pedro and part how to make gravy.

Long ago before I met Paula, I learned how to cook a turkey. In 1973, I was working for Raytheon in Houston Texas as a sort of high-tech gypsy installing systems for the FAA. I was away from home for the first time and my room-mate and I thought we ought to have a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. So I called home and asked Mom how it was done. So from that day forward, I made the Turkey.

So many years later, our family had flown out to San Pedro for Thanksgiving one year. We were there a few days before Turkey day, and we were discussing what to do for Thanksgiving. Mary was all for making reservations. Paula and I told her that wasn’t going to happen. We said we don’t do Thanksgiving in a restaurant. We offered to do the cooking. And so it began.

Our first challenge was to find a liquor store that sold Beaujolais Nouveau. Beaujolais Nouveau hits the market every year in November. But most of the grocery store hadn’t a clue what we were talking about. Eventually we found a few bottles. Now we were ready to get properly medicated for the event.

The next challenge was to clear off the dining room table. Over the previous few months, mail had accumulated to the point of becoming a huge pile. Harold and Mary weren’t accustomed to having a large group for dinner. So we started on the table.

I don’t think that Mary had been doing much cooking in that kitchen. We discovered on Thursday morning that the kitchen sink was clogged. Just imagine for a minute how hard it might be to find a plumber on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Can’t be done. We eventually got the sink unclogged with a plunger and the meal went off without any further hitches.

Paula and I tend to cook together often. Sometimes, I do all the cooking. Usually she has me do the oven roasts (beef, turkey, lamb, etc.) One time, just after we had arrived here two years ago, Mary complemented Paula on a fine meal. Paula says, ahem, Joe cooked that. Oops. She now pays more attention to who is doing the cooking. So last night, she complemented me on the Shepherd’s Pie. She cleaned her plate and had more today reheated for lunch. There is no better complement than to see someone licking the plate after the meal.

Now on to the gravy. Last night I was working on my version of Shepherd’s Pie. I started with three different recipes and kept the parts of each recipe that I liked. One recipe called for brown gravy. Browned the ground beef and time to make gravy.

For Shepherd’s Pie you need about a cup of gravy. Start with two Tablespoons of unsalted butter. Not margarine, BUTTER. The real thing. Never mind the cardiologist who going into fits.

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over low heat. When the butter is completely melted, slowly stir in 2 tablespoons of flour with a whisk, stirring constantly. At this point you should have a nice smooth concoction. Measure out about 1 cup of beef broth. (If you are making chicken gravy, use chicken broth). Add about 2/3 cup into the mixture, continue stirring. As it thickens you will likely need to add more liquid to get the right consistency thickness. One can always make thick gravy thinner. Making thin gravy thicker is a bit of a problem.

Need more gravy? Just start with proportionally more butter, flour, and liquid. Process is the same. Add whatever flavoring suits you. For the Shepherd’s pie, I added a couple of tbsp’s worcestershire sauce, and a couple of tbsp’s of ketchup. Sometimes, I use gravy master. Adds flavor and makes the gravy a bit browner.