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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

food blog: cheese and almond pine cone cheeseball

so my daughter asked me to dig out one of our old family traditions this year. i've tried to let this fall by the wayside, because the old heart can't take too many of them. but cheese balls are just part of the Christmas dinner prequel. always have been, and probably always will be. not those despicable, nearly inedible cholesterol bombs you find in stores. no, these are delectable cholesterol bombs, made with loving care. so i went out onto the internet, searched and downloaded about 25 recipes, didn't like any of them enough to make, but used a bunch of them to come up with what i did make. so none of them were original, from the ether recipes, but none of them looked exactly like the published recipes, either.
i made 6 different kinds this year, went through 2 1/2 pounds of cream cheese (a big box worth from Costco. yay costco), 4 pounds of shredded cheddar/jack cheese mix (yay costco), a block of sharp Irish coastal cheddar, a pound of applewood smoked bacon, and probably increased the average lipid count in northern california by a couple of points.
i'll just treat you all to one of them, because i got a picture of it.

Cheese ball pine cone with Marcona almonds

  • 1 1/2 lb. Cream Cheese. That's three 8 ounce packages, or a big chunk hacked of the cheese brick in a box.
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar and jack mix (straight extra sharp cheddar works really well here too.) Thats about 8 ounces or so.
  • 1/4 of a yellow onion, grated on a box grater
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. back off that to 2 tsp if serving to lightweights.
  • 4 cloves minced garlic. I used the garlic press for this. Works like a champ.
  • Marcona Spanish almonds, as many as it takes to cover. ok, it doesn't have to be Marcona almonds, but they are family favorites, so i found them and used them. Regular blanched almonds, roasted in the oven at 250 degrees for 15 or 20 minutes were what the core recipe i stole used. if you really have way too much time on your hands, and are somewhat obsessive, a bag of sliced almonds can be used to mimic the pinecone petals, covering the dammit entirely. send me a picture if you do. i promise not to laugh. honest.
  • sprigs of fresh rosemary for decorations, if you have them.

Let the cheeses come to room temperature before starting. Beat the cream cheese in a mixer until fluffy. then add the cheddar/jack cheese, the onion, the garlic, and the Worcestershire sauce. Mix until everything is blended together. scrape the side of the bowl a couple of times to make sure everything gets incorporated. wrap the mix in plastic film and refrigerate until firm. I let it stand overnight to allow all the flavors to meld. when it's just mixed, the taste isn't anything to write home about. so let it stand overnight in the fridge. you'll get better results. when firm, remove the cheese and let stand for a little while at room temperature. keeping the cheeseball in the film, roll it and shape it to resemble a pine cone. unwrap and stick almonds all over it so that it looks like the petals of a pine cone. garnish with fresh rosemary twigs. let it stand at room temp for at least half an hour before serving. serve with crackers, celery sticks, or whatever strikes your fancy.
cheese cone

as always, if you try this recipe, or it inspires you to try something different, please let me know how it turned out. i'm always looking for fresh and clever ideas to improve my own cooking skills and recipes.

for a complete list of my online recipes, follow the link here

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

email funny: breaking news

first ever pictures of the super secret New Zealand Navy submarine flotilla on maneuvers off North Island

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

this year's springerle cookies were yummy!


so i tried a little something different this year with the springerle recipe. typically anise with a citrus note, the flavor profile this year was tangerine rather than just lemon. i used locally grown tangerines for their rind and juice, adding a couple of tablespoons of fresh squeezed tangerine juice for half of the lemon extract in the ingredients. i also micro-planed the peels of the the tangerines, and used that instead of lemon rind. oh man, are they good. i had to bake them just a little longer because of the added volume of liquid (the juice) but it was definitely worth the effort. feedback this year is running towards the "best batch ever" category. i'll have to explore some other flavor profiles next year, because these turned out so good.

as always, click on the picture to see other size choices...
springerle sampler

springerle angels

for the basic springerle recipes i use, see my blog entries here and here.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Happy Winter Solstice, as you wish......

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's Wednesday's weekly dose of Camille Paglia

so here it is, Wednesday again. we're bracing for a cold storm heading our way from siberia this coming week. brrrrr.
i like wednesday. one of the best reasons to do so is that Camille Paglia, my favorite liberal (but certainly not a libtard) publishes her weekly column over at salon.com. here's a taste of her latest:
this is a question a lot of us on the right have been asking for some time.....
As for Obama's appointment of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, what sense does that make except within parochial Democratic politics? Awarding such a prize plum to Hillary may be a sop to her aggrieved fan base, but what exactly are her credentials for that position? Aside from being a mediocre senator (who, contrary to press reports, did very little for upstate New York), Hillary has a poor track record as both a negotiator and a manager. And of course both Clintons constantly view the world through the milky lens of their own self-interest. Well, it's time for Hillary to put up or shut up. If she gets as little traction in world affairs as Condoleezza Rice has, Hillary will be flushed down the rabbit hole with her feckless husband and effectively neutralized as a future presidential contender. If that's Obama's clever plan, is it worth the gamble? The secretary of state should be a more reserved, unflappable character -- not a drama queen who, even in her acceptance speech, morphed into three different personalities in the space of five minutes.

and on the Mumbai terror killings:
Meanwhile, an area where too many in the mainstream media have been oddly AWOL is in the response to the attack on Mumbai, India, two weeks ago by a squad of Pakistan-based terrorists, who killed nearly 200 people. Reaction in the U.S. was somewhat muted because the protracted standoff occurred over the Thanksgiving holiday, when many Americans were traveling or absorbed in family business. But I was troubled by a persistent soft-pedaling of the identification of the attackers as Muslims --as if the mere reporting of that fact would be offensive and politically incorrect.

and of course:
The slaughter of the Hertzbergs and other Jews at Chabad House should be a wake-up call to Western liberals who believe that jihadism can be defeated through reason and happy talk. Only other Muslims can launch the stringent internal reform necessary to stomp this barbaric extremism out. But the events in Mumbai confirmed my opinion about the looming problem of a nuclear Iran: While I oppose all American military operations and bases in the Mideast, I continue to believe that Israel, whose security is directly threatened, has every right to take preemptive military action against Iran.

and who can ignore:
However, Cavett's piece on Sarah Palin was insufferably supercilious. With dripping disdain, he sniffed at her "frayed syntax, bungled grammar and run-on sentences." He called her "the serial syntax-killer from Wasilla High," "one who seems to have no first language." I will pass over Cavett's sniggering dismissal of "soccer moms" as lightweights who should stay far, far away from government.

I was so outraged when I read Cavett's column that I felt like taking to the air like a Valkyrie and dropping on him at his ocean retreat in Montauk in the chichi Hamptons. How can it be that so many highly educated Americans have so little historical and cultural consciousness that they identify their own native patois as an eternal mark of intelligence, talent and political aptitude?

sorry. there is so much intelligence written in her columns that one is tempted to just cut and paste the whole damned thing. there are a few things i don't agree with in this week's column, but by and large it's more informed and well written than many, if not most, of the "right wing conservative" blogs and articles posted this week. i wish she'd wake up and smell the coffee, and come to the dark side. but with mouths like hannity, o'rielly and their ilk, i can't say i really blame her.
here. follow this link to read the whole thing.