Hot and Sour Soup



I love Hot and Sour Soup.  This is an awesome recipe for a cold day.  The secret to good H&S soup is black vinegar which gives the soup some sweetness.  Make sure to prep all of the ingredients prior to cooking as this recipe is done in stages.  Some of the amounts for the solids are a little unusual, and often I’ll add more depending on how hearty I want it to be.


2-3oz chicken breast


2-3oz beef sirloin


1 can bamboo shoots


1 can diced water chestnuts


2-3 oz firm tofu


5oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed


2T canola oil


6 green onion, white and pale green parts thinly sliced


1T minced ginger


8 cup (64oz) chicken broth/stock (or 32oz each beef and chicken stock)


1/3 cup black vinegar


2T rice wine vinegar


2T chili bean paste (or 1T garlic chili paste for spicier soup)


2T dark soy sauce


2t sesame oil


1/4 t ground white pepper


2 large eggs, beaten


1T cornstarch dissolved in water



Cut the chicken, beef, tofu, and bamboo shoots into strips about 3-4 inches long and 1/4 inch wide.  Thinly slice the mushrooms.  Bring a saucepan 3/4 full of water to a boil.  Add the chicken, beef, tofu, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and water chestnuts and par boil for about 3 minutes.  Watch carefully as a film will form due to the mushrooms.  Drain in a colander and rinse to get rid of any film.  Set aside.


In a pot or dutch oven warm the canola oil over medium-high heat.  Add the green onions and ginger and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add in the broth, black vinegar, rice wine, chili bean paste, soy sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper.  Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute.  Reduce heat to simmer for about 10 minutes.



Pour in the beaten eggs in a thin steady stream, and allow to stand for 20 seconds.  Then swirl them into the soup.  Add in the meat and vegetables.  Add half of the cornstarch/water mixture steadily and stir continuously.  For thicker soup add the other half.  Simmer for another 10 minutes, then serve in warmed bowls.  Although I don’t prefer the soup to be garnished, some people like to add peas or ham to the finished soup.  Enjoy.






























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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Cooking, Recipes


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2012 Books

I heard somewhere this year that the average American reads 17 books per year…  I’m highly skeptical.  Seems like an awfully high number to me.  Unfortunately, I’ve been cursed with a passion for reading but do so at a snail’s pace.  I did not meet my quota for this year, but would like to think that I had some interesting reads.  Mostly fiction this year for some reason.  Well, here’s my list:

Go Ask Alice (214pp)

The Book of Drugs – Mike Doughty (252pp)

The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran (96pp)

The Clockwork Universe, Issac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World – Edward Dolnick (387pp)

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline (374pp)

Lying – Sam Harris (Kindle e-book)

How I Killed Pluto and Why it Had it Coming – Mike Brown (271pp)

Nocturnal – Scott Sigler (567pp)

The Wind Through the Keyhole – Stephen King (309pp)

The House of God – Samuel Shem (380pp)

Help!  A Bear is Eating Me! – Mykle Hansen (129pp)

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury (176pp)

Xkcd volume 0 – Randall Munroe (111001pp…lol)

The Dog Stars – Peter Heller (320pp)

12.21 – Dustin Thomason (324pp)

Redshirts – John Scalzi (317pp)

Thanksgiving.  How to Cook it Well – Sam Sifton (125pp)

The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty – Dan Ariely (285pp, In progress)

I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas – Lewis Black (178pp, In progress)

Plus about 10 cookbooks!

How did you guys do?  Post your favorites.


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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in Books


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Foodie Pen Pal for November

This idea continues to be great!  Haley, my Foodie Pen Pal for November, sent some wonderful sweet and savory treats for me and the boys:

Banana Chips

Annie’s Bunny Pasta with Yummy Cheese

J&D’s Cheddar Bacon Popcorn (are you kidding???)

Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Wasabi Edamame

Ghirardelli Assorted Chocolate Squares

Moose Munch Totally Caramel Delirious Snacks

Butter Popcorn Seasoning (Theater Salt, Buttery Toffee, Buttery Herbs and Jalapeno, and Butter Salt)

And assorted teas

Needlees to say, the boys were very happy.  Thanks Haley!  Again, if you are interested in trying this out just got to and sign up.


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Posted by on December 2, 2012 in Cooking


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Guy Fieri’s Cajun Chicken Alfredo.



Photo from Guy Fieri’s cookbook “FOOD.”


This is a great recipe that I’ve made a few times now.  Worthy of posting.  It’s a fun play on regular chicken alfredo.


About 1 LB Boneless chicken breasts


Blackening spice rub (Make a batch with 2T salt, 1T granulated garlic, 1T cracked black pepper, 2t white pepper, 2t onion powder, 2t cumin, 1t cayenne, 3T paprika)


2T olive oil


3T minced garlic


1/4 cup dry white wine (or n/a substitute)


3 cups heavy cream


1 cup sun dried tomatoes roughly chopped


1 pound fettuccine


3/4 cup parm cheese (divided 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup)


1t sea salt


1t black pepper


1/4 cup sliced green onions for garnish



Rub the chicken with the blackening spice and in a hot cast iron skillet sear the chicken for about 2 minutes per side.  Then place chicken on a baking sheet and place into a 350 degree oven until internal temp is 160 (10-15 minutes).  When done, allow to sit for 10 minutes then slice across grain into strips.  Reserve.


Meanwhile boil a large pot of water (salted).  Add pasta when boiling and cook until al dente.  Strain.  Reserve.


Add oil to a pan and warm over med-high heat.  Saute garlic for about 2-3 min.  Add wine to deglaze.  Stir in heavy cream, bring to simmer and cook until reduced by half.  Add in the sun dried tomatoes and the chicken.  Simmer until desired consistency then add 1/2 cup of the parm cheese, salt, pepper, and the pasta.  Stir well.


Serve on warmed plates and garnish with more parm cheese and the green onions.


























Posted by on November 13, 2012 in Cooking, Recipes


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Pozole.  Oh, my sweet Mexican princess.  This comfort dish is great any time of the year.  Combines pork and hominy with great spices.  Despite its great flavors it has kind-of a gory history.  According to research by the National Institute of Anthropology and History and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, on special occasions, the meat used in the pozole was human. Yes, that’s right folks…  After prisoners were killed by having their hearts torn out in a ritual sacrifice, the rest of the body was chopped and cooked with corn. The meal was shared among the whole community as an act of religious communion.


Well, that’s appetizing.  Who’s up for a recipe with non-human flesh, hmm?



3 Lb Pork shoulder

Chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper




2T corn or canola oil

2 onions, chopped



1 Jalapeno, minced


6 Garlic cloves, minced


2T chili powder, 1t cumin, 1t oregano


24 oz Chicken stock


4 cans green chilis



1 can (15oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes

2 cans of hominy



Trim the pork shoulder of any excess fat, and season liberally with chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Place in a baking dish, tent with foil, and bake at 350-400 for about 1 1/2 hours (or until internal temp is 160).  I also like to pour a little bit of chicken stock in the baking dish.


After baking allow the pork to rest for 20 minutes.  Then pull, shred, or dice.  Reserve pork and any liquid.


Over medium heat warm the oil and cook onions and jalapeno for about 6 minutes.  Then add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and mix spices to cook for about 1 minute.  Add the chicken stock, green chilis, fire roasted tomatoes, hominy, pork, and any reserved liquid.  Bring to a boil over high, then reduce to simmer for about 15 minutes.


Serve in warm bowls with lime wedges, cilantro, sliced avocado to garnish.  Serve with warmed tortillas.


No humans were harmed in the making of this pozole…





















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Posted by on November 11, 2012 in Cooking, Recipes


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Remember What You’re Voting For…

Vote today.

But keep in mind what you’re voting for.  I’ve said this in previous posts.  But POTUS has very limited power.  On purpose.  POTUS cannot single handedly “fix the economy” or “create jobs.”  Despite all of the Rhetoric.  POTUS’s power is limited to 1) Military command/action, 2) Veto power, and 3) Appointments.  That’s it.

But maybe what you’re looking for is a leader.  That’s really the unspoken power of POTUS.  According to George Friedman in his great book, “The Next Decade,” the “greatest” Presidents have been Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Reagan.  Not because of what they necessarily achieved in office.  But because of how they changed the American conscience.  “Rallied the troops” so to say.

And your individual vote itself may not make a huge difference, sorry to say.  Remember that we do not live in a Democracy.  We live in a Representative Republic.  The Founding Fathers understood that they didn’t want the electorate to have complete control over who is ultimately elected into office.  Which is why we have the Electoral College.

Don’t flinch…I understand your consternation.  But still do your part.  Vote.  But understand what it means and why you are doing it…




Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Politics


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Foodie Pen Pal and Goodies Company.


If you are a foodie, I have two things you’re going to love:


First: Foodie Pen Pals!


Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean ( started a Foodie Pen Pal program a few years ago that has really taken off.  There are now upwards of 1000 participants each month.  I decided to do it last month and was pleasantly surprised.  Briefly, what happens is 1) you sign up at the beginning of each month on her website (even if you’ve done it in the past), 2) you are then assigned a person that you have to make a Gift Box for, the ingredients of which cannot exceed $15, and include a recipe of your choice, 3) this is mailed by mid month to your pen pal, 4) SOMEONE ELSE is assigned to do the same for you, so you get a package from a different person than the one you are sending to, and finally 5) you blog about what you got in the mail and what you made with it on the last day of the month.  Pretty awesome, huh?  That way, each month you meet two new Foodie friends.  Definitely check this out.  It’s really fun, very inexpensive, and a cool way to meet people who are interested in FOOD.


So the person assigned to me was Lindsey (a different Lindsey) and she lives in Guam.  How cool is that???  My kids and I had a great time looking up Guam, reading about the local culture and food, and of course enjoying her gift box.  So Lindsey sent me a bunch of awesome treats from her island…



Included was:


Coco Jo’s local chocolate chip cookies


Nori, for treats or for making small sushi rolls


Guguria, another hard cookie made by the locals


Yan Yan, an on-the-go sweet treat with chocolate and strawberry dipping sauce


Ginger Peach tea


Papaya soap


So I didn’t really make a recipe with these items, but instead had a dessert party with my kids…  They dug all of the great sweets and we pretended that we were on an island in the middle of the Pacific!  Thanks Lindsey!




Second: Goodies Company!



You’ve probably seen the side bar ads for this on Facebook.  I decided to sign up and this month was their first shipment.  Similar set up in that you pay a set fee each month and then get a box of stuff.  It’s like Christmas every month.  So this first month had a Halloween theme (in that everything is sweet), and I received:




Dang – Toasted Coconut chips


Nutella & Go – Breadsticks and nutella…


Smartfood Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Crisps


Juicefuls Snacks


Mayesa Chocolate Beverage


Brownie Brittle Chocolate Chips treats


So a fun selection for the Halloween month.  The box is presented very nicely with a descriptive insert regarding all of the products.  Check it out at Goodies Company or on Facebook.


So if you are a Foodie and/or like pen pals and/or like getting surprises in the mail every month, you should absolutely check out these two great sites.



The Grilled Atheist




























Posted by on November 1, 2012 in Cooking, Ingredients, Random Thoughts, Recipes


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Tomatillo Salsa

This is soooo easy, you will never buy Tomatillo Salsa again.

This is a Tomatillo.

It’s our green tomato to the south.  Wonderful for salsas and sauces.  You can find them here in some specialty grocery stores and Mexican markets.  Don’t be intimidated by this guy.  It’s very easy to cook.  For this recipe you will need:

1 Pound of tomatillos

1 Spanish onion

3-4 garlic cloves

*3 serranos (see note)

1 bunch of cilantro

1 lime

1/4 cup of chicken or vegetable stock

*Note: Depending on how hot you would like the salsa, the number and type of pepper can vary.  I used three serranos with half the seeds taken out of each.  And my salsa was SPICY.  Now I like spicy food so that was ok for me.  If you want it less spicy you can 1) use fewer peppers, 2) de-seed all of the peppers, 3) use jalapenos instead (serranos are 10K-23K on the Scoville scale while jalapenos are 3.5K-8K), or 4) omit the pepper altogether.

First, take off the husk surrounding the tomatillo.  They’ll be sticky.  Don’t worry, this is normal.  Just rinse in a colander until the residue is gone.

Then cut the tomatillos in half through the equator, quarter the onion, half the pepers, and lightly smash the garlic.  Place all of these items on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper (place the tomatillos skin side up).

Place under a broiler on high heat for about 5-7 minutes until all of the components begin to char slightly.  Don’t worry if some of the pulp from the tomatillos liquifies…it’s all going into the blender.

Let these cool slightly.  Place all of the tomatillos, onion, peppers, and garlic in a blender or food processor.  Add in a “bunch” of cilantro (just tear off a good handful), the juice from one lime, the stock, and a little more salt and pepper.  Blend on med-high until mostly smooth with some chucks left (be careful please if you’re blending while warm).

Enjoy with chips, tamales, eggs, on salad, etc.  Quick, easy, wonderfully tasty.  Cheers!

The Grilled Atheist


Posted by on October 8, 2012 in Cooking, Recipes


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OMG.  You may never want to cook a burger another way again…

In making the smashburger (no relation to the restaurant) you’ll be utilizing a different technique.  Making the burger on the griddle instead of the grill.  This will ensure that you keep all of the juices in the meat.  Makes for a ridiculous taste sensation.

The burger:

I don’t care what you put in it…  Make the burger any way that you would like.  Most of the time I don’t even measure anymore when I make burgers.  I just kind of know how much of what that I like to go with the meat.

In the bowl I start with a lightly beaten egg, add in the ground chuck (this is about 1.75 pounds), and then I put in “shakes” of Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, granulated onion and garlic, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and cinnamon.  Mix thoroughly but gently.

Roll into 1/4 pound balls.  Slice onion into 1/8 – 1/4 inch slices (rounds).

I have a great cast iron stove top griddle that I like to use.  Otherwise use a large cast iron or other pan.  Place the griddle on the stove and put gas on high.  Grease pan (oil or Pam).  Place each ball of meat on the griddle with enough room to be smashed into a patty.

Cook that way for at least three minutes, then SMASH each ball into a patty.

Cook for a couple of minutes on each side for medium-rare (3-4 minutes for medium-well).  Meanwhile place a small amount of butter on the pan and an onion round on the butter.  Flip after 1-2 minutes.

When the hamburger is done place the patty on the onion round for another minute…  This step is critical!  It allows all of the good, heavenly juices to drain down into the onion.

Place onto a warm bun.  Top how you’d like.  I’m a purist, so just mustard for me please…

If it’s not the richest juiciest burger you’ve had…then you did something wrong and shame on you!


The Grilled Atheist

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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Cooking, Grilling, Recipes


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Book Review – The Dog Stars





Just finished The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (Knoff, $15.56 at  Man.  What a fantastic novel.  Similar to The Road by Cormac McCarthy by a little less gruesome and a little more optimistic.  No spoilers given.


The story is post-apocalyptic in nature, taking place in the not too distant future after a virus wipes out 99.9% of humanity.  It revolves around Hig, his dog Jasper, and his somewhat unstable “friend” Bangley.  Hig and Bangley live at a rural air station, and have been there for almost ten years after the fall of humanity.  It is a story of their survival.  Their sometimes pressed but necessary relationship.


Just reading this makes me wish that I had an iota of the writing talent of Heller.  The prose is fluent, introspective.  Just a couple of examples:


“Is it possible to love so desperately that life is unbearable?  I don’t mean unrequited, I mean being in love.  In the midst of it and desperate.  Because knowing it will end.  Because everything does.  End”


“Grief is an element.  It has it’s own cycle like the carbon cycle, the nitrogen.  It never diminishes not ever.  It passes in and out of everything.”


“Life and death lived inside each other.  That’s what occurred to me.  Death was inside all of us, waiting for warmer nights, a compromised system, a beetle, as in the now dying black timber on the mountains.  And life was inside death, virulent and insistent as a strain of flu.  How it should be.”


If you like McCarthy, Hemingway, or post apocalyptic stories go out now and grab this…you won’t be able to put it down.










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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Books


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