Monthly Archives: June 2012

Homemade Olive Tapenade

Olive tapenade is a very popular dish, especially in the south of France, and usually as an appetizer.  The main ingredient is olives, but interestingly the word “tapenade” is from the Provencal word for capers, tapenas.  Here is an easy, easy recipe for olive tapenade:

20 Kalamata olives, pitted, finely chopped

1 T capers, rinsed, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

2 t good olive oil (or just enough to make the mixture a pasty texture)

1 t lemon juice

Fresh cracked black pepper

(Feel free to try different recipes by adding small amounts of things like anchovies, brandy, Herbs de Provence, etc)

Mix all ingredients well.  You can actually grab your mortar and pestle for this one if you’d like.  Use as a spread on crostini or sandwiches, or just eat with plain bread.


The Grilled Atheist


Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Cooking, Recipes


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Carving Set

I don’t really think a carving set is essential.  But it is nice to have for holidays.  And, well, let’s face it, you can use it for all of your general carving too.  We think of the Thanksgiving turkey when we think of this implement.  But I think you can use it for any of your roasts, ribs, chucks, chickens, hens, and loins.  And it gives you a reason to go get one…

This is my Shun set, which I absolutely love.  The blade on the knife may be the sharpest one that I own.  The fork is great too although pretty general.  You’re really buying the set for the blade.

The only problem with the Shun knives that I’ve found is that they’re easy to blemish and chip.  That’s the price you pay for sharpness.  However, Shun knives have a lifetime warranty and you can send them in anytime for resharpening and for tending to any chips or dents.

I am not paid by Shun, but I think that you should go test drive some of their knives.  You will be pleasantly surprised.  But lighter in the pocket for it.


The Grilled Atheist


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I might have a problem…

I love cookbooks.

And I love when my kitchen looks like this.  There’s just something about getting lost in a good cookbook or magazine.  The beautiful photos.  Imagining the smells and tastes.  Learning new dishes and new ingredients.  Looking back at recipes that you enjoyed and seeing some sauce splattered on the page.

I also love getting a local cookbook from anyplace that I travel to.  It’s just a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the culture.  Ever better is trying the fare and either searching out the recipe on your own or talking to the chef about how to prepare the dish.  What better way to travel than with your stomach!

Therapy…Reading cookbooks is complete therapy for me.  It is relaxing yet stimulating.  Passive, but active.  It’s armchair traveling.  It’s a story.  A narrative.  And always with a great ending.

What are your favorite cookbooks?


The Grilled Atheist


Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Books, Cooking



Flank Steak Soft Tacos

Tacos are fantastic.  Savory, and you can add almost anything you want to them.  Here’s a simple recipe for you for flank steak tacos.  Grab a flank steak.  The flank is from the abdomen of the cow, so it’s tough.  Tougher than most other cuts you work with.  Season the steak.  If you’re in a hurry use something like this.

The Badia Fajita seasoning is pretty good, but I like the products from Pico de Gallo.  They make some awesome rubs and seasonings.  The Carne Asada is just the right amount of taste and heat.  If you have time, season with

1 T chili powder

1 t each salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin

1/2 t cracked black pepper

Rub rub rub.  I like to score the flank steak since it is tough, just to get some good seasoning deep in the meat.

Grill on medium-high heat until your doneness.  I usually like beef medium, but I’m happy to have flank steak medium-well or well.  The meat still retains its flavor.

As an accompaniment, for the soft tacos I like to grill the tortillas, and then add shredded cabbage and a chipotle mayo sauce.  The chipotle mayo is easy.  Mayo, liquid from canned chipotles (don’t need too much otherwise it will be too hot and overpowering), juice from half a lime, sugar, salt, and pepper.

Then I like to make a nice slaw to offset the heat of the taco.  Julienne carrots, jicama, red onion, vidalia onion, and red bell pepper.  Dress with a wisked mixture of olive oil, fresh lime juice, sugar, salt black pepper, and cumin.


The Grilled Atheist


Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Cooking, Ingredients, Recipes


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Bacon Jam

Yes.  You read that right.  Skillet Street Food sells a product called Bacon Jam.

It’s a sweety, salty mixture of goodness that goes well with just about anything.  Nice for a spread on burgers.  Good substitute for (or addition to) the bacon on a BLT.  Great on crosstini or panini.  Or scallops.  Or steak…

Oh man I’m hungry.

You can make your own too.  I haven’t tried this recipe but it looks pretty darn good.  Maybe I’ll test drive it this weekend.


The Grilled Atheist

PS – You had me at Bacon…


Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Cooking, Ingredients, Recipes


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Onion Goggles…

I.  Look.  Awesome.

Onions make me cry something fierce.  Not just cry, but make me incapacitated.  So much so, that sometimes I have to prep them hours in advance of cooking, because if I don’t my eyes just won’t function.  Interestingly, not everyone succumbs to their tear jerking power.  Only about 70% of people cry when chopping onions.

When you chop an onion you release chemicals that would otherwise be separated.  These combine to form propanethiol S-oxide, and this gas floats up to your eyeball, combines with water, and forms sulfuric acid.  Yes.  You heard me.  Sulfuric acid IN YOUR EYE!  And so.  We cry.

Interestingly, cooking the onion denatures the enzyme.  That’s why you don’t cry when cooking onions, just chopping them.

My awesome goggles have a layer of foam around the lenses to keep that nasty propanethiol S-oxide away from my eyeball.  But if you don’t want to look as rocking as me, here are some other things your can do to keep onion prep from making you look like a little baby…

Use an extremely sharp blade.  This will limit the mixing of chemicals by limiting the destruction of cell tissue.

Chill the onion in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, or soak in water.  This limits the amount of enzyme released.

Chop the onions under a fan (hood), near a steam source (like a boiling tea kettle), or near running water.

Cut the onions under water.

Rub vinegar onto your cutting board (it denatures the pesky enzyme).

Set up a fan next to your cutting board.

Or you could just wear the goggles.  And look awesome when you cook…


The Grilled Atheist

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Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Cooking


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A friend of a friend died a couple of days ago.

She was young.  She had a child.

She went in for a routine procedure.  Wisdom teeth extraction.  Under anesthesia her heart stopped.  She could not be revived.

It is tragic.

Some people ask me, “If you are an atheist, what do you believe happens after you die?”  Nothing.  The world existed for billions of years without me, and I don’t remember it.  When I die, I decompose and become base elements.  Building blocks for something else.  I don’t believe that there is a soul that survives us.  People ask me, “Well, this world is a test.  For the next life.  Don’t you want eternal life?”

Actually…  I’m not sure I want eternal life.  To live forever.  To what end?  Praising?  Seems shallow.  Although I do admit that wings and flying would be cool.

“God has a plan.”  That also seems shallow to me.  If I were a god.  And I designed the system.  It would not include unnecessary death.  There would be no “other world.”  And no “test world,” where we have to prove ourselves.  Seems silly, doesn’t it?

I don’t know what happens when we die.  That is humble.

If you were to ask me, this is my opinion.  I think that THIS is the life we have.  We live once.  One time.  To try to make a difference.  It would be nice to think that there is a magic world that goes on forever.  But what count is the NOW.  Here is what I think we should do:

If you are religious.  Pray.  And thank your god for life and health.

If you are not religious.  Seek solace.  In statistics.  In the fact that we should not be here in the first place.

Hug often.

Call you mother.

If you can walk, take the stairs.

Open your eyes and really see the world around you.



Look at the world around you.  And ask questions about it.  Question everything.

Be kind to those around you.

Go out of your way.  To do nice things without expectation of recompense.

Be in awe…for the rest of your life.


Posted by on June 23, 2012 in Atheism, Random Thoughts, Religion


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