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All Posts by James Sechrengost
With the weather getting cold and miserable, I have to wonder what was I thinking moving from Southern California to Pennsylvania? Of course now they are in monsoon season. I remember when I got to SoCal one of the first things the military had me do was fight brush fires. Then when winter came I was back in the same area filling sand bags to stop the mud and rain from ruining homes since there was no vegetation left from the fires to hold the soil in place.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, cold weather. After trudging through the snow and slush the last thing I feel like doing when I get home is cook. I just want to put on my jammies and settle down in my warm house and let the storms rage outside. So to do this I have become a fan of soups. In particular soups you can make in a crockpot. I put everything in the crockpot, turn it on, and when I get home the house smells wonderful and there is a warm meal waiting to heat me up. Throw in some nice crusty bread and some local butter and I am a happy little camper. I have included below two recipes for my favorite versions of both lentil and split pea soups. I hope they warm you up as much as they do me.
Continue Reading: Two soups to help you fight the winter chill
Posted by James Sechrengost on 12/05, 2014 at 10:18 AM
Way back when, Swiss steak was a great way for people to use inexpensive cuts of beef to make a great meal. This seemed to be mainly a Pennsylvania thing back in the day as when I got to California I never saw it on any menus. I got a hankering for it one day and made up a batch which I took to work with me for lunch the next day. When I was heating it up in the microwave, yes we had them even back then, my colleagues came wandering in to find out where that heavenly aroma was coming from.
Continue Reading: Recipe: Swiss steak makes for a delicious “retro” meal
Posted by James Sechrengost on 09/30, 2014 at 09:23 AM
When I was stationed in Southern California I went to my first Renaissance Fair. It was held on the fairgrounds where the US Festival back in the 80s was held in the Cajon Pass near San Bernardino CA. It was later the Blockbuster Pavilion and then something else. It was at the Renaissance Fair that I was introduced to Scottish Eggs.
I know, I know, the recipe is for Armadillo Eggs but you need a little background. This is the first time I ever had anything wrapped in sausage and fried. I mean who wouldn’t like a complete breakfast all in one item. Imagine a hard boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, rolled in bread crumbs, and deep fried or baked. So when I was visiting a friend in Texas he took me out to dinner. It was here I was introduced to Armadillo Eggs.
Continue Reading: Recipe: Armadillo Eggs put a deliciously spicy twist on Scottish eggs
Posted by James Sechrengost on 07/24, 2014 at 01:08 PM
Pasta has to be one of my true passions. I love it in all the shapes and forms it takes, from the lowly elbow macaroni to the lasagna noodle. Maybe this is because when I was small child we lived in a neighborhood that was predominantly made up of people of Italian descent. All my neighbors, including the parents of the kids I played with, introduced me to pasta at an early age. I learned all the wonderful things that you could do with pasta from the mighty lasagna to simple, yet elegant, fettuccini carbonara.
One of my favorite and fun pastas has to be the farfalle or bow tie pasta. It is firm and holds up well to cooking and has many hidden creases to hold on to the sauce. I love this pasta for different pasta salads as it holds up to being in dressing for hours without losing any of its chew and texture. Below is a recipe for kale and pasta salad that I hope you will enjoy.
Continue Reading: The perfect summer side: kale and pasta salad
Posted by James Sechrengost on 07/09, 2014 at 09:12 AM
I love baked potatoes. I love potato skins. I just don’t love the time it takes to make them when grilling. So my friends and I, while sitting around after a day of grilling, tried to come up with a recipe that would give us what we wanted without the hassle. I don’t drink and they do so as the beer flowed so did the ideas.
Posted by James Sechrengost on 07/03, 2014 at 08:11 AM
When I was stationed in Southern California I became interested in martial arts. In my quest for a good teacher I met a man named Pu Gill Gwon. Now to look at him you would not be impressed. He was barely over 5 feet tall and maybe 110-120 lbs. soaking wet.
But there was something about him though that grabbed my attention. A calm self-assuredness that seemed to express itself in everything he did. I got to know him and the more I knew the more impressed I became. I never became a student I became something better. I became his friend.
Continue Reading: Recipe: Cucumber kimchi a tasty variation on traditional Korean favorite
Posted by James Sechrengost on 06/25, 2014 at 09:00 AM
I love BBQ. I can’t deny it. People will tell you Kansas is best, others will tell you Memphis is best, others will say Carolina is best. You know what? They are all right. Each type of BBQ has its own particular something special to offer. So don’t be afraid to try a type you haven’t before. You may be surprised. I’ve cooked over wood fire, used smokers, gas grills, charcoal grills, you name it. Now I am not going to sit here and tell you one is better than the other. We each have what we have and use what we are used to. The only thing I have to say is don’t be afraid to try something different if you have the chance.
Food should be an adventure. Trying new foods and types of cooking is like a culinary journey. Taking you to faraway lands and experiencing new cultures through their foods and cooking styles. Food is one of the few things I can think of that crosses racial and ethnic boundaries. So go, try, experiment, and enjoy.
Continue Reading: Recipe: BBQ ribs, a summer classic
Posted by James Sechrengost on 06/03, 2014 at 09:54 AM
I love to make beef stew. On a rainy, blustery day, nothing is more comforting than sitting at the table eating beef stew and watching the rain. I used to freeze it so I had some on hand just to cheer me up when it would seem to rain for days on end.
When I used to go camping in the mountains with friends I would take along a big bag of frozen stew. By the end of the day there was nothing to do but throw it into the pot and wait until it had heated.
Continue Reading: Recipe: Beef stew, a great answer for our rainy days
Posted by James Sechrengost on 05/22, 2014 at 07:40 AM
When I was a young man I helped a friend build him and his wife a log cabin. It wasn’t one of the sprawling cabins you see on some of these new reality shows but it had three bedrooms, indoor plumbing, and electricity. I did most of the electrical work and a lot of heavy lifting moving the peeled timbers into place. Thank goodness we had chainsaws as I don’t see how those pilgrims ever got the work done using axes and hand adzes.
His wife brought us lunch every day and then stayed around and helped where she could. I look back fondly on that house, which is still standing in the San Bernardino Mountains, and the meals she prepared. One of the dishes she made was potato salad. I never was a huge fan of it, could take it or leave it, but when I tried hers I was hooked. She said to let them steam in the pot, which stopped the potato salad from being soggy and mushy. She gave me the recipe when I left and every time I make it I think of that log cabin and my friends.
Continue Reading: Recipe: Potato salad raises home-building memories
Posted by James Sechrengost on 05/13, 2014 at 09:45 AM
When I was still a young man my father handed me his rifle and one bullet. He said “bring a deer home or don’t come home.” Now to some that might seem cruel. To me it was a challenge. By the time my father said that, I was good with a rifle, actually very good. He was actually kidding. Well, sort of kidding, we really needed the meat.
So I traipsed out into the snow to get some meat. I came home a few hours later dragging a buck behind me. I always enjoyed hunting. The time in the woods by myself, the skill in tracking the game, testing myself, pushing the limits. After I got older and served and did some other things I lost my taste for hunting but not for venison. So when I can get my hands on some I love to make it in new and interesting ways. Here I have included my recipe for venison chili, crockpot style.
Posted by James Sechrengost on 12/02, 2013 at 09:30 AM
For me, fall always means changing colors, cooler temperatures, and soups. When my wife was alive we would love putting together a soup or stew, throwing it in a crockpot and heading out to enjoy the fall season. When we got back the whole house smelled of soup. We would warm up by the fire with our bowls of soup and a big slice of bread smothered in butter. To this day those are some of my fondest memories. So to me fall is soup and soup is love and comfort. Here is one of the recipes we used to make on those blustery days, squash and corn soup:
Continue Reading: Squash and corn soup perfect for blustery fall days
Posted by James Sechrengost on 11/18, 2013 at 10:37 AM
The first time I had apple dumplings I was seven. My uncle loved camping and this was the first time he asked me to go along. Now, he was my favorite uncle (shhhhh don’t tell the others) and getting to go with him had me excited for weeks before the trip. It was fall and the weather was turning colder so he wanted to get one last camping trip in before it started to snow. My uncle taught me all kinds of things about the woods and surviving and just enjoying nature. What I didn’t know was he had a favorite uncle too. Uncle Lloyd was old school and knew more about hunting and wood lore than I ever will and I’m a survival specialist. He did things around a camp without thinking that I never would have thought of to make life easier.
So when we went to go camping my uncle always made sure to stop off and visit with Lloyd before and after a camping trip to talk over where he was going and what he had seen. So we stopped off and they visited for an hour then we headed out to go camping. After a week in the woods I was ready to go home. I had learned a lot and had a lot of fun but the rock and twigs under my bed were winning and I wanted a real bed. So on our way home we stopped off to visit Lloyd. Now, I didn’t want to stop, I just wanted to go home. I didn’t want to not get invited back so I didn’t say anything but I fidgeted a lot, as kids will. Now his wife Dot noticed this and took me out to the kitchen for a bite.
What she sat before me was this large golden brown bowl of pure delight. APPLE DUMPLING! Why had I never seen one of these wonders before or even heard of them? I took my first bite and was hooked. The golden flaky pastry, the sweet glaze, the tender juicy apple and all the spices filled my mouth. Before I knew it my bowl was empty and like Oliver Twist I held out my bowl and said, “Please may I have another?” She laughed and put another in my bowl this time with a scoop of ice cream. How is it possible it was even better? Of course my uncle learned why I had never had one before. That much sweetness and an enclosed car combined with a long trip are not good combinations. I still love them and have included a recipe for them. Enjoy.
Continue Reading: Recipe: Apple dumplings warm the autumn soul
Posted by James Sechrengost on 11/12, 2013 at 09:35 AM
A friend introduced me to this grain and I was curious as to what kind of recipes I could come up with. He loves quinoa but how many times can you eat the same thing the same way. I sat down and came up with a few. The first is a version of rice pudding using quinoa. The second is a good vegetarian version of tacos.
Continue Reading: Not sure what to do with quinoa? Here’s two great recipes
Posted by James Sechrengost on 11/04, 2013 at 10:59 AM
A friend introduced me to this grain and I was curious as to what kind of recipes I could come up with. He loves quinoa but how many times can you eat the same thing the same way. I sat down and came up with a few. The first is a version of rice pudding using quinoa. The Second is a good vegetarian version of tacos.
Continue Reading: Not sure what to do with quinoa? Here’s two great recipes
Posted by James Sechrengost on 11/04, 2013 at 10:59 AM
When you live in Southern California you start to miss some of the things from home. The thing I missed the most was the seasons. So-Cal had two seasons Hot and less hot. For the winter season they had some cooler days with occasional rain. So for Spring we had green. For summer it was brown. For fall more brown. Winter was brown and dreary.
Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to shovel sunshine, so, I was happy for the most part. I did miss fall though. I love fall with its brilliant colors and cooler temperatures. It also has my favorite holiday, HALLOWEEN! Now I like the things that become available in fall for making pies such as apples, pears, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins. As you can imagine fresh apples were hard to find.
One day a friend of mine and I were talking about food, of course, when she asked me if I had ever been to Yucaipa. The blank look on my face must have told her everything she needed to know. So the next weekend she drove me over to Yucaipa, CA. Now Yucaipa has grown a lot since but back then they had apple orchards and had a fall festival celebrating apples. I was in my glory. Here was a place close by that had not only apples but seasonal leaf changes. For her help in finding this gem of the high desert I made her my Apple Cheesecake. I have included my recipe below but when ever I look at an apple my mind drifts back to that high desert city and it’s hidden treasure.
Posted by James Sechrengost on 10/21, 2013 at 09:29 AM
Now, you probably shouldn’t ask how these patties came to be. It’s one of those stories that you only tell the people you really know won’t judge you. Let’s just say too much time+ abundance of produce + friends + late night hunger = Spicy Pumpkin Patties
Posted by James Sechrengost on 10/15, 2013 at 11:09 AM
A number of years ago a friend of mine had a daughter who was battling cancer. She was going through a very hard time with treatment and became depressed. Now this young lady absolutely loved the movie “Ratatouille.”
So one day I stopped by with a bag of ingredients and two chef’s hats. On hers I had printed “REMY” with “Little Chef” in small letters right below it like the movie. On mine I had printed “GUSTEAU.” We spent the entire afternoon in the kitchen recreating the recipe for the title “Ratatouille.” Her and her mother both still bring up that day whenever I stop by to visit. So you see, it doesn’t take a lot of money to make a difference to someone. Just some of your time and willingness to make a difference in someone’s life. Here is the recipe that we came up with:
Continue Reading: Rataouille recipe a tribute to a young girl’s cancer battle
Posted by James Sechrengost on 10/02, 2013 at 09:38 AM
With the closing of the recent Garlic Festival in Pocono I was reminded of the many festivals I attended in Gilroy in SoCal. Now I am a garlic lover, not to the extreme I like garlic ice cream, but I do love the pungent little relative to the onion. What you didn’t know that PA had their own Garlic Festival? Check them out at http://www.poconogarlic.com/. We used to load up a van and head to the Gilroy Garlic Festival every year. You could smell the festival miles before you ever got there. Being the foodie I am I headed straight to the food booths. There was always some new and unique recipe I could pick up there.
Continue Reading: Garlic lover? Then try this garlic pot roast recipe…
Posted by James Sechrengost on 09/23, 2013 at 08:30 AM
When I was but a wee lad…okay, who am I kidding I was never a wee lad. How about…when I was a young child my grandmother used to make pierogi by the dozens. She would make potato and cheese, sauerkraut, ones stuffed with meat, and even dessert ones. Being the ever inquisitive child I was (okay, okay, being the pain in the neck, nosy, kid that I was) I always wanted to help.
Finally, when they thought I was old enough, they put me on filing duty. I was supposed to place one heaping spoon of filling in the middle of each pierogi shell. Well, after the initial “one spoon for the shell, one for me” method I actually managed to do about two dozen pierogi. With my ever expanding stomach and boredom, the filling wasn’t quite in the middle anymore but I was still working at it.
After another dozen, I came to realize this was more like work than play and didn’t want to do it anymore. My grandmother made me stay and finish the job. I got the lecture about not starting something unless I was willing to finish it. I still have lesson ingrained into me.
Continue Reading: Pierogi memories, plus great potato and cheese pierogi recipe
Posted by James Sechrengost on 09/18, 2013 at 10:08 AM
When I was a young lad I was in Sicily in the city of Palermo doing the tourist thing checking out the castles. After much walking around viewing the sights my tired feet and grumbling stomach reminded me I had not had lunch. I stopped in a small ristorante and had a dish similar to the recipe below. Years later I remembered the dish and recreated it from what I remembered. This recipe comes from a lot of trial and error, mostly error, until I got it to the point it closely matched my memory of the dish.
Continue Reading: Here’s two recipes to give you something to do with all those zucchinis
Posted by James Sechrengost on 08/15, 2013 at 09:19 AM
This is a great farmers market recipe. I got this recipe when I was working in a restaurant in Sun Valley, CA. The restaurant is long gone but this recipe carries on with me.
Continue Reading: Gazpacho, that famous summery cold soup
Posted by James Sechrengost on 07/28, 2013 at 10:21 PM
When I was a little kid our family didn’t have a lot of money and things were tight. My mom was a single mother and struggled to make ends meet like a lot of single mothers do. We lived near a farm and the farmer got to know us kids as we wandered over hill and dale exploring and just being kids. Sometimes he would give us odd jobs for which he paid us in eggs and vegetables out of his truck patch. The one thing I remember most was that he grew corn for feed. If he was out plowing and I knew he was going to be in the fields all day I would bring him some iced tea in a thermos or jug if I was heading out that way in my explorations. He started to leave a small corner of his field unplanted with field corn. He instead planted sweet corn or bread and butter corn there. He told us to pick as much as we needed. We never took advantage of his generosity but only took enough corn for a meal or two.
Continue Reading: Corny memories
Posted by James Sechrengost on 07/16, 2013 at 10:00 AM
When I was growing up one of the things my mother used to make was Porcupine Meatballs. I think one of the reasons I liked them so much is they were sort of a rite of passage. We knew that when we were allowed to help make the meatballs we were on our way to being grown up.
Continue Reading: Local Food Recipe: Porcupine meatballs
Posted by James Sechrengost on 07/01, 2013 at 11:15 AM
It’s getting to be that time of year. You know that time when you are out hiking and you’re keeping your eyes peeled for them, or waiting patiently at your local farmers market for them to arrive. It’s that time that strawberries can be found.
Continue Reading: Strawberry fields producing now
Posted by James Sechrengost on 06/21, 2013 at 08:30 AM
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