Monday, January 18, 2021

I'm selling my Junior League cookbook collection

Yes, it is time! I don't have space in my lakehouse for my >1000 vintage cookbook collection.    It makes me sad but it is time.  They are priced to sell and offer media mail shipping.  

Here are my current Junior League Cookbooks available

San Francisco a la Carte - Junior League of San Francisco

RSVP - Junior League of Portland Maine

You can check out all my listings here


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Library Bar Chili


Years ago, a blog reader asked me if I could track down the Library Bar in Houghton's vintage recipe for chili that was served in the 1980s during the MTU Winter Carnival All Nighter Statue building competition.   It was served all night out of the back of a van by the original owner of the place, Jon Davis.  (to read a little more about him and also check out my version on their famous recipe for Swiss Onion Au Gratin soup, click here).   I kept asking around and old Library Bar employees didn't remember much except "it was a lot of cans".   I finally was able to track it down from a Copper Country fb group member who was a student at MTU and a member of the Undergraduate Student Government in the 1990s.   She was given the recipe after the bar burned down and they were unable to make it for the all nighter contest, so the USG stepped up and made it in the student union kitchen that year.  

Winter Carnival All Nighter in the 1980s was a bit different than it is in current times.   Pre pandemic, campus now has tons of activities besides and lots of student groups selling food and refreshments and campus police busting anyone drinking alcohol.   In my day, I can remember my sorority using our dogsled to pull around a half barrel of beer through town for "refreshment".   Here's a cool picture of MTU students from the 1960s using their dogsled as intended.

The only food available was the Library Bar's chili, if you were lucky enough to catch the van cruising around serving it.    The chili was also on the menu as "Chili with Onions" and it was a great way to warm up on a cold night.   

This year's Winter Carnival is still happening, despite the pandemic, but student groups aren't allowed to sell food during the all nighter to minimize crowds.  Also, there is a first ever alumni statue building contest!  So I figured it was time for me to figure out the chili recipe so students and alumni can make it for themselves.    The recipe I got was institutional sized, I had to scale it down for individual use.   Also, we like our food spicy, so I felt some cayenne pepper was in order.  Leave it out if you would like! I think what makes this recipe unique was the use of green peppers and celery salt, two ingredients not often seen in most red chili recipes.  And yes, it is a lot of canned goods! Here's my take on it:

Friday, January 01, 2021

Hoppin' John for 2021


Not leaving anything to chance for this new year, I actually stayed awake until midnight last night: and made the family eat a spoonful of Hoppin' John. to make sure we have good luck this year.   We are at the lakehouse, so I got some black eyed peas the Keweenaw Coop, which I just joined in preparation for our move north for good in March.    Besides the usual coop stuff, members are able to order in bulk of items they want, even if the store doesn't carry them.   I realized I had to join if I was going to be able to find what I need locally here in the Copper Country.   For example Nueske's bacon.   I've been spoiled by having Nueske's bacon at the ready anytime I want in Ann Arbor.   I was thrilled to discover the Keweenaw Coop carried it.   I also got some dried black eyed peas and the texture was great.   I'm sure they go through their stock quicker than the regular grocery store.   I also added some kale this year because if there was ever a need for kale in the world, now is the time!  And since I had some red onion and hothouse tomatoes, I decided to top it with some fresh vegetables.   My New Years Resolution this year (as it is every year, I think) is to EAT MORE VEGETABLES.  

2021 Hoppin' John 

1 lb. black eyed peas

1/2 lb. bacon, diced

2 large onions, diced

8 cloves garlic, minced

1 t. cayenne pepper (more or less depending on your spice tolerance, we like things spicy)

Ham bone or a smoked ham hock (I used the last of the Dearborn Ham I made for Christmas)

1 bunch (or more) of kale, stemmed and cut into 1 inch  pieces

kosher salt to taste

Optional garnishes:  diced tomato, red onion, bell peppers, etc

Soak beans overnight in enough water  and a couple tablespoons of kosher salt to cover then by a couple inches. In a dutch oven, brown bacon and drain off fat, add onions and saute until soft. Add garlic and saute further until fragrant. Don't burn it. Add cayenne . Add ham bone, beans, and  water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil and then turn stove down to low and cook beans until tender, 1-2 hours.   Remove ham bone or hock and dice up meat and add back to pot along with the kale.   Heat until kale is tender.  Season with salt as needed. Garnish with vegetables.

The start of 2021 is going to be a different one for me.  Usually I spend New Year's Day trying to dig out of work email and getting ready to head back to the office.    I also used to bring leftover Hoppin' John to work for lunches.   But this year, today officially marks the first day of my retirement!  I'm happily free of that typical New Year's Day dread, thinking ahead of all the work that needs to get done.   I would count the days (and they seemed to crawl) until the long MLK weekend.    January was always such a busy time at work because we had to performance reviews and the auto show and getting back to it all.   

It feels odd that there is no longer a winter auto show!  For an automotive engineer, going to the industry preview was the equivalent of attending your high school reunion.  The industry preview days were for us to go in and benchmark the competition.   There was no fancy cocktails and entertainment and tuxedos like the glamorous Auto Show Preview (aka the "Auto Prom"):

Andy and me at the Auto Show Preview aka Auto Prom

Instead it was a lot of laying on the ground under vehicles and taking pictures for us chassis engineers.    It was where you run into everyone you've ever worked with over the course of your career.   It was a nerdy "Old Home Day" for automotive geeks like me.  The auto business gets to be a rather small world after you've done it for 30+ years

Me proud of my work on tires and wheels on the 2015 F150

We'd all end up going out to lunch or a happy hour downtown after and get to hang out with people we don't get to see very often.    Time to catch up and find out who is doing what?  I am wondering now that the Detroit Auto Show is moving outside and in the summer if that will happen anymore?  Regardless, it wouldn't be a part of my life anymore anyway.   

Today's New Year's Day lacks the usual dread!  I've got plans to do a little snowshoeing with old friends and then a New Year bonfire with our lakehouse neighbors.  Happy 2021!