Sometimes… 1: Demonic Control

Manual of Field Geology

A standard college level Field Geology textbook

Jeanne and I volunteer at our local library sorting books for the semi-annual Friends of the Library book sale.  These are books that have been withdrawn from the library collection for various reasons or donated books that citizens have given to our Friends group for our book sale. As we sort the books into one of 46 different categories we occasionally come across something of note; something amusing, maybe shocking or possibly just puzzling. This is the first of a series of occasional posts about those finds, and that we will present without judgement and with little comment.

Sometimes… we just find stuff.

Manual of Field Geology and the Forbidden Secrets of Demonic ControlManual of Field Geology and the Forbidden Secrest of Demonic Control

Justified, Corn Slaw and Bourbon

Raylan & Boyd

Raylan & Boyd

Last night we joined friends, Richard and Patricia, for the finale of Justified. If you are not familiar with Justified, it is a series on FX and that is based on a story by Elmore Leonard. Briefly it’s the “adventures” of Raylan Givens, a Federal Marshal who is part lawman, part killer (in the name of the law of course) and Boyd Crowder, all around drug dealer, bank robber, preacher, general bad guy and killer (not in the name of the law). They are also charmers, sweet-talkers and skinny as hell. For the past five seasons we have joined our friends for dinner, alternating cooking duties, and have watched the happenings in the hollers and the mine and the towns of Harlan County Kentucky. It has been a fun ride.

Last night our dinner for the final shootout was sandwiches and slaw. Not just any sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches. Not just any grilled cheese sandwiches, smoked turkey, caramelized fennel, gala apple jam and Gruyère grilled cheese sandwiches. Oh lord, were they good. Our contribution was salad and Curt decided to go with a corn slaw from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More cookbook. We never relayed to each other what we were making but the two couldn’t have gone together better if we planned it that way. Here’s the slaw with a few variations.

Corn slaw

Corn slaw

CORN SLAW

7 Tbls white wine vinegar
4.25 cups shredded cabbage
3 small carrots, peeled and cut into fine strips
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
3 cups fresh corn (or frozen if you don’t have access to fresh)
2 red chiles, finely chopped
We did not have red chiles but our substitute was really good. We used a Tbls of CENTO cherry pepper relish, chopped even finer.
1 1/3 cups cilantro leaves
2/3 cup mint leaves
olive oil
Salt & pepper

Put the vinegar and a scant cup of water in a small saucepan along with one Tbls of salt. Bring to boil then remove from heat. Place the cabbage and carrots in a bowl and pour in 2/3 of the salty liquid. In a separate bowl, pour the remaining liquid over the onion and set both bowls aside. After 20 minutes, rinse the vegetables and onion well, pat dry. Place together in a salad bowl.

If you are using fresh corn, grill it in a pan, cool and cut from cob and add to the salad bowl. Or cook your frozen corn till just al dente. Cool and put in salad bowl.

Cherry pepper relish

Cherry pepper relish

DRESSING

3 1/2 Tbls mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbls lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together, pour over the salad and stir gently. Add the chile, cilantro and mint, along with a grind of pepper. Give it another stir and serve.

Notes: I’ve mentioned what we did for chiles. We were short on corn so we only had about 1 1/2 cups in our salad but the full amount of corn would have been great. Also we used a little more carrot.

So what does the bourbon in my title refer to? Well, Justified is set in Kentucky after all (the bourbon state of America) and they certainly drank enough bourbon in the course of five seasons. So as the last episode progressed and certain deeds were done and particular characters bit the dust we sipped our Knob Creek straight bourbon whiskey. And when the final credits ran we tossed back our final shot.

Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Let the Birding Begin!

statesignTruth be told we have been birding since January 1 when we looked out our window and saw downy woodpeckers and juncos and chickadees sitting on our bird feeders. But now we are on the edge of the spring migration and all those birds that went south for the winter (smart birds) are starting their trek north, back to the breeding grounds. So if you are a birder, you need to get out a couple of times a week this time of year to glimpse these travelers. Many will stay in Wisconsin, many will continue on. Catching a sight of the ones who will head further north is the goal.

Weather of course plays a big roll and many areas got snow yesterday and the birds don’t like it anymore than we do. Snow doesn’t stay long this time of year but its still cold at night and the insects aren’t waking up yet. The birds who enjoy a bug or two for dinner will be coming much later. Fortunately, we have a lot of open water right now which makes this a prime time to find waterfowl.

It was mild today by Wisconsin’s standards ( lower 50’s, little wind) so we drove out to a big marsh near here. They recently put up a new sign. The snow was gone by the time we arrived.

sign

If you decide to try a trip like this make sure you have binoculars. Why? Because most birds don’t sit in the ditch right next to the car. Oh, some do, sometimes. But this is usually your view.

water

This is pretty close to what you see with the naked eye. But put the binoculars up to your eye and wa-la!!! You can see differences in those specks and actually identify them. This next picture was shot with a zoom lens and then I cropped the heck out of it on the computer. But if you were looking through your binocs you would see something like this and it would be less grainy.

from left to right: American Coot, Redhead, Gadwall, American Coot

from left to right: American Coot, Redhead, Gadwall, American Coot

Here’s another shot of the marsh.

marsh

And here is my camera shot, cropped and enlarged.

ring-necked ducks

ring-necked ducks

Yeah, I know what you are saying, where is the ring on their necks? Got me. This one confuses me every time I see it. It has a ring around his bill but his name is ring-neck. Just roll with it. Trust me there are a lot of oddly named species. For instance, you can hardly see the pale pink belly on the Red-bellied woodpecker who happens to have a large red patch on the back of his head but ‘redheaded’ woodpecker was already taken.

Final tally today of new birds for this year (not lifers just the first sightings for this year):

– 8 – American Wigeon, Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, Ring-necked duck, Eastern Phoebe, White Pelican, American Coot, Great Blue Heron.

Additional sightings today but not firsts: – 14 – Cardinal, Tree Sparrow, Canada Goose, Mallard, Kestrel, Red-wing Blackbird, European Starling, Pigeon, Grackle, Redhead duck, Sandhill Crane, Turkey Vulture, American Robin, Bald Eagle.

Stay-tuned. We have two birding trips scheduled for May. Early May – Mississippi Flyway/Western Wisconsin. Late May – New Brunswick, Canada.

Another Turn of the Page: My Madness (it just happens to be March)

“There were two sets of double doors leading out of the antechamber, one marked STACKS and the other TOMES. Not knowing the difference between the two, I headed to the ones labeled STACKS. That was what I wanted. Stacks of books. Great heaps of books. Shelf after endless shelf of books.”
Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

 

stack-of-booksI love stacks of books too. I’ve been reading since I was a kid. My Mom would take me to the branch library where we lived in Chicago and we would both get books to read. ( My sister, not so much). I probably got my love of reading from my mother who was always reading a book as far back as I can remember. But I don’t think I really fell in love till I visited the main Chicago Public Library at Adams and Lasalle in downtown Chicago (in the 60’s). There were beautiful mosaics on the walls and ceiling, reading rooms and a lot of books. It is now the Chicago Cultural Center and its replacement is the Harold Washington Library Center (built in 1991). The next library that I loved was the old Swen Parson library at Northern Illinois University where I did my graduate work. I recall there being narrow metal stairs that went up into some of the stacks. The aisles for the books were narrow and sort of dim. By today’s standards it would be old, creepy and the perfect place for a murder mystery. But I thought it was an adventure. You never met too many people in the stacks so you felt like the whole place was yours. I remember browsing in the sciences and finding great resources and images for my art work. So my March Madness is a book madness and I think my fellow book group people are similarly afflicted. We once again gathered on the second Thursday of the month and this is what we read.

march1. The Undertow by Jo Baker (2011) 352 pages. Jo Baker was the subject of our author presentation this month probably because many of us have read her book Longbourn and enjoyed it. Undertow was her first published novel and it is a story of four generations of a family from WW I to the present.

2. Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand (2014) 256 pages. After not having great luck with holiday reading, Pete finally found a Christmas book he truly enjoyed. Winter Street is the name of the inn that Kelley Quinn owns with his 2nd wife Mitzi. Between them they have four grown children with problems of their own. Kelley is looking forward spending the holidays with them until he catches Mitzi kissing Santa Claus, and not under the mistletoe.

3. Behind the Scenes by Judi Dench (2014) 256 pages. The autobiography of British actress, Dame Judi Dench. A candid blend of reminiscences and photos.

4. The Pearl by John Steinbeck (1947) 87 pages. Our classic of the month. Really a novella, The Pearl is the re-telling of a Mexican folk tale. The story is of Kino, a poor pearl diver, who finds an enormous pearl. He sees it as the path to dignity for his family and an education for his son, but it brings tragedy instead. This was a pretty quick read so our reviewer also read Tortilla Flat by the same author. Tortilla Flat has more humor and is a nice contrast to The Pearl and before you judge the attitudes and the language, remember it was written in 1935.

5. The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward (2015) 270 pages. In this novel, Carla is a girl being raised by her grandmother in Honduras.  After Carla’s grandmother dies she is left to care for herself and her younger brother. The area they are living in has become quite dangerous so Carla decides to leave Honduras and attempts to make the treacherous journey across the border. A very timely story and one that might give you a different view of immigration.

6. The Swimmer by Joakim Zander (2013) 432 pages. This debut novel by Swedish author Zander, is written in a similar style to Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo but the story is more on par with the spy novels of Ludlum and Follett. Fast-paced and filled with suspense and subterfuge, you might just read all night.

7. Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening: How I learned the Unexpected Joy of Green Thumb and an Open Heart by Carol Wall (2014) 294 pages. Probably the most unusual book in today’s mix. Not a gardening book, not a self-help book, but a memoir of an unusual friendship between two people who seemingly, on the surface, have nothing in common.

8. A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan (2014) 288 pages. You won’t remember Mr. Heming, he was your realtor, but Mr. Heming keeps a copy of the key to every house he has sold. He then “visits” when no one is home. Eating some food, looking through their things, their papers. Sometimes he hides in the crawl spaces and attics to listen and view them through the cracks. To him this is all normal because he is doing no harm. Definitely creepy.

And there you have the March books. As a bonus feature I have added pictures from the two libraries I spoke about earlier.

Staircase to the reading room and stacks of the Chicago Public Library

Staircase to the reading room and stacks of the Chicago Public Library

 

Stacks in the Swen Parson Library, NIU

Stacks in the Swen Parson Library, Northern Illinois University

My Actual Pi Day Pie

pi on pieA couple of days ago I told you about a pie I made and I tied my story to Pi Day however TODAY is the actual Pi Day.
So in honor of The Pi Day I made a Shepherd’s Pie.

pie7I don’t know why I decided to make a Shepherd’s Pie, maybe because it has a good name. It originally was called Cottage Pie referring to a rural dwelling. And lamb is traditionally used because shepherds herd sheep not cows or chickens. Whatever, once I made that decision I had to locate a recipe. I tried some of my own cookbooks but Martha was putting a rutabaga mash on top of hers and Jamie Oliver and Julia didn’t even list it in their books. So next up, the internet. Of course there are a bazillion recipes to choose from so I went to a few of my standby sites and settled on Epicurious because  1) traditional mashed potatoes on top and  2) ground lamb, which I already had in the freezer (some recipes called for ground beef). Being super easy was a third benefit. Frankly, most Shepherd’s Pie recipes are pretty easy.

The Sheep Herder’s Dinner

Ingredients

Ingredients

1 Tbls vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 pound ground lamb
1 cup beef broth (or chicken)
1 Tbls tomato paste
1 tsp rosemary
1 Tbls chopped Italian parsley
1 cup frozen peas
2 lbs russet potatoes (peeled and cut into chunks)
6 Tbls unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk (any fat content)
salt to taste

Preheat  oven to 375.
1. Bring the potatoes to a boil in salted water. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
2. While potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a large saute pan, then add the onion, carrot and meat. Cook until browned, about 8 – 10 minutes.
3. Drain the fat and add the broth, the tomato paste and the herbs. Simmer until the juices thicken, about 10 minutes, then add the peas.
4. Pour the mixture into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Set aside.
pie2

5. Mash the cooked potatoes with butter, milk and salt. Spread them over the meat mixture, then rake a fork over the top so it looks like a plowed field.

pie3

6. Bake until golden, 30 -35 minutes. Need it to be more golden? Put it under the broiler for a minute or two, keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

pie5

And that’s Shepherd’s Pie. Pretty easy and pretty tasty.

Plated serving.

Plated serving.

This recipe serves 6 statistically average people or 3.14 hungry shepherds so the two of us have a lot leftover. I’m guessing it will reheat well but it won’t look as pretty since it has to be repackaged to go in the freezer. But I was cook tonight so Curt is in charge of cleanup. I’m sure he will think of something.

Hope you had a Happy Pi Day. Did you make pie?

Pie (Pi) Day

“Saturday, March 14, 2015 will be a very special Pi Day – one that only comes along once every 100 years! This year, not only does the month and day of the date (3/14) correspond to the digits in the mathematical constant, the digits in the year do too. If you write the date in the month/day/year format, then the digits of the date 3/14/15 correspond to the first 5 digits of pi: 3.1415.
But that is not all. This year’s Pi Day goes a step further – at 9:26:53 am and 9:26:53 pm, the date and the time will exactly correspond to the first 10 digits of pi: 3.141592653.”  -thanks to TimeandDate.com

When I read that I thought it was pretty amazing but you know what is more amazing?

Pie!

sliceof pieMy son called today because he wants to make a steak and kidney pie for a Pi Party he is attending on Saturday. He usually calls his Dad, the chef around here, when he has a cooking question. Curt tried to help him out even though he has never made a steak and kidney pie. Bottom line the hardest task will be finding kidneys.  But we sent him recipes anyway, for steak & kidney pie, along with Beef Bourguignonne Pie and Cock-a-Leekie Pie. Nathan said he already had a recipe for a cheese pie, not a quiche, which he was going to try in addition to the S & K pie. Sounded interesting so we said if it turns out send us a picture…and the recipe.

Some of the recipes we sent him came from my February issue of Bon Appeitit magazine which gave me a head start on my pie making last week when I made a “Carmelized Garlic, Spinach and Cheddar Tart” from the same issue. Except, I substituted onion for the garlic. The garlic was supposed to be the hero of this dish (and I like garlic) but three heads of garlic just wasn’t getting me excited. So, after wresting the kitchen from my husband’s clutches, I pretty much followed this recipe except for the onion, the creme fraiche and the fancy crust. If you wish to see the original recipe it is linked above. Below is my variation.

pie1Onion, Spinach, Cheddar Tart (quiche)

Pillsbury pie crust (because I just don’t have my Grandmother’s ambition)
4 large eggs
1 large onion (cut into wedges)1 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbls balsamic vinegar
1 Tbls pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp dried rosemary or (1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary if you have fresh)
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme ( I had fresh thyme )
freshly grd black pepper
6 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups baby spinach (torn in pieces)
3/4 C sour cream
3/4 C heavy cream

Unroll one of the Pillsbury crusts and line a 9″ pie pan. Turn up the edges and crimp with a fork. Line with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans and bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. I crimped aluminum foil on the edges so they wouldn’t dry out or over bake, the one problem I have with pre-made dough. If crust bottom is not dry after 20 min. put it in for about 5 more minutes without the paper and beans. Remove, let cool.

Meanwhile put the onion wedges and olive oil in a pan and cook till the onions start to soften and turn a light brown. The wedges will fall apart but still will be in bigger pieces than if you cut slices. Add vinegar and 3/4 -1 cup water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer till onion is really tender. Add maple syrup, rosemary, thyme and salt and pepper. Cook until liquid is syrupy but there will still be onion pieces present, maybe 5 minutes.

Take your cooled crust and scatter the cheese over the bottom, top with the spinach. Whisk the sour cream, the cream and the 4 eggs in a medium bowl, season with salt and pepper. Pour over spinach…it does fit. I was at first unsure and only used three eggs and then realized I needed the fourth. Add the onion mixture evenly on top.

Bake at 350 till custard is set and golden brown in spots about 40-45 minutes. I put foil on the edges again for part of the time. Cool on wire rack.

a serving of pie

a serving of pie

Because of the sour cream the custard will be very soft, not firm like a straight egg custard, but trust me, it is cooked through and tastes yummy.

For Saturday, official Pi Day, I am planning on making Shepherd’s Pie. That is if I can reserve my spot in the kitchen.

What a Difference a Day (or two) Makes

Winter. Snow. Bitter cold.

We were tired of it. Just when you got a normal temp day (for us that was the upper 20’s) Bam! the next day it was high of 10 with a wind chill of -20. End of February, early March might produce snow but the bitter cold was just tiring. We even had a frozen water pipe this year. Then, just when we were at the end of our patience, the trend broke. We were promised normal March temps, 30’s, which turned into 40’s, which almost got to 50 today. When these “warm” days were announced I decided to take some pictures to record the change. It didn’t take long. Below is the change from Friday to Sunday. I took my pictures at 5:15 pm each day, with Daylight Saving Time intervening.The first sequence is the large field across the road from our house. The second sequence is the front of our house.

Friday,March 6, 5:15 pm, CDT

Friday, March 6, 5:15 pm, CDT

Saturday, March 7, 5:15 pm, CDT

Saturday, March 7, 5:15 pm, CDT

Sunday, March 8, 5:15pm, Central DST

Sunday, March 8, 5:15pm, Central DST

 

Mar. 6,7,8 - 5:15 pm

Mar. 6,7,8 – 5:15 pm

Granted we haven’t had snow like Boston, which is pretty weird since this is Wisconsin, so the snow melt has gently seeped into the ground. No floods. One year though we did have huge amounts of snow and that field across the way became a pond. It was a little later into Spring and that water attracted migrating birds. We had our own viewing station from the comfort of our home. This year it looks like a hike in the woods will be required.

So cheer up points east of us, the warmer weather is on its way.

Another Turn of the Page: More Snowbirds and Jack

“In the dime stores and bus stations/ People talk of situations/ Read books, repeat quotations/ Draw conclusions on the wall”
Bob Dylan

shelfWell if I thought last month was sparse, member-wise, this month was even thinner. A few more birds flew south to escape the winter deep freeze. We did have a new person but not really. Let me explain. When I arrived there was a man standing at the table presumably asking about the group. This is not unusual, we get interested people and we welcome any and all who are readers who want to share their books. I went to get coffee and upon my return, discovered that he decided to join us. He had a book in hand so I figured he came prepared. After introductions were made, he was Jack, Bea did the author talk about John Irving. The roundtable was next and I elected to go counterclockwise to save Jack from being the first to speak. I didn’t want to put him on the spot. After our third member had shared her book, another man arrived and tapped Jack on the shoulder. This was Jack’s ride and it was time to go. I told Jack I was sorry we hadn’t gotten to him and did he quickly want to talk about his book?

Now here’s the weird part, he didn’t want to talk about his book but instead told us a tale ‘about being outside the Two Rivers Bus Station in December and meeting a woman who needed a place to stay and she was a looker, and came home with him and is still there and how cool a woman like that would be interested in him….’ and then he left. We all looked at each other with that ‘Huh?’ look on our faces. Ellie, who had been sitting next to him, said he smelled like he had drunk a six-pack for breakfast. I bet John Irving could turn that experience into an interesting novel.

Oh well, on to our books. Only six this month since Jack wouldn’t share his.

february1. In One Person by John Irving (2011) 425 pages. John Irving was the author of the month and Bea presented his body of work but I decoded to feature this one since it is his most recent. It is the story of Bill, a bisexual, who as an older man looks back at his life, his relationships, his upbringing in order to analyze how he came to be who he is. (I just loved the cover.)

2. Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General
by Bill O’Reilly (2014) 304 pages. This continues O’Reilly’s “series” of books preceded by Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy and Killing Jesus. Patton died in a mysterious car accident. This book takes you through the final years of the war and relates the suspicions and conspiracy theories surrounding Patton’s death. Our reviewer thought the book readable, interesting and well-researched.

3. Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film by Glenn Kurtz (2014) 432 pages. Glenn Kurtz finds a homemade travel film made by his grandfather in 1938 that includes 3 minutes of film shot in the village of Nasielsk, Poland. These three minutes are the only known moving images of this town whose Jewish population of 3,000 was be reduced by the Holocaust to 100 people. Part of the author’s search to solve this mystery begins when a woman, viewing the 3 minute film in the Holocaust Museum, recognizes her grandfather as a thirteen year old boy.

4. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann (2005) 351 pages. “Z” is supposed to be the long, lost city of some South American civilization. Think El Dorado. Many explorers in the early 20th C searched for it but none as earnestly as British Colonel Percy Fawcett. The author tells the story of Percy’s many travels into the jungle, where he ultimately disappears, as well as the author’s own trek to discover any evidence of Fawcett’s remains or of Z. Though fascinating, his book is not for the squeamish, because along with these trips comes malaria, yellow fever, swarms of blood-sucking insects, snakes, poisonous frogs and of course the inevitable thirst and near starvation. All described in vivid detail.

5. American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle (2011) 381 pages. This is the autobiography that was used as the basis for the current box-office smash film, American Sniper. “Gripping and
unforgettable, Kyle’s masterful account of his extraordinary battlefield experiences ranks as one of the great war memoirs of all time.” -Goodreads

6. Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton (2015) 466 pages. Fourteen-year-old Kevin and his mother are sent to spend the summer with a beloved grandfather in eastern Kentucky after the death of his younger brother has left Mom traumatized. His dad frequently hints that Kevin is in some way responsible for the tragic accident. Luckily, his father heads back to Indiana, leaving Kevin to have the most unforgettable, summer of his life.

 

Dinner was Served

It has been a week since Curt and I were shopping and cleaning and prepping for our Foodie Group dinner. But last Saturday did finally arrive. There were a few minor blips like forgetting the salad forks (my husband suddenly turned into Emily Post as the salad was served) and not spreading the vegetables out on the dinner plates (that remaining empty area next to the potatoes looked like we missed something). But everything tasted good and there was a lot of lively conservation and laughter, so I think it was a success.

We got so caught up in the cooking and plating and serving that I didn’t take any pictures but here is my table setting. It was fun having the dinner on Valentine’s Day.

tableAnd I know I was being coy about the menu last week but now that all is finished, this is what was served.

UntitledThe salad was very good, the potatoes were interesting, the carrots and beets could have been more attractive though they tasted good, the meat was fine but not special and maybe a little overdone. I could have had a 2nd and a 3rd of dessert but restrained myself. But in my opinion, the star of the evening was the chowder. Curt based the chowder on an escargot/mushroom appetizer he had at Le Petit Chatelet when we were in Paris. This restaurant is right next to the famous “Shakespeare and Company Bookstore.” You can get a glimpse of it in the last seconds of Woody Allen’s movie, “Midnight in Paris.”

credit: Paris for Epicureans, 2014

credit: Paris for Epicureans, 2014

In Paris, Curt’s soup/chowder appetizer arrived with a puff pastry on top and was quite amazing.  Hidden under the puff pastry crust was a rich escargot and mushroom chowder.

Escargot en Croute: le Petit Chatelet, Paris

Escargot en Croute: le Petit Chatelet, Paris

We tried doing the puff pastry top but that was pretty much a failure so our version had puff pastry croutons instead. And since snails are not a widely shared taste treat in our group, Curt used side-stripe shrimp and sea scallops instead. It was truly wonderful. Sorry about the lack of photo but here is the recipe we served.

Seafood & Wild Mushroom Chowder after le Petit Chatelet
serves 6

1 quart corn stock
Mushrooms: 1/2 c. Chanterelle, 1/4 c. Morel,
3/4 c. Chicken of the Woods, 3/4 c. Brown Beech  – all cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large shallot, minced
4 large sea scallops, quartered
12 small shrimp, we used side stripe
1 c. heavy cream
3 c. seafood stock (Swanson’s or homemade)
white pepper
salt
saffron, pinch
2 T. flour
2 T. olive oil
2 T. butter
1 dash hot pepper sauce, like Frank’s

Saute chanterelles in 2 T olive oil till tender, add 2 T. flour and cook to make roux. Add 1 T. butter & remaining mushrooms and saffron.  Cook I minute, stirring. Add corn & seafood stock. Stir to incorporate roux. Simmer 20 minutes. (to this point all can be done ahead)

Add scallops, shrimp & hot pepper sauce, cook 5 minutes.
Add cream & 1 T. butter, bring to a light simmer.

Serve with puff pastry croutons & a drizzle of shellfish oil.

For croutons, just buy a commercial puff pastry. Cut dough into 3/4 inch squares and bake according to directions on the box.

Shellfish oil is made by combining a pile of shrimp, lobster. or crab shells in a sauce pan with 1/2 C. grape seed or canola oil, 1Tbs. tomato paste and 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika.  Saute for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit until cool.  Strain out the shell bits and reserve the oil for garnish on chowder or soup.

Note: We had corn stock that we made at the end of last summer from fresh corn cobs after we cut off the corn kernels for freezing.

Hope your Valentine’s Day was as fun as ours.