From Screen Saver

"My mother’s mother was a great cook.  My mother’s unwillingness to cater to children’s desire for processed foods infused with sugar and fat had come from fairly stern stock.  Grammy Lill cooked a rump roast that was the epitome of well done roast beef.  Her standing rib roast was the epitome of rare roast beef.  Unlike my mother, Grammy Lill believed in dessert most days.  But they were mostly fruit pies. They had both a bottom and a top crust. She didn’t believe in cobbler. There was just enough sugar in them to set off the flavor of the apples, blackberries, or cherries.  She didn’t believe in peach pies.  That’s probably why my mother excelled in making peach pies. She also made chocolate pudding from scratch.  They were dark, chocolaty and wonderfully semi-sweet.  Grammy Lill believed in desserts but she kept a tight lid on the sugar."



What Works For Me

  • Grammy Lill's Spareribs
  • Shrimp Omelet
  • Hangtown Fry
  • Steak
  • Tuna Salad
  • Joe's Special
  • José's Special
  • Significant Cheeseburger
  • Poulet Mexicain
  • Eggs Benedict
  • French Dressing
  • Chicken Curry
  • Bloody Mary
  • Joe's Tacos
  • Joe's Meatloaf
  • Joe's Enchiladas
  • Ann Claire's Pico
  • SOS
  • Grammy Lill's Potato Cakes
  • Davis' Dressing
  • Apricot Fried Pies
  • Chicaoji Shrimp Sandwich

Grammy Lill's Spareribs

In Screen Saver I recount the wonderful cooks that I had providing me with food when I was young: my mother, Grammy McKeehan, my father and Grammy Lill.  Some of the things I mention from Grammy Lill's repertoire are well done rump roast beef, rare prime rib roast beef and various wonderful fruit pies.  Here is a recipe for something that I didn't mention.  It's so good and so simple that it needs to be promulgated.


Pork Spareribs (I get the twos side pack from Costco and cut them down to individual serving sizes and freeze them for later use.)
Caraway Seeds
Salt (if you need it)
Pepper ( if you need it)


Pre-heat the oven to 380˚. 
Put the ribs in a baking pan and sprinkle liberally with caraway seeds.
When the oven is up to temperature put the ribs in the oven and leave them until they are smelling really good and a little brown and bubbling.  When the entire surface is exuding tiny bubbles the ribs are done. This usually takes a little over an hour, but the thickness of the slab will make the exact time variable.  Serve with steamed broccoli or sautéed spinach and a salad (see that recipe on another tab).  I have often thought about using the drippings to make a kind of gravy, but have never done it.  If one were to cook an entire slab - or both of them - I would think that one would be compelled to try the gravy, because wasting the amount of high quality gravy makings would be tantamount to sin.  If that were to be done one would need mashed potatoes (see that recipe on another tab).


Shrimp Omelet

In Screen Saver, in the story about Spokane Tom - the only irrationally mean manager I ever encountered - the story wanders to a tavern above the hill from downtown Spokane.  That day I had a few wines and a huge laugh about Spokane Tom with Kim, a fellow manager in the IBM branch office.
One time later, when Kim and his wife Janet spent a morning on Loon, Mysti's and my 25 foot Searay cruiser, I made shrimp omelets.  Janet is one of the best cooks I have ever known.  She took one bite of the omelet, got a quizzical look and said, "this is the best omelet I have ever eaten".


Fresh Oregon Cocktail Shrimp
Three eggs
Whipping Cream or Sour Cream
One Quarter of a Ripe Avocado
Half Cup of Grated Cheddar
Olive Oil


Break the eggs in a bowl and add a little whipping cream or a glob of sour cream and beat the eggs.  If you use sour cream it takes more beating to get the mixture smooth.  Put some olive oil in an omelet pan and bring it to heat on a  fairly high heat.  As soon as you can smell the olive oil - less than two minutes - pour the eggs in the pan and with a spatula keep pushing and lifting the mixture as it solidifies.  Tip the pan back and forth as you are doing this to let the uncooked mixture pour down and underneath the more cooked egg and onto the pan.  When there isn't any more very runny egg on top turn the heat down some and put a lid on to let the steam firm up the still runny top of the egg.  When it's firm enough to get the spatula underneath the eggs lift it up like a pancake and flip it over and turn up the heat to finish cooking that side.  This takes less than a minute. Then flip it back so the browned side is down again.  Turn the heat to low and put the cheddar on the eggs and cover with a lid until the cheddar melts.  When it's melted, put on the shrimp and the salsa.  If the salsa is out of the refrigerator you should have heated it separately.  Slice the avocado into sections and lay across the other stuff and then fold the eggs and put on a warmed plate.  A bloody Mary is a pretty good idea to allow you to cope with the stress involved with this whole production.



Hangtown Fry

In Screen Saver I recount the story of the time that the hangover from a Cotton Picker's party left me with a near fatal hangover.  I came back from my death bed by drinking stars.  A glass of coke with a straw magically infused life back into me.  According to my wife, Mysti, the hangtown fry has a similar medicinal capability.

I have never used the dish for that purpose.  I just think they are about as good a way to eat oysters and eggs as it is possible to imagine.  The trick is to just barely cook the oysters.  As soon as there is as much oyster juice as olive oil they are probably ready.  When the eggs get added to that mixture it creates something not far from an oyster soufflé.  The oysters are just an added bonus.  The ingredients are for one serving.  Multiplication by the number of servings you want will modify the ingredient list appropriately.


Six Extra Small (that's what it says on the jar) oysters
Three Eggs
Whipping Cream or Sour Cream (same as for the shrimp omelet)
Chicaoji Sauce (from Vortex on Lopez Island)
Olive Oil


If any of the oysters are very big - oyster sizing seems to be an inexact science - cut them in half.  Put some olive oil in a cast iron fry pan and put the oysters in.  Put the pan and oysters on high heat and stir the oysters with a wooden spoon until the magic mix of olive oil and oyster juice tells you that the oysters are probably just right.  Remember, they will continue cooking when you add the eggs.  Add the eggs and scramble just like any other scrambled eggs until the eggs are done.  Add some Chicaoji and savor something amazing.




In Screen Saver I talk about the times that Tom, one of my fraternity brothers, and I stopped at the Town Talk Market to buy a slab of round steak(almost as good as top sirloin but not as expensive) which we took to the fraternity house.  Once at the house I would heat the cast iron frying pan to a high heat and create the illusion of cooking the steak without actually doing it.  Then a little butter browned in the steak juice poured on the meat completed the exercise.
In later years my economic circumstances have allowed the steak to be upgraded to New York Cut and lifestyle has allowed me to acquire a propane grill, but the product remains fairly much the same.


Tuna Salad

In Screen Saver I mention my first significant encounter with tuna salad. I was very young – about four – and was starving after spending a morning on Alki Beach.  My mother and I were visiting one of my mother’s friends who lived on the beach.  Not being old enough to know anything about manners or protocol, I rushed into the house and begged for something to eat.  The lady made me a tuna sandwich.  I’ve been a major tuna salad consume ever since.


Seven Ounce Can of solid pack albacore
Large Tomato (buy ahead of time and leave out on the counter for a few days to ripen)
Part of a Yellow Onion
Medium to Large Avocado
Celery Salt
Dill Pickles (whole pickles; don’t use pre-chopped dill relish)
Best Foods or Hellmann’s Mayonnaise
Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard


Drain the tuna and using a dinner fork gradually remove all of the tuna into a mixing bowl.  The tuna should be scraped out in such a manner that it doesn’t have big chunks or lumps.
With a chef’s knife mince the pickle, onion and celery, each separately.  When each is finished put it in the bowl with the tuna and go on to the next mincing task.  The onion and pickle should be about equal in quantity, which should be, while an inexact science about half each of the volume of the tuna.  The celery should be about a quarter of the volume of the tuna.
Put some mayonnaise iand mix in.  Ultimately you should add enough to make the mix just a little on the creamy side. To do that you probably will put some in, probably falling short of enough, mix to see how it looks and add and mix some more.
Add a couple demitasse spoons of mustard and mix it in.
Take the core out of the tomato and slice it into sections,  but leave just enough un-cut so the thing still hangs together.
Spoon the tuna mix into the maw of the sectioned tomato.
Cut the avocado in half and remove the seed and remove the halves from the skin with a table spoon.
Put the avocado slices on top of the tuna in some artistic arrangement. You will notice that I really like freshly ground pepper.

tuna salad

Joe’s Special

Joe’s Special is in the same family – great hangover remedies – as the Hangtown Fry.  It is also great with that other remedy, the Bloody Mary.


A handful of ground beef
A chunk of yellow onion
A pile of spinach
Olive oil (I neglected to mention this mandatory ingredient in the omelet and Hangtown Fry recipes.)
A cast iron fry pan (I neglected to mention that in the Hangtown Fry recipe; a cast iron fry pan is mandatory for any of the non omelet egg scrambles that I ever put in this section.  Omelets all require a good omelet pan.  You can use a non stick cheapie pan, but that has no class.)
A little half and half or whipping cream or sour cream to add to the eggs
Three eggs


Mince the onion and put it in the pan with some olive oil.  Mix in the ground beef with the onion using a metal spatula.  The three ingredients should be mixed into an even sort of gruel.  If you have a gas, range turn it to high.  If you have an electric range you need to bring the element up to high before putting the pan on it.  The only way I have figured how to use as useless a cooking technology as electricity is to get the element hot and then provide the variance necessary by removing the pan for brief periods when the recipe calls for turning down the heat.  Gas is instant in response.  Electricity has to much lead and lag time for recipes requiring variable heat: those that want the ingredients to have the heat changed instantly, not sitting around on the element waiting for the thing to heat up or cool down.  So variance is supplied by on and off the element when using electricity. Get the onion and ground beef cooked.  If the beef is done the onions will be.  Having chopped the spinach up previously put it in the pan and THEN turn the heat down to low and cover.  The idea is to quick steam the spinach until it wilts.  Once the spinach is done – it doesn’t take very long – turn the gas up to high and put in the previously whipped egg and butter fat mix.  Scramble to personal preference and put on a heated plate.  Chicaoji is good; Tabasco is good.

joe's animation

José’s Special

This is a breakfast egg dish that I have also used as a cocktail hors d’ oeuvre.  One time when Ted and Marsha (inhabitants of Screen Saver) and I were having a cocktail hour on the Loon on Dworshak reservoir and I didn’t have any crackers or chips or cheese or anything I made this; it worked surprisingly well.


A big jalapeno pepper
Some yellow onion
Some ground beef
Olive oil
Three eggs
Whipping cream, half and half or sour cream


Mince the pepper and the onion and mix up with the ground beef in a cast iron fry pan.  Use high heat (see editorial on the subject in the Joe’s Special recipe).  Get the beef, pepper and onion mix done and pour in the previously whipped with the liquid, or nearly so butter fat, and scramble until the mix is done the way you like scrambled eggs.  I put powdered chipotle on top of them. Some sliced avacado is usually a good idea also.

josé's special

Significant Cheeseburger

This is like the one Jimmy Buffet sings about. I should point out the researchers in Britain have discovered that eating things like this will make you slow, stupid and fat. Or at least that's what happened to their rats, and they postulated that humans would probably be similarly affected.


Third of a pound of ground beef
Thick slice of a big onion
Thick slice of Tillamook white cheddar
Best Foods or Hellmann’s mayonnaise
Grey Poupon mustard
Hamburger relish
Sliced dill pickles
Kaiser roll


Pre-heat the propane grill to high and then turn down to low and let it sit for a few minutes.  Put the meat on the grill and turn after three minutes.  On second side after one minute put the cheese on.  Remove from grill at two more – three total – minutes.  The grill should have had the hood down during cooking.  Assemble the monster and eat it.



Poulet Mexicain

This is something that has evolved over time.  It originally was made of whole chicken breasts still on the bone and it didn’t have any tortillas.  Over time it became more like a chicken burrito, or pollo verde in a tortilla.


Peppers:  whatever is available but jalapenos, fresnos and pasillas are always good.
Yellow onion
Boned chicken breast
Olive oil
Jack Cheese


Garlic press several cloves of garlic into the pan with some olive oil.  I use a heavy bottomed Zani sauce pan.  It works like a fry pan but has higher sides so stuff doesn’t get spread around so much.  Put chopped onion into the mix.  Put the cubed chicken breast into the mix.  Cover and put on a high heat.  When it starts to sizzle turn the heat down to medium or so and let it cook for awhile.  Put in some salsa and some cumin and simmer until the chicken is getting a little crumbly – pretty well done.  Remove the chicken.  The onion can stay, but if some sticks to the chicken that’s ok.  Put the previously chopped peppers into the chicken, onion and garlic juice, cover and cook on a medium heat until the peppers are done.  When the peppers are done put them in a blender to turn them to a creamy sauce.  Pour this in with the chicken.  In a previously heated cast iron fry pan warm the tortillas, one at a time, and as each one is warmed to being pretty soft and pliant, put in a baking pan, put in some cheese and some chicken, letting some of the sauce come with the chicken.  Then fold the tortilla into a burrito.  Repeat this for as many tortillas as you want to fill.  Then cover the tortillas with some or all of the sauce and put the rest of the cheese on top and put in a 450 degree oven until the cheese melts.  Sour cream, avocados and diced tomatoes go on top.



Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict depend upon two deceptively simple-sounding, but in actual fact, viciously difficult processes: whipping egg yolks with butter and poaching an egg.  (If the person preparing the dish has, as I do, a toaster oven that requires not quite two times through the toasting process – the full two times producing charcoal – toasting the English muffin can prove a bit dicey as well.)  This recipe is a hybrid of several that I have tried, both from the proportional component of ingredients and also from the standpoint of the processes involved.  My one  personal contribution is the quantity of lemon juice to be added: none of the recipes calls for enough.  Somewhere just short of the juice of half a lemon – but more than a third – produces a wonderfully lemony, but still richly eggy/buttery taste (I have found, subsequent to writing the preceding directions, that 2.5 tablespoons seems about right). The recipes I have encountered call for lemon juice quantities that produce something tasting somewhere between scrambled eggs that didn’t get done and mayonnaise.  But be careful, because anything over that about-a-third-but-a little-more makes it too lemony.  If you use anything but fresh lemon juice you might as well chalk the exercise up to training to see if you can do it without screwing up the butter and yolk mixing process and throw the results into the garbage disposal or feed them to the dog.  This recipe is for two servings of two eggs.  I go really long on Hollandaise, however, so one might stretch it to three servings, but that wouldn’t be much fun.  I have stress-tested this recipe by occasionally doubling the ingredients, and it still works. 


Three egg yolks
Quarter pound of butter that has been allowed to come to room temperature
Juice of one lemon (I juice the whole thing so I can do an eyeball-calibrated  pour of the juice into the eggs and butter.)
Canadian bacon
Jumbo eggs


Staging and readiness is everything in this recipe. 
In the following order do the following: put a plate in the oven at a low heat; fill your poaching pan with water and put it on an element and turn it on high; fill your double boiler with water and put it on an element and turn it on high; put a cast iron fry pan on an element; split the English muffin and put it in the toaster; separate the yolks from the whites on the three eggs destined for the sauce;  I used to save the whites for some future theoretic use, but since I don’t make meringues, and an omelet without yolks is such a grim endeavor, I faced facts and just throw them out;  I’m obviously not a cook; juice the lemon; put the Canadian bacon in the pan; turn down the poaching pan and the double boiler to low; crack the two jumbo eggs into a water glass; cover the Canadian bacon and turn the element on to high; touch the surface of the interior of the double boiler – where you are going to put the ingredients – to make sure that it is pretty hot; you want to get the yolks hot, but you don’t want to cook them; I use a single piece double walled boiler with a little snout where I put the water in; I can tell things are about right by seeing that the water is about to boil out of the snout; I want it to remain just short of boiling; in any event, when the boiler seems hot enough, turn off the element and depend on residual heat in the water to complete the blending process; you might judge it desirable to turn the element on occasionally during that process; that’s a sort of “feel” thing; when the Canadian bacon begins to sizzle turn it to low; the objective is to slightly caramelize the bacon.

Now you are going to jump into the throat of the funnel.
Put the yolks in the boiler and whip them until they seem to thicken – a little – and maybe a few bubbles appear around the edges.  By the time you are finished there will be some semi cooked and hardened yolk around the edge of the pan.  I haven’t figured out if it’s possible to avoid this, but I know you want to leave it alone; don’t try to blend it in – you will just add lumps to a sauce that is supposed to be without lumps.  When the yolks are as described, above, start adding the butter.  With a dinner knife cut pieces – about a sixth of the cube at a time – and add to the yolks and blend until it is melted and combined.  Repeat this process until all the butter has been added.  Whip a little longer to get the mix really smooth and maybe a little thickened – this would be a good time to consider turning on the heat, on low, again.  Then add the lemon juice.  The mix will turn from medium to dark yellow to a lighter tone.  Whip until the sauce thickens, keeping an eye on the heat or lack of it.  When the sauce is thick take it off the heat and put it on a back element.  Keep an eye on it because it will continue to thicken and before you put it on the eggs you may need to thin it with a LITTLE water.  If that is necessary you probably want to do so with the pan back on the element at low.  I find it best to perform this inspection and adjustment if necessary while the eggs are poaching.  The trick is to not thin it too much and cool it too much when you don’t have enough time to recover because the eggs are almost poached.

The poaching pan should have been bubbling along on low, so turning it up to high should bring it to a boil.  Start the toaster and when the muffins are close to being toasted, the water having been brought to a boil, dump the water glass of eggs into the water and turn the element to low and cover the poacher.  Eggs are weird and can’t be counted on to cook the same way in any sort of sequential lifetime pattern, so you have to watch them, which means taking the lid off and looking occasionally.  When they look somewhere near done I lift them gently to the surface of the water with a slotted spoon to see if the whites are too jiggly.  If the whites are somewhere near done the yolks should be hot but runny which is what you want.  So when the eggs are done turn off the heat, put the muffins on the plate; put the bacon on the muffins; put the eggs (you should have moved pretty quickly with the plate/muffin/bacon steps so that the eggs haven’t gotten over-done) on the bacon.

Pour the Hollandaise over the muffin/bacon/egg assembly.  If you have a double boiler like mine make sure that the snout is pointed uphill so you don’t pour water all over your eggs.


eggs benedict

French Dressing

This is about the ninth generation of this recipe.  It started in Paris ten years ago when Mysti and I rented our first apartment there.  I didn’t have a salad cruet and was so new that I didn’t know the ropes in bricolage so I had to use a gravy boat.  I also couldn’t find any basalmic vinegar which was my preference at the time.  So I improvised with tarragon vinegar, Dijon mustard and olive oil.  What I came up with was pretty heavy on mustard but it was quite good.  I’ve been migrating to less mustard ever since.  I think this recipe represents the stopping point of that migration.


Dijon mustard
White vinegar (or tarragon if you have it)
Maille vinaigre framboise
McCormick’s lemon pepper
A salad cruet


White vinegar to the vinegar line on the cruet; vinaigre framboise to the water line on the cruet; one or two demitasse spoons (that’s pretty redundant) each of mustard and lemon pepper; olive oil to the oil line on the cruet; and shake the shit out of the mixture to get it to mix and mingle.



Chicken Curry

This is a great dinner and if there is any left over it makes a great ingredient for omelets for breakfast.


One large skinned chicken breast
Medium yellow onion
Broccoli and/or asparagus and/or zucchini (each should be equal in volume to the chicken)
Several cloves of garlic
Olive oil
Two cups of boiling water with two Knorr chicken bouillon cubes
One jalapeno pepper
Curry powder (I used three in the pictures shown)
Jasmine rice
Corn starch

Preparation and Cooking

Cut the chicken into small cubes.  Cut the broccoli so that it is in very small florets – not big and not much stem.  Cut the onion so that it is all single layer crescents.  Cut the zucchini into small strips.  If you are using asparagus slice the stems at an angle into small disks. Cut the jalapeno lengthwise to expose the seeds so you can remove them if you want to. Slice the pepper across the lengthwise halves into little green crescents.

Put a little olive oil in the wok and cook the chicken over high heat.  When it is done remove it into a dish.  Cooking the chicken may have produced enough chicken broth to cook the onions.  If not add some bouillon and cook the onions until they are par cooked.  Remove them to a dish.  Repeat that cooking process with the green vegetables, each separately, each removed to a dish when done.  When the ingredients are all done put them and the rest of the bouillon back into the wok, which should not have any heat.  Sprinkle some corn starch over the ingredients and mix together with the chicken and vegetables and when the corn starch is blended to invisibility add the curry and blend it in. When the curry is properly blended, turn up the heat to high and stir around for a short time until the liquid thickens somewhat. Serve on some of the previously cooked rice.


Bloody Mary- Now On Youtube

This drink is an essential part of a breakfast hour that is un-encumbered by any follow on business or social obligations.


Celery seed
Tabasco sauce
Worcestershire sauce
A lime
Celery stalks


Fill a big glass – I like a tankard style – with ice.  Put in some celery seed.  Cut the lime in half and cut one of the halves in half and squeeze those resulting quarters into the glass.  Splash generously with Tabasco.  Splash equally generously with Worcestershire.  Fill the glass half full with vodka.  Fill the rest of the glass with tomato juice.  Let the ice cubes melt for a minute to un-stick from one another so you can get the stalk of celery in the glass and stir until everything is blended.

Two of these are about right.  Any more can cause problems.

bloody mary

When my son Joe was little he accused me of burning out his taste buds. Now he is doing the same thing to his kids. And they - like their father before them - love it.

Taco Joe’s Tacos


You will note there is beer called for in the recipe; this is an integral part of the recipe/process mainly as one cannot really cook without the subtle releasing influence of a couple drinks to encourage the voices however it is also an actual part of the ingredient list.  The brand/type is not critical; it is mainly a liquid element to spread the spices and the capsaicin so use brand and style of your choice.



  • Ground chuck, 2-3 lbs
  • Beer
  • 1 packet of Taco seasoning - brand not very important
  • Cumin powder; best is the bag stuff in the Hispanic aisle (and cheap)
  • 2-4 fresh Jalapenos; seeded and rough chopped or sliced thin
  • 1-2 Pablano chilies, rough chopped or sliced thin
  • One big ass onion, rough chopped
  • One large garlic; diced
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese (preferably Cabot’s Seriously Sharp or Tillamook’s); shredded
  • Sour cream (non-fat not allowed)
  • Iceberg lettuce; sliced thin like “Shreds” in a bag
  • Tomatoes; chopped medium
  • Avocado: chopped same size as tomato
  • 10 or more corn tortillas (not the precooked packaged kind)
  • Also: See recipe for Ann Claire's pico



Brown ground chuck on medium high.  You want to go just past the normal browning stage and get a hair crispy but in between the two stages you need to add the packet of taco seasoning and cumin powder - cumin amount to be determined by the voices however I usually start at the same proportion as the packet of taco seasoning.  The spices need to ‘cook’ like a rue – you have to activate the spices with the heat before continuing.   Mix well and continue the browning.  Once almost crispy add about ½ a bottle of beer and continue to cook/mix until all happy in the pan.  Remove from pan (or griddle as I have, set aside and drain fat back to pan (which there may not be much of). 

Reduce to medium heat and drop in Jalapenos, Pablanos, onion, and garlic.  This is a process that is in between a sweat and a sauté depending on the amount of beer used prior to starting the recipe.  Either process yields quality results but I tend to lean towards a good sauté due to not watching very closely while checking on the quality of the beer in my hand.  It also adds an edgy flavor  that a sweat cannot do.
When vegetables are to your liking; drain if needed and mix completely; reduce heat to medium low and add all together.  Lower to simmer and cover while preparing the next critical part of the meal.

The shells

This is the critical part of the event for two reasons.  The meat filling is an evolution of many years of preparing the meal, starting with Dad’s concoctions as far back as I can remember; however there are many good recipes for meat filling out there that work.  What sets these apart, and a step that most culinarilly retarded people do not realize, is to have a true ‘taco night’ one must prepare their own shells.  While a person could relatively easily start with masa and water to make completely from scratch, store-bought (fresh) corn tortillas are perfectly acceptable.  What are not acceptable are the pre-cooked, pre-shaped chunks of cardboard that are marketed as ‘taco shells’ distributed in flashy boxes with catchy Hispanic phrases that delude the public into thinking they are somehow authentic fare.

Start with a heavy wrought iron skillet, 10’ is best.  My preferred oil is a peanut/vegetable blend due mainly to the frugal side in me; pure peanut oil is best as it takes the higher heat needed to create the perfect shell. Fill the skillet about halfway, turn to medium high.  I cannot give the perfect temperature for the oil; it is all about the ‘feel’  (or the ‘voices’).  When the oils starts having what might be considered a pre-boil look, you are there.  You will have to cock your head to the side, look at the oil with the light shining at it and you will see the surface moving.  If you have ever studied the water just below a dam that is not releasing water to generate electricity; that is the look you want.  Or about 340 degrees. 
To make sure you have the temperature correct, and to create another needed part of the dinner, you need to take about 5 shells and rip them (no cutting with a knife) into 3-4 pieces.  These are known as ‘pushers’ and are essential to the complete experience.  When you think the oil is ready, drop in 2-3 of these pushers and you should get a half second of nothing, then a beautiful, slowly increasing amount of bubbles.  Flip, stir, and watch for a slow reduction in the amount of bubbles; when half gone pull, drain, and salt.  If the bubbling process is not producing the desired results adjust the temperature.  By doing this you will have pushers, you will have practice, you will have correct temperature, and you will have tempered oil (even more bring than this recipe so I won’t detail tempering)

For the actual taco shells themselves, the above process minus the tearing of the raw shells of course.  After initial dip in the hot oil, flip over immediately for a couple second.  Re-flip and start shaping into a shell.  Try to pull out a bit earlier than you did the pushers so they are not completely crunchy; a bit if flex is much appreciated by most diners…


There are no pictures for this concoction yet. But Joe assures me that the world can't wait for that animation to be produced, so here it is in larval form.

You know how to roast garlic?


1 jar roasted red pepper, drained
3-4 cloves roasted garlic
¼ cup diced onion
5 slices fresh (seeded) poblano chili peppers – about half of a large pepper
Pinch salt, dash pepper

Blender, food processer, or stick blend until a smooth sauce (may have a bit of pablano chunks)

Add ¾ or so cup of good dark honey and mix.  Probably could use brown sugar instead.



 2 lbs beef, ground chuck is best according to Donna aka Ann Claire’s coach
3 spicy brats - meat removed; throw casing away
½ cup onion diced small
Cup shredded sharp cheddar (Ben’s idea)
Cayenne pepper – maybe a tablespoon depending on your taste
Fresh roasted garlic, about 6-7 big cloves mashed
2 pieces dried bread, crumbled
Triscuits (I used rosemary and tomato ones) crushed pretty fine - about ½ cup
2 eggs
½ of the sauce above
A bit of A-1
Black pepper; a bunch of it


Mix all lightly – no squishing the meat!  Use fingers to pull mixture upwards and crumble meat and ingredients together. 

Put into bowl, pat down lightly, cover with plastic wrap and sit on counter for 1 hour; preheat oven to 325. 
Turn out onto broiler pan. 
Poke fork or spoon handle (or chopstick) into meat but not all the way through about 6-7 times. 
Spoon on a bit of the sauce on and spread to fill the wells – but not coating the top of the loaf (yet)
Cook until 110 degrees or so, then spoon rest of sauce on.  Keep cooking until medium well. 
Turn on broiler (about 350 if you have an adjustable one) and broil until sauce looks pretty. 
Close oven door and turn it off.  Come back in 5 minutes and remove meat, let set for 5-10 minutes (like a roast)



We made mashed potatoes with garlic, cream cheese, milk, salt, white pepper.  Cooled, placed in ziptop bag, squeezed into little ramekins, and re-baked and a parmesan chip (fresh made) curled and stuck in the top; drizzled clarified butter on top.  I’m thinking a couple crumbles of fresh cooked bacon would be good on top and a garnish of chopped green onions.

Again, he's long on pictures and short on recipe. But here, until I get the recipe, is the animation of the process.


Ann Claire’s Pico

Thank you Maria for teaching me.

2 – Vine ripened tomatoes, diced small
2 – Cloves garlic, minced fine
1 – Jalapeño, diced fine
1 – Small onion, diced small
1 – Small bunch cilantro, chopped medium
3 – Radishes – diced small (optional)
1 – Lime
1 – Avocado – diced medium

Mix all of above ingredients in bowl, salt and pepper to taste,
add juice of lime, stir. 
Cover and let stand for a short while to get the most out of the flavors. 




In Screen Saver I mention that on a fuel stop at Clark Air Force Base in Manila on the trip to Vietnam I went into a cafeteria type of place where there were vast steam tables with a lumpy, viscous substance that was apparently being offered to the troops as food.  I subsequently – after some time in Saigon – learned that the substance, which was also on offer in the Officers’ Clubs where I ate most of my meals, was called SOS.  I guess that stood for shit on a shingle.  Even later in my tour, one of my fellow officers started waxing poetic one day about how good the stuff was.  He waxed so poetic that I had to try it, no matter how awful it looked.  I soon found myself also waxing poetic about it.  It was really good.  I have never seen a recipe for it, but I have been able to duplicate it with a fair degree of accuracy.


8 ounces of ground beef

2 or 3 garlic cloves

Olive oil (just a little)

1/8th cup of flour

Whipping cream

Lea and Perrins

English muffin


Use a garlic press to get some garlic in a cast iron fry pan.  Put in a little olive oil.  Put in the ground beef and blend the oil and the beef and the garlic into a kind of uniform paste.  Turn the gas up to high (if you are cooking electric, let the element get red before you put the pan on it).  Cover and let cook for a few minutes – 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove the lid and there should be a mass of beef and garlic that is partially cooked and is kind of like a beef patty with garlic laced into it.  Break it up some, but leave it in lots of chunks.  Don’t break it down to the size of the grind of the beef.  SOS is supposed to be lumpy.  Turn the heat down to medium.  Turn the chunks a few times until they are done and put the flour in and mix it up with the meat with a wooden spoon.  That should yield a bunch of beef and garlic chunks coated with flour.  Brown those a bit.  Then add some whipping cream.  At this point you are turning the mix into a sort of country cream gravy.  It will thicken and need some water to thin it down a bit.  When it looks like sausage gravy put the mix on your previously toasted English muffin halves and eat.




Grammy Lill’s Potato Cakes


Another thing that Grammy Lill made that I didn’t mention in Screen Saver was potato cakes.  I never forgot them, but I never thought of making them until I was an adult. But by that time I had adopted the diet that I outlined in Screen Saver, and that diet did not include potatoes.  It didn’t include bread, rice or beer either.  In fact it was based on the near absence of carbohydrates.

But one day after a number of years of being on the diet – it was the day after Thanksgiving, one of the few days of the year that I abandoned the non carbohydrate nature of my life and ate mashed potatoes and gravy, so we had an ample supply of left over mashed potatoes that were about to be thrown out – I remembered those potato cakes.  And then I just couldn’t forget them again.  I mentioned them to Mysti answering her questions about what they really were with a description: “ unbelievably patatoey, moist center soaked in butter with a dry dark brown crust". She added to my lack of ability to forget them.  She wanted some.

The problem was that Grammy was dead and had not left a recipe.

So I made up what I thought would approximate what she had made.  I made a couple really small batches, each of which went through some additions from their starting point.  And into the second batch what I took out of the cast iron frying pan was, as near as my taste buds could recall, my grandmother’s potato cakes.  We wolfed down vast quantities of them, and I have been making them during Thanksgiving and Christmas ever since.


3 cups of mashed potatoes

2 cups of flour

2 eggs



Mix the potatoes and flour in a bowl.

Add the eggs and mix in so that the mix becomes uniformly yellow.

Turn the mix onto a heavily floured pastry cloth.
Knead the mix several times, blending in the flour until the mix gets a little dryer and more spongy.

Flatten the mix into a square slab about a half inch thick.

Cut into squares.

Into a pre-heated (medium high) dry – no oil - cast iron fry pan put one of the squares as a test run.

You want the square to end up with almost burned – quite dark brown – crusts.  To get that result you need to get the correct heat and need to employ multiple turns of the squares to get that result.  You can’t just put them in turn them once and get the desired result.  When they are correctly done they have the dark brown crust and the inside will be hot and moist – not sticky.

When the test square has gotten to the described state set it aside on a warm plate, in a warm oven and do the rest of the squares.  You probably will have had to adjust the heat in the process of conducting the test.  When you get that heat level, don’t change it.  It is probably going to be pretty hot but not maximum high.

Put the finished squares on the warm plate, split put in a pat of butter, put them back together, serve and eat.  I have bacon with them.  A steak would be good as an alternative.



Ann Claire’s Daddy’s Salad Dressing

Go to the store and buy a Good Seasons Salad Dressing Mix. You want the glass container and lid. It has marks on the side for vinegar, water and oil. Throw away the dressing mix.

Add red wine vinegar to the appropriate mark.
Water - ditto
Oil - ditto   I think extra virgin olive oil tastes best, but it doesn't have the life in the fridge. I use canola oil.
1 tbsp dried chopped chives
1 tbsp dried parsley flakes
1/8 tsp dried mustard - (this makes an emulsion that "holds" the ingredients together when shaken)
A dash of Worcestershire sauce
2 or 3 dashes of Tabasco
A dash of white pepper
1/4 tsp Greek Seasoning

An Alternative

Use same stuff, except white wine vinegar and instead of chives, use a tsp to a tbsp or so finely minced shallot.

You'll want to adjust these ingredients to your taste.
Seems the white wine version goes better with lighter salads - especially if they contain fruit.


This recipe is from Jeannie Warren, Ann Claire's mama.


Apricot Fried Pies

Yields 24 pies

Place three packages of dried apricots in saucepan and cover with water.  With lid on saucepan, cook apricots until very tender, checking water level frequently.  Add more water if needed to keep apricots from boiling dry/burning.  When apricots are very tender and water is absorbed, remove pan from heat.  Stir in sugar to taste.  Add  ¼ - ½ cup sugar at a time until desired sweetness is reached.  Add juice from a small wedge of lemon to enhance flavor.  These can be cooked ahead and refrigerated until ready to make pies.

Mix two boxes of Pillsbury Pie Crust mix according to directions.   Mix one box at a time.  Roll dough out onto lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness.  Handle the dough gently to avoid toughness. Cut into desired size circle.  (I used a small Tupperware bowl, slightly smaller than a saucer).  Place a scant tablespoonful of cooked apricots in center of dough circle.  Fold in ½ gently pressing edges closed with fingertips.  Use a flour-dipped fork to crimp the edges closed.  Place on wax paper lined cookie sheets until all pies have been filled.
In a large skillet, place a scant ½ inch of canola oil.  Heat oil medium until shimmering.  Gently place a few pies into the heated oil.  Let pies brown before very gently turning to brown the second side.   When both sides have been cooked, remove to sugared paper towels to drain.  Gently, but liberally, sprinkle sugar onto tops of pie.  After they have cooled enough to handle, remove to cooling racks to completely cool.

These will be very tender and must be handled carefully.  They are very delicious and will bring tears of happy memories. 


Chicaoji Shrimp Sandwich With Avocado On Baguette

I eat these for breakfast during the part of the year – May to September – when fresh caught Oregon cocktail shrimp are available.  The frozen ones available at other times are invariably a disappointment.  This creation came into existence via a time honored personal channel.  “The Voice” spoke to me.  It said something like, “God damn that Chicaoji is good.  I’ll bet it would be great mixed with some Best Foods mayonnaise (Julia Child specified Best Foods mayonnaise as the accompaniment to go with the Dungeness crab in the menu for her request for her last meal) and mixed with some shrimp.  It happened I was eating a baguette when the voice spoke these words, so it was natural that I would decide to put the mix on a baguette.  The avocado came about because I can’t eat anything without an avocado being part of it.


Best Food Mayonnaise
Fresh Oregon Shrimp
Ripe Avocado


Mix some Chicaoji in a bowl with some mayonnaise.  Add the shrimp and mix.  Split the baguette and spread the shrimp mix on the bread.  Add slices of avocado.  Put the top piece of bread in place.  Stand back and admire your handy work.  When eating it have a salad fork at the ready to replace shrimp and avocado that squirt out the sides, and have lots of napkins.  A Bloody Mary is the official alcoholic accompaniment if you desire to indulge in such a thing.  See my youtube video on that subject to assure that the Bloody Mary meets offficial McKeehan standards for that drink. Or you can click on the Bloody Mary tab in this recipes section. The movie is more entertaining.

chchicaoji sandwich