The Order Of Things

Wood Crafters is one of the best backyard construction companies in the Houston area. I have been working with them for over 16 years now and look forward to learning new things in construction from them. After all, my recreational passions are cooking, building, and comics.

One of the things I have learned recently is about baseboards. I always thought that it was better to do the baseboards last. This way you get a clean look and everything finishes out nicer. It seems weird that my boss always insists that the baseboards should go in before the finished floors.

I thought that it had more to do with the fact that “time is money”, however this is not the case. In the kids room I decided to do it my way – baseboards last. Ultimately I realize that it would have been better to do them before the flooring. They look fine, but they could have been more level without any gaps on the bottom. They would have been easier to install, and touch up would have been easier. I have learned that there is an order to things. When the professionals decide that it needs to be done a specific way, there is always a reason.

Now I wish I had listened and done it the way my boss suggested. It looks nice, but I can tell the difference between what it could have been compared to what it is now. I guess you live and learn! That is why there are Carpenters with a big “C”, and i am one with a little “c”! I have much to learn. So remember, “listen to experience, have a plan, and realize there is an order to things!”

Salmon with Mustard Cream

Salmon with Mustard Cream and Pan Roasted PotatoesI have cooked many things since I started this blog. Some have been winners and others have been duds. The things that I put on here are generally what I would call successes or definite winners. This one was definitely a winner. My wife said that it had to be one of the best dinners that I have made so far.

This was one from the Cooking Light Superfast Suppers cook book that my wife got when she was doing Southern Living At Home. It is actually one of our favorite cookbooks. For one, it gives you parings like the one that I did that night. Salmon with Mustard Cream Sauce and Pan-Roasted Potates. If you can find this cookbook I would definately recommend it.

The potatoes were basically store bought potatoes wedges that you find in the freezer section of your grocery store (such as Simply Potatoes). Heat oil in a skillet, put the potatoes in it with some greek seasoning and some fresh ground pepper. It takes about 10-12 minutes to make.

The salmon is broiled and you will need a good broiler pan to make this work the best. Crack some pepper on top of it, and sprinkle it with a little lime or lemon juice. It doesn’t need very much juice to give it a little more of a ting. So don’t over do it. It says that it takes about 8 minutes, but I let it cook a little longer to make sure that it was fully cooked. I also made the potatoes and the cream sauce while it was broiling. This did in fact make it super fast and super easy.

I recommend having your Fishmonger cut the pieces to size and find some really fat pieces of meat as well. Because I did this in advance, I didn’t have to worry about size issues or trying to cut them to the weight myself. I also left the skin on the fish. I don’t know that it really helped or hurt any, but it did keep the fish nice and together when I pulled it off the pan.

This is not only a great evening dinner plan, but it is also Super Fast and Super Easy just like the cookbook says. Just remember, “The simple things in life, can be the most enjoyable.”

Salmon with Mustard Cream
4 (6-ounce) Skinless Salmon Fillets
Cooking Spray
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 Cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat broiler
2. Place fish on a broiler pan; coat fish with cooking spray, and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Broil about 8 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when tested with fork.
3. Combine sour cream and next 6 ingredients.
4. Place fillets on plates. Spoon sauce over fish.

Yield: 4 Servings (Serving Size: 1 Fillet and about 2 tablespoons sauce.)

Cooking Light Superfast Suppers, Oxmoor House 2003

That’s alot of Bull – and Potatoes!

Black and Bleu Steak and PotatoesWell the Houston Rodeo is in full swing. This is a huge event with Roping, Riding, Bulls, Horns, Rodeo Clowns, Concerts and best of all BBQ! It has cowboys and cowgirls, hats, boots, and spurs. My wife is still talking about Reba McEntire’s boots. There is nothing like having a cattle drive through one of the largest cities in the United States to make you think of steak. So this is for all you meat and potatoes kind of guys or gals.

Steaks are one of those things that my wife really didn’t think that I could do. I mean she was OK with what I have done, but just wasn’t thrilled with my way of making them and I would have had to agree. So I have been trying to find different ways to make a steak and keep it juicy and full of flavor. Well I have found the solution. I recently watched this video (click here) and learned a lot about how to make a great steak. This was in direct conflict to what my wife said that Nate Berkus’ guest was suggesting. But I think that I have a winner either way.

Fabio (from the video) says that steak is something that you don’t have to mess with a lot. He says not to put salt directly on the raw steak. Nate’s guest said that you should put salt on the steak to bring out the juices. I am going to have to go with Fabio on this one. This was a juicy steak, full of flavor, and best of all, my wife loved it. I mixed some butter, fresh parsley, rosemary, and blue cheese. Then I put some crumbles of blue cheese and some green onions on top. It was delicioso. If you get the chance check out the video, and be amazed with a mouth-watering, succulent, full of flavor steak.

Just remember, “If at first you don’t succeed, look it up on the internet.” Have fun!

It is Simple – Just Use the Manual

Ladder Joint

In carpentry the phrase, “This should be a simple job!” is a curse word. It is kind of like saying “Break a Leg” to an actor before they go on stage. To the actor it is considered good luck, in the other not so much. In almost every case the thing that was supposed to be “simple” just doesn’t turn out that way.

This last weekend I had to install a new attic ladder, so I asked one of my carpenter buddies to come and help me put it in. (This really should be a two-man project.) The wood attic ladder we owned was broken at the joint on the bottom section. These ladders almost always break in this location and I did not want to consider putting a new one back in.

Werner Attic Ladder

Both Lowes and Home Depot sell aluminum attic ladders. It is better to spend a little extra and get something that will ultimately hold up better and last longer. After putting it in “by following the instructions” I could feel the difference right away. We watched the video first just to see what we thought, and they made it look so simple. We thought to ourselves “Yeah Right! Like it is going to be that easy.” However, once we finally got the old ladder out of there (the hardest part of the job), it really did flow the way the video described it.

Yes, it is possible for men to read the instructions before putting something together. In this case, I highly recommend it. If you have a bum ladder, check out the video and see if you want to tackle this absolutely amazingly difficult project (not really, LOL) for yourself. If I didn’t just curse the project for you remember, “It is simple – just use the manual and a good buddy.”

Fire and Ice Creole Chicken with Asparagus

Creole Chicken and AsparagusI remember when I was a child watching a guy by the name of Justin Wilson cooking the Cajun way. “I Garontee!” He was notorious for putting wine in whatever he cooked and then taking a good swig of it. He was probably plastered before he got done with the show, but I loved it. He was one of the first experiences I had of a famous male cook. He made me interested in Cajun Cooking. So, here is to you Justin; you have been an inspiration.

I called this Fire and Ice Creole Chicken with Asparagus because it has some bite to it, but you can cool it down with the cheese sauce on the Asparagus. It is not inherently too spicy, but I thought it was a cool name. After all they say if something is spicy when you eat it, do not reach for the glass of water. Water will just enhance the burning sensation. Milk is what they say will help ease the burn in your throat.

It is amazing what you can do with Velveeta if you try. Basically I just combined some Velveeta Cheese, sour cream, half and half, and dried dill to make a cheese spread over the steamed asparagus. Be careful not to over cook the Asparagus. It will continue to cook even after you take it off the burner. I have done that plenty of times over the years. Timing is everything when it comes to cooking this vegetable. I love Asparagus! Cooked through with just a little bit of hardness, you can have a wonderful side dish to go with this Creole Chicken. (Broccoli would be great as well.) 

Just because it has some spice to it, doesn’t necessarily make it creole. This was however a wonderful and extremely easy dish to make. Throw some spices in a Ziploc bag, mix it with the chicken, and then throw it into a skillet. Add some mango salsa and you have a wonderfully simple and luxurious dinner. MMM, MMM!

Just Remember, “A little inspiration can go a long way. I Garontee!

Recipe: Creole Chicken