Weird, Wonderful Culinary Gadgets

Really hoping a ‘Pop At You’ Toaster will find its way under my tree this year.
Or, I’d settle for a Spaghetti Aid


Needling my Way to Homemade Chicken Fried Steak

I really really love kitchen gadgets. This love has been professed previously with the purchase of the Olivator (AWESOME device & great cocktail conversation starter. Well, if the people at your cocktail party are foodies!)

So when the opportunity arised to purchase another gadget AND make one of my favorite comfort-food-snowy-lazy-Sunday meals we jumped at it.


And now our household is the proud owner of a Needler – that much needed device that claims to:

  • Achieve better cooking results from less expensive cuts of meat with the multi-blade hand-held meat tenderizer
  • Helps reduce cooking time by up to 40 percent; helps meats cook more evenly by reducing shrinkage
  • Razor sharp knife blades cut through connective tissues that make meat tough
  • Create tiny heat channels without changing shape or appearance of meat, resulting in faster penetration of marinades


Fancy description for what we used it for – to turn a hunk of beef bottom round into chicken fried steak worthy cuts (instead of using the lesser cube steak cuts). The inspiration and directions for our first run at this Texas state dish came from our foodie hero – Alton Brown – and his Good Eats episode ‘Cubing A Round’


Our first go wasn’t too bad (we also followed Alton’s recipe) But the next time we’ll make a few tweaks. Among the lessons learned:

  • Dredge the beef before you needle
  • Needle at least four times per side
  • Salt & pepper the beef (not just the dredge)
  • Make sure your oil is good and hot to help sear the dredge on


What is a chicken fried steak meal on a Sunday without hashbrowns, fried eggs, sausage gravy & biscuits? (No, you can not have my awesome 1960′s pink Frigidaire Custom Imperial Flaire oven/stove featured in this cooking in action shot :-) Even when I screw up a recipe I feel hip and sassy while doing so due to this awesome piece of 60′s kitchenery.)


While I always knew Texans owned this dish – I had no idea about the immigrant component of it’s history. Here’s more on its Texas Hill Country origins per Alton...

“…this dish is based on Weiner schnitzel and was probably brought to the hills of central Texas by the thousands of Germans who immigrated there in the nineteenth century. Lacking veal, they adapted their recipe by tenderizing tougher cuts of meat. Even the white gravy traditionally served with the dish has roots in German cream sauce. Over time chuck wagon cooks started making it and it diverged into myriad varieties.”


Trying out this domestic diva thing

Canned peaches are done! Now onto using my latest kitchen gadget – The Apple Machine / It pares! It cores! It slices! – to whip these apples into sauce.

All while serenaded by rumbling rough-housing corgi/schnauzer battles in the background.


Thanks to Steph Worrell for bringing back the fantastic fruit from Sunnyslope, and to for great step by step canning guru tips to make the most of all the fresh and local deliciousness out there.

Sent from my iPhone

Locavore love – Lots of cheese & the Olivator!

Recently was invited to attend a fun Locavore dinner group – with the theme of Sexy Foods for the potluck extravaganza in honor of February. 

After being stumped for a few days I hit the ‘Google’ and found a great list of foods known as aphrodisiacs  - including dates and truffles. 
And in my world – anything that has cheese around, in or over it is damn sexy as well.

If in previous posts I’ve expressed my love of all things pastas – cheese is a close second. In my next life phase I hope to become an artisan cheesemaker… no joke! 
And I figure that trying as many delicious types of cheese as possible during this phase sets me on the right path.

Two of my favorite local cheesemakers are Rollingstone Chevre and Ballard Family Dairy. Both of which wound up in my take on this Truffle Mac n’ Cheese recipe
From a locavore standpoint, the dish included:
- Ballard White Cheddar
- Ferranti Fresh Pasta – Penne
- Basil from Purple Sage Farms
And if you appreciate great cheeses – spend a bit more through Idaho’s Bounty or the Boise Co-Op and snag some of Ballard’s fantastic Cheddar!

And besides drenching pasta in it – it’s always delightful to shove cheese inside of something.

For the second locavore dish I took some of the Rollingstone Chevre to try and replicate a yummy dish I’d had at Twig’s Wine Bar

Goat cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto. Pit the dates, shove in the cheese, wrap the strips of prosciutto and broil for a few minutes until the proscuitto just starts to crisp.
Super easy and super delicious bite-sized appetizers. Oh, and I got to use my newest random kitchen gadget too! (full disclosure: it was the main reason I wanted to make these!)
The Olivator! Want to shove something delicious inside something else delicious? This is your tool. (Snagged mine at the Pottery Gourmet)