Tag Archives: family

My Old Rice Cooker

My Old Rice Cooker

I’ve been eating a lot of black rice lately, because Dr. Oz said I should.

It’s amazing how a kitchen appliance, like my rice cooker, can bring back so many memories. I purchased it on my Tokyo honeymoon (to ex-hubby) in 1987.

When we split in 1993, I chose the rice cooker and he got the fax machine. My old cooker still makes the most perfect rice.

I wonder how that fax machine is doing?

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Filed under Family Stories, Little Bites

On Being Thankful.

As most Americans prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow,  I’ll be arriving in London en route to visit my dad in Bridge of Weir, Scotland.

Of course he and my stepmum don’t usually celebrate turkey day, but we’ll gather in their village kitchen and cook a Scottish/American feast together. I know, for sure, there will be some sort of turkey and glorious HAGGIS BALLS (equal parts stuffing & haggis mixed together) that I love to make year round.

In Bridge of Weir, Scotland with my dad 2002For a food fanatic like myself, Thanksgiving is absolutely the best time of the year. Not just because of all the tasty bites, but also a time to exhale, be grateful and reach out to family and friends.

Back in April, my mother passed away and I had to fly to Miyako Jima (near Okinawa, Japan) to take care of her funeral and estate.

The trip was absolutely dreadful (except for a few delicious moments) but it would have been worse if we hadn’t reconciled the year earlier.

My mom and I hadn’t spoken for over ten years, until two years ago when a friend of mine, over lunch at Jitlada (my favorite Thai restaurant), demanded I call my mother. If it weren’t for my friend, I’d never have found peace and comfort of knowing my mother a bit better. She had retired from the business I abhorred (more later), and was just a funny, old lady I chatted and laughed with long-distance.

My dad and I were also estranged for many years (international divorce and spending ten years in a children’s group home can do that), and it took decades for us to want to be in each other’s lives again.

Although it wasn’t always easy (I used to hold on to anger)… IT WAS definitely WORTH IT. I fly back to Scotland to visit him once a year now, and I’m so grateful for every moment together.

If there’s someone in your life you’ve been waiting to call or visit, please stop and JUST DO IT.

Life is short. There’s always time to heat up the leftovers tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving. Love, Jo

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Guinness Steak Pie

Jamie Oliver’s
Steak, Guinness and Cheese Pie with a Puff Pastry Lid

If you’re searching for a St. Patrick’s Day supper recipe (or a hearty meal to warm your spirits), this is a delicious alternative to the traditional pot of corned beef and cabbage, especially if you’re a “meat pie” lover like me.

Steak & Guinness Pie, MyLastBite.com

The recipe is from Jamie Oliver’s terrific cookbook “Jamie at Home”, which coincides with his show on Food Network. The episode with this recipe is called “Pastry”, in case you haven’t seen it yet.

This dish is now a St. Paddy’s Day tradition in our house, and it’s always a hit with friends and family.

My changes to the original recipe are noted in orange.

Ingredients

Olive oil
3 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
1 oz butter plus extra for greasing
Steak & Guinness Pie Photo 2, MyLastBite.com2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery trimmed and chopped
4 field mushrooms peeled and sliced
2 1/2 pound brisket or stewing beef cut in to 1 inch cubes
a few sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 can of Guinness beer

(Instead I used 2 bottles ofGuinness Draught, 11.2 oz size bottles)
2 heaped tablespoons of flour
7 oz freshly grated cheddar cheese
2 sheets of ready made good quality all butter puff pastry
1 large organic free range egg, beaten

(I also added 1 chopped Jalapeno for heat)

Steak & Guinness Pie Photo 3, MyLastBite.com

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large ovenproof pan, heat a glug of olive oil on a low heat. Add the onions and fry them gently for about ten minutes – try not to color them too much.

Turn up the heat add the garlic, butter, carrots, celery, jalapenos and scatter in the mushrooms. Mix everything together before stirring in the beef, rosemary, a pinch of slat and a level teaspoon of pepper.

Steak & Guinness Pie Photo 4, MyLastBite.comFry fast for 3 or 4 minutes, then pour in one bottle of Guinness, stir in the flour and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and place in the preheated oven for about one (1) and 1/2 hours.

Remove the pan from the oven and give the stew a stir. Put it back in to the oven and continue to cook it for another hour or until the meat is very tender and the stew is rich dark and thick. (I added another half bottle of Guinness at this point).

Jamie notes: “A perfect pie filling needs to be robust, so if it’s still quite liquidy, place the pan on the hob (stove top) and reduce until the sauce thickens.”

Remove it from the heat and stir in half of the cheese, then season carefully and leave it to cool slightly.

Cut about a third of the pastry from the block. Dust a clean work surface with flour and roll both pieces of pastry out evenly with a floured rolling pin to the thickness of a pound coin.

Butter an appropriately sized pie dish then line with the larger sheet, leaving the edges dangling over the sides.

Tip (pour or spoon) the stew into your pastry lined dish and even it out before sprinkling the remaining cheese over it.

Guinness Steak Pie

Brush the edges of the pastry with a little beaten egg.

Guinness Steak Pie

Cut the other rolled sheet of pastry to fit the top of the pie dish and criss-cross lightly with a sharp knife. Place it over the top of the pie and fold the overhanging pastry on to the pastry lid to make it look nice and rustic.

Brush the top with beaten egg then bake the pie directly on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes until the pastry is cooked puffed and golden.

Guinness Steak Pie

Serves 4 to 6

Guinness Steak Pie

Jamie Oliver’s Official Website

“Jamie at Home” on Food Network

If you have the U.K. version of the book “Jamie Oliver at Home”, it’s on page 342.

I use this Gram Conversion Calculator

Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

Originally posted Mar 13, 2009

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Filed under Recipes

Rum Cake

I rarely make desserts. I don’t bake cookies over the holidays or even like sweets all that much. Every few years I’ll make a tasty bread pudding with whiskey cream, using the last of the Glenmorangie Scotch I’ll have brought back from Scotland (while visiting my family). I know I can buy Glenmorangie here in the U.S., but there’s something about my dad tucking it in my overstuffed suitcase, the night before I’m heading home, that makes it more special.

There is one little cake that I do make each and every year, and that would be the classic Bacardi Rum Cake (I KNOW, more alcohol!). My sister and I loved when our grandma would make it for the holidays, because it was so “grown-up” tasting with the aromatic Bacardi glaze. 

I’ve always called my version “Spring Rum Cake” because I top it with powdered sugar and pretty edible flowers. My husband Peter loves when I surprise him with it every year, and instead of dessert he likes it in the morning with coffee.

This Sunday is Easter and I’ll be making it over the weekend for sure. Luckily for me, my good friend Afaf recently gave me a gorgeous bottle of Depaz Blue Cane Rum, so I’ll use that instead of the classic Bacardi. The recipe is super easy and always a crowd pleaser.

Rum Cake for Easter, MyLastBite.com

Rum Cake Ingredients:
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 18 ½ oz pkg butter cake mix
1 pkg Vanilla Pudding 
4 eggs
½ cup cold water
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup of your favorite dark Rum

Glaze Ingredients:
1 stick of butter
¼ cup of water
1 cup sugar
½ cup dark Rum

Topping:
1 Package of Edible Flowers
Powder Sugar

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Nonstick spray bundt pan
Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan
Mix all cake ingredients together
Mix on high for one minute.
Poor batter over nuts.
Bake 1 hour

Meanwhile make Glaze:
Melt butter in saucepan.
Stir in water and sugar.
Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Off the heat, carefully stir in the rum. 

After removing cake from oven, cool in pan then invert onto a serving plate.

Using a toothpick or fork, prick holes on top for glaze.

Next, drizzle glaze over top of cake. Go slowly so the glaze sinks in the cake.

Add powdered sugar and arrange fresh flowers on top.

Mentioned above:

My dad in Scotland

Glenmorangie Scotch

My sister

Afaf

Peter

Depaz Rum

Bacardi Rum

Note: The lovely “Sunflower” cake pan I use can be purchased on Amazon

Rum Cake on Foodista

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Guinness Steak Pie

Jamie Oliver’s
Steak, Guinness and Cheese Pie with a Puff Pastry Lid

If you’re searching for a St. Patrick’s Day supper recipe (or a hearty meal to warm your spirits), this is a delicious alternative to the traditional pot of corned beef and cabbage, especially if you’re a “meat pie” lover like me.

Steak & Guinness Pie, MyLastBite.com

The recipe is from Jamie Oliver’s terrific cookbook “Jamie at Home”, which coincides with his show on Food Network. The episode with this recipe is called “Pastry”, in case you haven’t seen it yet.

This dish is now a St. Paddy’s Day tradition in our house, and it’s always a hit with friends and family.

My changes to the original recipe are noted in orange.

Ingredients

Olive oil
3 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
1 oz butter plus extra for greasing
Steak & Guinness Pie Photo 2, MyLastBite.com2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery trimmed and chopped
4 field mushrooms peeled and sliced
2 1/2 pound brisket or stewing beef cut in to 1 inch cubes
a few sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 can of Guinness beer

(Instead I used 2 bottles of Guinness Draught, 11.2 oz size bottles)
2 heaped tablespoons of flour
7 oz freshly grated cheddar cheese
2 sheets of ready made good quality all butter puff pastry
1 large organic free range egg, beaten

(I also added 1 chopped Jalapeno for heat)

Steak & Guinness Pie Photo 3, MyLastBite.com

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large ovenproof pan, heat a glug of olive oil on a low heat. Add the onions and fry them gently for about ten minutes – try not to color them too much.

Turn up the heat add the garlic, butter, carrots, celery, jalapenos and scatter in the mushrooms. Mix everything together before stirring in the beef, rosemary, a pinch of slat and a level teaspoon of pepper.

Steak & Guinness Pie Photo 4, MyLastBite.comFry fast for 3 or 4 minutes, then pour in one bottle of Guinness, stir in the flour and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and place in the preheated oven for about one (1) and 1/2 hours.

Remove the pan from the oven and give the stew a stir. Put it back in to the oven and continue to cook it for another hour or until the meat is very tender and the stew is rich dark and thick. (I added another half bottle of Guinness at this point).

Jamie notes: “A perfect pie filling needs to be robust, so if it’s still quite liquidy, place the pan on the hob (stove top) and reduce until the sauce thickens.”

Remove it from the heat and stir in half of the cheese, then season carefully and leave it to cool slightly.

Steak & Guinness Pie Photo 5, MyLastBite.comCut about a third of the pastry from the block. Dust a clean work surface with flour and roll both pieces of pastry out evenly with a floured rolling pin to the thickness of a pound coin.

Butter an appropriately sized pie dish then line with the larger sheet, leaving the edges dangling over the sides.

Tip (pour or spoon) the stew into your pastry lined dish and even it out before sprinkling the remaining cheese over it.

Brush the edges of the pastry with a little beaten egg.

Cut the other rolled sheet of pastry to fit the top of the pie dish and criss-cross lightly with a sharp knife. Place it over the top of the pie and fold the overhanging pastry on to the pastry lid to make it look nice and rustic.

Brush the top with beaten egg then bake the pie directly on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes until the pastry is cooked puffed and golden.

Serves 4 to 6
Jamie Oliver's Steak & Guinness Pie

Jamie Oliver’s Official Website

“Jamie at Home” on Food Network

If you have the U.K. version of the book “Jamie Oliver at Home”, it’s on page 342.

I use this Gram Conversion Calculator

Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry

9 Comments

Filed under Recipes

Sri Siam Café [4]

My friend Laur invited me to lunch yesterday and suggested we go to Sri Siam Café, our favorite, local Thai joint. She wanted me to meet her niece Sherry, an intensive care nurse visiting from Chicago. I was totally fascinated with all of her exciting hospital stories, especially about the time she got to hold someone’s lungs during surgery (she said they felt “spongy”). Obviously it wouldn’t be appropriate lunch conversation for everyone, but for three gals with iron stomachs (sitting there filling ourselves with fiery Thai goodness), it was perfectly lovely.

Spicy Basil Seafood at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com
I ordered the Spicy Basil Seafood with pan-fried Squid, Mussels, Shrimp, Sole, Peppers and Chilies. The dish came with rice and an eggroll and is not on the regular menu. Look for it on the “All Day Special” menu. $11.50

Succulent Grilled Chicken at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com
Sherry ordered the Succulent Grilled Chicken over Egg Noodles. $5.95 (#91 on the regular menu)

Panang at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com
Laur ordered the Panang Chicken cooked with Red Peanut Curry Paste and Coconut Milk. $6.95 (#66 on the regular menu)

Thai Chili at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com
Beautiful Thai Chili Sauce on the table

On each visit I’m trying to taste a new dish, but the one thing I have to order EVERY time is the Crispy Rice Salad with Sour Sausage (Nam). It’s tangy, spicy deliciousness!

Sri Siam has over 100 dishes listed on the regular menu, plus ten dishes on the “Specials” menu. If none of those delights interest you, then you can always check out the “Off Menu” items listed here (you may need some help with the translation).

Sri Siam Café
12843  Vanowen St.
North Hollywood, CA 91605
818 892-6262

All my Sri Siam Photos on Flickr

Sri Siam Café  Website

Dining Date: 2/26/09 (Visit #4)

Visit #3 to Sri Siam (with photos)

Visit # 1 & 2 (with photos)

Sri Siam Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Wonder Twins

On Wednesday evenings I cook dinner at my sister Janet’s house in San Dimas. It’s the only night of the week when all the kids are home for dinner, and it’s the one night a week I get to spend some quality time with my family. I usually grill up some flat iron (or flank) steak and serve it with bacon-wrapped baby potatoes or some other bacon-wrapped side. The kids love steak and bacon, but it’s definitely a treat in my sister’s very healthy household. She always provides the veg and salad, and the kids help me prepare dinner after homework.

At the beach, MyLastBite.com

Janet has four kids and is an incredible mother.  I don’t have kids (except for my three dogs that I treat like kids!), so I’ve always made an effort to be a part of their lives. Cody is 19 and is currently training to be an EMT and firefighter like his dad. Camron is 22 and lives nearby. The twins, Kindal and Chace are the kids that I spend the most time with now, and today the twins are turning thirteen!

My two passions in life are food (obviously) and music, so those are the things that I’ve always shared with the twins. As I posted in the “About” section of the blog, a few years ago I started the “Chef Monkey” cooking club just so I could spend more quality time with my niece and nephews. Up until a few months ago, we held regular classes at my sister’s home, but now with the kids after-school schedules so overbooked (soccer, basketball & homework), we hold the club during the summer months only.

Chef Monkeys Cooking ClubThe Chef Monkey club motto is “We Cook Because We Can… Duh!”. A fun and important part of the club is making up songs to help the kids (and us grownups!) remember food terms. I still sing the “Mother Sauce Rap” when I’m making a pot of Béchamel or any of the five classic French “mother” sauces: Béchamel, Veloute, Español, Tomato, and Hollandaise.

The Mother Sauce Rap:

Béchamel is white
It’s so easy to get right

Cooking Fun, MyLastBite.com

Velouté is made with stock
The flavor really rocks

Español is brown
It’s used all over town

Tomato sauce is easy
Sometimes we make it cheesy

Our favorite Hollandaise
It’s just lemon, butter and eggs

This is what we call…
the Mother Sauce Rap 2, 3,  4…
The Mother Sauce is Wrapped… Out!

Chef Monkey Cooking Club, MyLastBite.comOver the years the kids cooked for firefighters (at the fire station!), volunteered at a women’s shelter, and catered special “Panini Night” fundraising events. This past summer we held a “Chef Monkey Cooking Camp” at Alexandria House, a transitional residence for women and children. The Chef Monkeys got to share their joy of cooking with kids less fortunate, and at the end of the lesson we enjoyed the meal together. It was amazing and we plan to do again next summer.

When the twins were five I started teaching them how to play guitar. My husband Peter taught me, so I would learn a few chords then show the kids. I’ve played piano and written songs since I was five, but guitar really changed my life and I loved sharing it. When Chace learned to play the drums, we started a band and called it “Kitten’s Whip”. The name was because of Kindal’s fiery attitude. Nicknamed “Kitten”, she has always had that “rebel rocker” thing going, even as a toddler. Chace has always been the calmer one, and he would often roll his eyes at his twin sister (he still does).
Kindal, MyLastBite.com Chace, MyLastBite.com The Rock Show, MyLastBite.com

Rock Show Poster, MyLastBite.comFor the twin’s fifth birthday, Peter and I held a “Rock Show” in our back garden. They performed to the Monkee’s “I’m a believer” and Madonna’s “Don’t Tell Me”. The twins didn’t actually play guitar for that “gig”, but had a great time being on “stage”, singing to all the fans. We had tour posters, t-shirts and a packed garden full of friends cheering them on in the “audience”. It was crazy but the kids loved it! Two years later, Kitten’s Whip was on stage at the world-famous Whisky-a-GoGo.

The Whisky, MyLastBite.com

The gig was for my 40th birthday and it’s something we thought was “once in a lifetime”… until January 8th, 2007 when we played on stage at the Troubadour. This time it was for Peter’s 50th and we opened for his band, Rubylith. The twins were just turning eleven and the whole family joined in for this gig. Kindal on guitar and vocals, Chace on guitar and vocals, Cody on drums, Camron on base, myself and Janet on guitar, with her husband Paul acting as our stage “security”. Even our brother Greg flew in to play keyboards with us. He lives in Scotland with our dad and came in for both the Troubadour and Whisky gigs.

Poster for Troubadour, MyLastBite.comWe played two songs at the Troubadour show and it was important to me that we all play our instruments on stage (no cheating!), and also that we put on a good show for Peter and his friends. Band practice was held every week at my sister’s house and it was hilarious. Week after week of Poison’s “Nothing but a good time” and Motley Crue’s raucous version of “Smoking in the Boys Room” would sometimes turn into a chorus of “we are never going to get the timing down!”. We did, and it was fantastic fun.

The Whisky, MyLastBite.comI remember being in the dressing room before I went on the Whisky-a-GoGo stage (for my 40th). Kindal came in and I asked her if she was nervous, because I was getting nervous. I mean… this was the stage where I used to see “X” and Motely Crue perform when I was a teenager. At just SEVEN years old, she looked up, smiled and said “No way. I’m not nervous… I’m just really excited!”. That changed my attitude right then for the Whisky gig, and also at the Troubadour show. We practiced those two songs for an entire year, got on stage, and NAILED IT. It was awesome.

We still play music together regularly. Besides the electric guitars, the twins each have an acoustic and a drum set. Kindal even writes her own songs and Chace backs her up when they perform for friends. Needless to say, whenever I spend time with the kids we are either cooking or playing guitar… usually both.

The Troubadour!, MyLastBite.comOver the years, friends have asked “are you trying to get signed?” or  “are you trying launch music careers for the kids?”. Living in Los Angeles has many benefits, especially with Uncle Peter’s job (he’s a VP at a movie studio). So that means the kids get to attend movie premieres every so often, and we get to rent out a legendary nightclub for a special evening, but it also means that no one believes you when you say “we’re just doing this for fun”. It’s not about playing on stage and trying to be “famous”. For me it’s about the precious time we spend together… the weekly visits, working together, learning together, laughing, struggling, then coming together at the end and delivering.

Almost 13! MyLastBite.com

Whether it’s cooking with the twins or playing music with the twins, they both fill me with so much joy and love, that I never missed having my own children.

So on this, their thirteenth birthday I want to say… thank you to my super, fantastic wonder twins. Thank you Kindal and Chace for always being so good to your crazy Aunt Jo.

Here’s to many more years of music, cooking and wonderful adventures together.

Happy Birthday! xoxo

Update: Photos from the twins 13th Birthday Dinner at “Claim Jumper”!

Marisa & Chace, MyLastBite.com
Chace with his date, Marissa

Tony & Kindal, , MyLastBite.com
Kindal with her date, Tony

Teen Feast, MyLastBite.com
A Teen Food Fest

Digging in, MyLastBite.com
Chace… attempting death by chocolate!

Cake Finished, MyLastBite.com
he survived (with help from Tony) !

Kindal, MyLastBite.com
“I’m not telling you what I’m wishing for!”

Kindal & Ilana, MyLastBite.com
Kindal and her best friend Ilana…. who is also an original “Chef Monkey”!

Wrapping it up, MyLastBite.com
Wrapping up the evening…

13, MyLastBite.com
Chace & Marissa

13, MyLastBite.com
Tony & Kindal

Tiny Chef Monkeys, MyLastBite.comMore Photos on Flickr

Chef Monkeys

Kitten’s Whip

Rubylith (Peter’s band)

Alexandria House

Whisky-a-GoGo

Troubadour

Chef Monkeys on YouTube

Our birthday gift to the twins: Dinner at Michael Mina in San Francisco!


” Wonder Twins” Written by Jo Stougaard ©MyLastBite.com All Rights Reserved. No usage allowed including copying or sharing without written permission.

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Filed under Family Stories, Food Stories (written by me)