Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cranberry-glazed carrots

Faced with over a quart of leftover cranberry sauce at work, I added it to glazed carrots at dinnertime.


Seven pounds as purchased should yield 5 pounds edible portion.

5 pounds carrots, sliced on the bias 1/4-inch thick
4 ounces butter
4 ounces sugar
3 cups chicken stock or water
Salt, to taste
1 cup cranberry sauce

Melt margarine in saucepan over low heat. Stir in sugar, salt, and stock or water. Add carrots and cook, covered, over low heat until almost tender. Remove cover, stir in cranberry sauce and continue cooking, until liquid to reduces to a glaze and carrots are tender. Serves 25 (1/2-cup) portions.

Monday, November 29, 2010

More Thanksgiving at sea ...

SAN DIEGO (Nov. 25, 2010) -- Aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick West addresses the ship's culinary specialists before the ship's traditional Thanksgiving meal is served to the crew and their families. The Nimitz-class carrier is currently preparing for its upcoming Western Pacific deployment.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Kevin C. Harbach.

Thanksgiving at sea ...

The culinary specialists serve a traditional menu from aft mess on an aircraft carrier. In my day the forward mess was the express line, where Sailors could get hamburgers, chili or fried chicken, plus salads and other quick-serve menu items.

PACIFIC OCEAN (November 25, 2010) -- Culinary Specialist 1st Class Lemuel ManLogon from Stokton, Calif., prepares a traditional Thanksgiving feast on the aft mess decks aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). George Washington is currently on a scheduled patrol in the Western Pacific.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David A. Cox.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day menu

I'm blessed to have the day off. With my phone number on speed-dial, two 15-pound birds should be in the oven at work. I left the kitchen in the hands of a capable resident.

My own turkey is in the oven. I smeared a layer of butter, seasoned with kosher salt, minced garlic, black pepper and chopped fresh rosemary, between the skin and breast. The 15-1/2-pound turkey will bake for 3-1/2 to 4 hours in a 325-degree oven.

This is already shaping up to be a relaxing Thanksgiving for me and my family. Each of my brothers and sisters will contribute one or two side dishes when we gather later this afternoon. In addition to the turkey, I'll prepare my Simon and Garfunkel gravy (mustard-herb gravy with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cilantro lime dressing

I purchase cilantro at work in one pound packages from Sysco. Although this may seem like a large quantity for a small residential facility, I'm able to use it between my biweekly deliveries.

This vinaigrette recipe consumes two to three hands full each time I prepare it. It's just as good with or without the sweeteners.


1 cup lime juice
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 bunches cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 cups olive oil

Puree lime juice, vinegar and cilantro with immersion blender or in food processor. Add honey, sugar, salt, garlic and mustard. Puree until smooth. Slowly stream oil while blending.

Makes about 1 quart.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Taking care of the admiral

Other websites identify Chief Tavares as a senior chief petty officer, one grade higher. Here's a story from About.com on the Navy enlisted aides that took care of Vice President Dick Cheney's official residence in Washington, D.C.

Here's a snapshot of the duties of of an enlisted aide: "Responsible for public quarters and flag mess operations. Prepares meals, coordinates quarters maintenance and performs official function planning duties. Adheres to protocol, etiquette and quarters security requirements" (usmilitary.about.com).

ARLINGTON, Va. (Nov. 17, 2010) -- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead introduces the Navy nominee for Enlisted Aide of the Year, Chief Culinary Specialist Wes Tavares during the Salute to Military Chefs dinner presented by the USO of Metropolitan Washington. Of the five service members nominated for the award, Tavares was selected as the 2010 Enlisted Aide of the Year.

U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Tiffini Jones Vanderwyst.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A railroading letdown

While stopped at the Q Street railroad grade crossing in mid-town Sacramento yesterday afternoon, I waited for the train to appear.

No roar from of a pair of EMD diesel-electric locomotives or train horn warmed me of an approaching train. I wondered if the crossing gate had malfunctioned.

After several minutes a lone Union Pacific hi-rail truck rambled up the Sacramento Subdivision, the old Western Pacific line that slices mid-town Sacramento in two between 19th and 20th streets.

The crossing arms on P Street dropped then shot back up as if the signal grew impatient. As he approached the crossing, the driver braked to give the gates time to activate again.

It was a railroading letdown. Like the scene in one of the Lethal Weapon films, I expected a northbound freight to come barreling up the tracks, right on the bumper of the hi-railer!

In the photograph, a Union Pacific Chevy hi-rail maintenance-of-way pickup truck escorting a Dakota Helicopters spray rig through the Sacramento Amtrak depot in May 2006. Dakota Helicopters & Air Service is a company that specializes in railway vegetation management.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wedding train

The readers of the El Dorado Western Railway blog may not know this little know fact: One of our board members was married on a train. The nuptials were held on Bear Mountain on the Roaring Camp and Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad in Felton, California, some 10 years ago.

A photograph, with the happy couple posing for the photographer on the brakeman's footrest of the Dixiana No. 1, greets me each I visit the couple. The shotgun stack, as it reaches for the sky in the bright afternoon light of the Coast Range, always catches my eye as I enter their country home. (No pun intended ... the tall, narrow smokestack is called a shotgun stack because of its resemblance to a shotgun barrel.)

The Shay was a fitting venue for their wedding. As one of the railway's longest running volunteers, this board member dates back to the early days of the renovation of the Diamond and Caldor No. 4 Shay.

I'm sometimes envious of my friends. They did something that I would've loved to have done. Since I'm nearly 30 years into my marriage, I doubt I'll have opportunity to get married on a train. Besides, my wife may have something to say about it!

Unless family tradition dictates otherwise, I highly recommend a special train wedding to our loyal railfans. A Facebook posting alerted me to this Portland wedding on-board the Oregon Pacific yesterday:

"A special train operated Saturday in Portland. But this is a special train in a different sort of way because a couple in our railfan community were married aboard! Leia and George charted this Oregon Pacific train for their ceremony which as long time railfans this was a perfect way for them to have their wedding and celebrate their day!"

Click over to Dogcaught: A Railroad Blog for the rest of the story and more photographs.

Who knows, maybe the El Dorado Western Railway will offer the occasional wedding special soon.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Spinach and rice gratin

I prepared this spinach and rice gratin last week at work as a side dish. I enjoy it because the flavor of the spinach predominates.


Press as much liquid from spinach as possible before combining with egg, rice and Bechamel sauce. Top with Gruyere cheese for additional flavor. Bake a half recipe in greased 9x13-inch pan.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup diced onion, small dice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart milk, heated
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 bay leaves
1 cup Parmesan cheese
6 large eggs, whipped
1 quart cooked rice
6 pounds frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Add onions and sweat until translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in flour to form roux. Continue cooking for 2 additional minutes.

Add milk and stir to combine. Add ground clove, nutmeg, bay leaves and Parmesan cheese. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and cool.

Meanwhile, combine whipped eggs and cooled rice in large bowl. Slowly add cooled Bechamel to rice mixture, stirring constantly. Fold in pressed and drained spinach.

Transfer spinach mixture to greased 12x20x2-inch hotel pan. Bake in 350-degree oven, uncovered, until hot and bubbling, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Combine bread crumbs, melted butter and Parmesan cheese. Evenly sprinkle bread crumb mixture over spinach. Return to oven and continue baking until bread crumbs brown.

Cut each 12x20x2-inch hotel pan into 24 squares (4x6). Serve 1 square per portion.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

From pallet to palette

Col. Clifton Perry chooses from a variety of food offered by the 18th Services Squadron single pallet expeditionary kitchen during the Pacific Air Forces Operational Readiness Inspection March 11 at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The deployable kitchen can be set up from pallet to serving in under four hours. PACAF is conducting the inspection from March 9 to 15 to validate the mission readiness of the 18th Wing. Colonel Perry is the 18th Wing chaplain.

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeremy McGuffin.

Dinner in Afghanistan

PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Sgt. Timothy Hunnicutt from Atlanta, and U.S. Army Pvt. Clayton C. Hilderbrand from Ceres, Va., both food service specialists from 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, prepare rice and noodles for dinner for Soldiers stationed at Forward Operating Base Tillman.

Photo credit: U.S. Army Spc. Luther L. Boothe Jr., Task Force Currahee Public Affairs, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

We owe a lot to combat veterans

Here's re-print of an article I wrote in March 2008 on these pages ...

Although two of my ships sailed in and out of Vietnamese waters in 1972 and 1973, I was never directly exposed to combat. So, please understand that I pass this quote on from Lt. Calhoun not as a member of the fraternity of combat veterans, but as a serviceman who has a limited understanding of the sense of loss felt by combat veterans.

It really doesn't matter that Calhoun wrote these words in 1990. I'm sure the events of two and one-half weeks combat on the island fortress Corregidor were permanently etched in his mind. Combat has a way of changing the lives of its participants forever.

Here's Calhoun's description of his deep sense of loss as the 2nd Battalion prepared to leave Corregidor on March 8, 1945:
For the most part we were happy, and relived, to be leaving this dusty mass of wreckage where death lurked at every turn. Possibly just as great an emotion was intense pride; we had retaken our great fortress marking this event forever as the high water mark of our lives, or at the least ranking with the high water marks. Memories were indelibly burned in our minds for so long as we shall live. Yet not all was joy. We were leaving behind some forty-nine battalion brothers who would never grow old. Even after forty-five years the grief is still there. Another thought which survives the years is the haunting question, why them and not me?
As a nation, we owe these veterans the greatest sense of gratitude we can muster. They gave their lives -- even those who survived the 49 who remain on the island to this day.

It's their sacrifice (and that of all veterans before and after World War II) that allow this nation to live and enjoy the freedoms that we hold dear. Thousands of lives have changed just in my 55 years on earth. While our freedoms come from the Constitution and Bill of Rights, it's the serviceman who allows us to keep those freedoms.

Whether fighting the spread of Communism in Vietnam and during the Cold War or fighting terrorists on the fields of Iraq and Afghanistan today, many veterans willing enlisted in a cause they see as greater than themselves. These men and women have set their individual lives aside for a time to willing and voluntarily serve their country.

And many gave their lives so others could live. When you see a veteran today, give him a hug and offer your heart-felt thanks. He or she has been through a lot.

Let me close with this though from Lt. Calhoun from an article titled, "Does it Matter?":
... physical discomforts are superficial which can be laughed at ... later.

It is the mental trials that are seared in the soul. The memory of those young men with whom you served will never end. We were a close team, brothers following orders in every move. Our association was seven days a week. More that that, we company grade officers were required to censor mail--a hated task. I learned their loved ones, their dreams, their fears, their plans for the future, and often their inner thoughts. To some I became father-confessor. As some made the supreme sacrifice, the living became more precious. "Oh, God, don't let them die!" Though that pain began so long ago, it is still here today. The tears still flow and will as long as I draw breath.
Enough said ...

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Asian-style barbecue sauce

Here's a barbecue sauce recipe that I've prepare at work several times over the past month. I've posted it at the request of a staff member.

Use in sauce place of traditional barbecue sauce. The posted recipe will marinade 5 or 6 racks of spareribs.

At work, I use red wive vinegar in place of the sherry wine.


Tahini is a ground sesame seed paste, with a consistency that's similar to peanut butter. You can find in the ethnic foods aisle of your grocery store.

1-1/8 cups honey
1-1/8 cups hoisin sauce
3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup tahini
1 cup chopped green onions
6 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Sriacha hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon orange extract

Combine all ingredients in a smaucepan. Heat to blend flavors. Makes about 5 cups.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Stirin' the pot

I remember working over the coppers, the Navy's term for the steam-jacketed kettle, with the humidity in the galley running close to 100 percent!

SAN DIEGO (Oct. 21, 2010) Culinary Specialist Seaman Apprentice Tavon Doss, from Baltimore, Md., stirs pasta in a boiling kettle in the galley aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) during the Capt. Edward F. Ney Memorial Award inspection. Nimitz and the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) are the two finalists competing for the award given to the fleet's best overall food service. Nimitz is preparing for a scheduled Docking Planned Incremental Availability in Bremerton, Wash. and is homeported at Naval Base Coronado.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Peter Merrill.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A vote for coffee, straight up

As a regular at the Starbucks coffee shop at 16th and P Streets in mid-town Sacramento, I seek out the richest cup of coffee.

I stopped in this evening to buy a cup of coffee for the train ride home. As he filled my mug, the barista, a young man in his 20s, asked, "Room for cream"?

"No. There's only one way to drink coffee," I responded.

"Straight up!" exclaimed the barista.

Straight up is the only way to drink coffee, black, thick and full bodied.

That's my vote. What's yours?