Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Puget Sound Sponsors Navy Iron Chef Competition

By Patrick "Tiny" Del Grosso, Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Puget Sound corporate communications director

The Navy Food Management Team from Puget Sound sponsored the second annual Iron Chef Competition at Naval Base Kitsap - Bremerton's galley, the Evergreen Inn.

This version of the Food Network's popular "Iron Chef" television show featured six, three-person teams from local bases, submarines and ships. Each team had to prepare two main dishes, an appetizer, and a dessert using Nestle chocolate chips, the main sponsor of the event.
The teams had to use the secret ingredients which included New York strip steak, sea scallops and whole chickens, and a starch and a vegetable of their choice.

USS Nevada (SSBN 733) Blue crew culinary specialists took home the honors as Iron Chef champions. This was the second time a submarine team has won the event.

This year the judging was provided by former Seattle Mariner's third baseman Edgar Martinez, local comedian Cris Larsen, Nestle Chef Ron Coneybeer, and Commanding Officer Capt. G. Lindsay Perkins.

This article is from the November/December 2006 issue of the Navy Supply Corps Newsletter.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tomatoes are Poisonous

Have you ever eaten a raw tomato? I bet you have.

All my life, many have preached the benefits of fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes. I suppose the vitamin-packed fruit benefit the human body.

But you first have to eat them to receive their life-giving nutrients.

The fresh, acidic taste is enough to gag me. I have avoided fresh tomatoes since childhood.

I go to great lengths to pick them out of a sandwich or a salad. If I miss a piece, my palette alarm will shoot aversion signals straight to my brain. When company and manners allow, it'll hit my plate faster than a rotten tomato.

The most stressful park of childhood dinners was the plate of fresh tomatoes that graced our table from late spring until the crop gave out in the fall. Mom insisted that we try one serving of each dish on the table, including the tomatoes.

Each evening I did what I could to avoid making a scene at the table. But none of my schemes to avoid them worked.

The biggest joy of growing up was the freedom to avoid tomatoes. The Navy's boot camp meal-time policy, "Take all you want, but eat all you take," fit my anti-tomato lifestyle. You never found a fresh tomato on my six compartment stainless steel tray.

My mother has since accepted my tomato evasion tactics. When eating a my parent's table today, I quietly shove them aside. Mom usually mumbles something about her failure as a mother and scoops them up for her salad.

So, are tomatoes really poisonous? I doubt it.

I'll next explain how I've fit my aversion to tomatoes into a culinary career that'll soon hit the four-decade mark.

More to come ...

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Pickled Beets and Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving was a holiday for me this year. We traveled to San Jose to visit my wife's family. Instead of assembling a knockout meal as we've done in the past, my mother-in-law purchased a pre-prepared meal.

I didn't miss the home cooked meal. Family is the most important to a holiday meal. Thanksgiving turned into a relaxing day, a chef's holiday of sorts. I was able to enjoy family -- especially my granddaughter who stopped by later in the evening -- instead of slaving all day over the range.

Early in the afternoon I said that I was going to Safeway to grab a few groceries. My mother-in-law joked that I couldn't live through a holiday without cooking. She's right!

Mike (my brother-in-law from Oregon) and I purchased the fixin's for blue cheese dressing and Alton Brown's pickled beets. The dressing is now gone. I used the last of it this morning to dress my breakfast turkey sandwich. And the beets are on the menu for dinner tonight.


I viewed these recipes on Alton Brown's Good Eats Food Network show last week. They come from his "Beet It" episode.

Roasted beets, recipe follows
1 large red onion, sliced thin
1 cup tarragon wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water

Remove the skin from the Roasted Beets and slice thinly. Arrange in 1-quart jars alternating layers with the onion. In a small pot boil the rest of the ingredients and pour over the beets. Tightly lid the jars and place in the refrigerator for 3 to 7 days before serving.


Check the beets after 40 minutes in the oven. I left the foil pouch in the oven an additional 15 minutes to ensure the beets were tender.

6 medium beets, cleaned with 1-inch stem remaining
2 large shallots, peeled
2 sprigs rosemary
2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl toss all of the ingredients. Place into a foil pouch and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bar None

Saturday was auction day at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds. According the sign out front, Bar None Action of Diamond Springs was holding its liquidation sale.

I'm always watching for heavy-duty culinary equipment. There wasn't much for the cook this time. A few old kitchen sinks tucked in with larger lots all that I saw.

The company is no stranger to restaurant equipment. They liquidated the Golden Tee Restaurant and Motel in Auburn last September. I'm going to watch the Bar None website for future restaurant actions.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Pozole for a Birthday Crowd

A 20-gallon stockpot of pozole was the centerpiece of my granddaughter's birthday party Saturday night. Her great-aunt Vella prepared the mildly-flavored pork and hominy stew on the back porch.

It's easier to make in large batches, said my son-in-law. His family often gathers around the large stockpot, which Vella heats over a one-burner Camp Chef stove, and enjoys the stew. Each cook in the family prepares the dish differently. Some use more heat while Vella make a mild version. Condiments are available to "kick it up."


20 pounds pork meat
4 (#10) cans El Pato brand tomato sauce
5 pasilla chilies, whole
Garlic, to taste
Salt to taste
7 (#10) cans El Mexicano brand hominy

When we talked, Vella mainly gave me the ingredient list for her large stockpot of Pozole. We didn't get around to discussing preparation.

She essentially tosses all but the hominy into the pot and covers it with cold water. Vella did say that she removes the pasilla chilies, purees them and adds the chilies back to the pot. And she emphasized that she uses very little garlic.

The hominy is added during the last hour of simmering. Make sure the meat of almost tender before adding the hominy. I'd be inclined to use chicken stock in place of water and add several bay leaves, dried oregano and maybe some dried ground cumin. But resist the temptation to overly season the soup. Let the condiments do their job.

Prepare bowls of shredded cabbage and iceberg lettuce, chopped yellow onions, sliced radishes, lime and lemon halves and chili oil for condiments. Although not served, chopped cilatro adds a distinctly peppy flavor. The beauty of this soup is that each person can flavor it as he wishes.

She prefers the El Pato and El Mexicano brands. Try if you can't locate these items at your local market.

Baking Rolls of the USS Stennis

Seaman Mark Andaya prepares fresh rolls for the evening meal in the aft galley of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on Nov. 7, 2006. Andaya is a U.S. Navy culinary specialist aboard the Stennis, which is currently the flagship for Carrier Strike Group 3.

U.S. Navy aircraft carriers typically have two large bakeries on board. The aft baker, located in the rear of the ship and several decks below the flight deck, is the main bakery. Most bakery bread products are produced in the aft bakery. The forward bakery typically supports the forward galley, where sailors and Marines are served "express" meals. The forward galley is the Navy's rendition of a fast food eatery.

Photo credit: Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul J. Perkins, U.S. Navy.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Cupcakes for a Soccer Girl

It's my three-year old granddaughter's turn to bring snacks for soccer practice this morning. We made a dozen and a half cupcakes out of a Duncan Hines cake mix. As a suprize for the girls, I mixed a little chocolate cake mix into the remaining white cake batter.

Papa and M mix chocolate into the remaining white cake batter. Lickin' the spoon was her primary job!

The girls are going to enjoy M's decorating job. Her aunt helped while mom and dad did last-minute shopping for tonight's party.

Quality control is an important aspect of cupcake baking! We now have 17 cakes for 11 soccer girls.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Marine Brings Southern-style Cooking to the Middle East

By Lance Cpl. Ray Lewis, Regimental Combat Team 5

OBSERVATION POST FALCONS, Iraq (Sept. 22, 2006) -- Cpl. Melvin D. Carson Jr., isn't one of those fancy television cooks. He’s just your regular Marine food service specialist, with a little kick.

Carson uses his childhood cooking experiences to spice up food he serves to Marines in the field food facility here.

“I like coming up with different ways to make food taste better,” said Carson, a 26-year-old from Virginia Beach, Va. “Plus I like the satisfaction that Marines get from the food.”

Carson is assigned to Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment under Regimental Combat Team 5.

He has been kicking food up a notch ever since his deployment last year to Iraq. He said he didn’t get the idea from professional chefs, however. He garners his inspiration from his parents.

“The pros are alright but nothing compares to Mom and Pops,” Carson said. “They’ve been cooking longer than any of those talk shows guys.”

He said both of his parents grew up without a mom or dad.

“Their brother and sisters raised them, so that forced them to cook and get better as the years went by,” Carson said.

From the time he was old enough to remember, his parents’ cooking was mouthwatering. He was intrigued by their culinary art. He had to get their recipes.

“There was this one dish that I had to absolutely find out how she made it,” Carson explained. “It was fried chicken. I bugged her and bugged her until one day she taught me how to make it.”

He didn’t stop there. Carson had a hunger for more. He wanted to know how his dad made a flavorful dish named after the family.

“My dad makes ‘Carson Burgers,’” Carson said. “The burgers are so big that you have to hold your breath to inhale it all.”

It’s his father’s influence that’s pushing Carson to put his heart and soul into his duties. The dishes he serves up for his Marines are the best he can offer, a lesson his father impressed upon him as a child.

“He keeps me going,” Carson said. “Just to keep cooking and stay motivated.

Carson’s dad is a retired Marine. He said his dad’s longevity encourages him daily to strive for greatness.

“I want to show him that his boy is staying strong,” he said.

Carson has never had any sort of formal culinary training, other than his initial schooling in the Marine Corps. Without instruction, Carson puts forth his best effort to give Marines the best food he can serve.

“I try to make the food as close to my mom’s southern cooking as possible if I can,” he said.

He’ll sometimes mix spices, seasoning other ingredients to get the effect of a home-style meal.

“I’ll do it to collard greens, steak and sometimes hash browns,” Carson said.

Carson thinks that’s important for Marines and sailors on deployment. Most of them won’t taste a home-cooked meal for several months.

“The food is good,” said Lance Cpl. Jairous E. Hardnett, a radio operator attached to Weapons Company.

The 21-year-old is from Atlanta, Ga., so he knows good southern food. He said Carson’s food brings him back to the states in a way.

“It’s as close to home as it’s going to get out here,” Hardnett said.

Hardnett and others are surprised that someone would put so much care into their food.

They constantly come up to him and others asking if they’re going to make specific dishes.

“You should have been here for the chicken parmesan,” said Cpl. Nicholas J. Lindsay, a 22-year-old mortarman from Paramus, N.J., who is also a squad leader with Weapons Platoon. “I wonder when they’re going to make it again.”

Carson doesn’t ask for much after he’s done serving hundreds of Marines. Their smiles are enough.

“It feels good to know that after sweating in the kitchen making food that they appreciate your meals,” Carson said.

Chef at War

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM –- Inside a containerized deployable kitchen, Staff Sgt. Theresa Schaible mixes ingredients for Sloppy Joes. The 386th Expeditionary Services Squadron food services members feed thousands of military members several times daily. The kitchen always stays open, even in Alarm conditions, so that food will be available afterward. Operation Iraqi Freedom is the multinational coalition effort to liberate the Iraqi people, eliminate Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and end the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo.

Pull Tab and Eat

Soldiers pull a tab to activate the Unitized Group Ration-Express. UGR-E modules serve hot meals for up to 18 warfighters without requiring kitchen equipment, cooks, fuel or a power source.

Photo credit: Sarah Underhill, October 23, 2006.

The Spud Coxswain

Spud coxswain is the traditional job title for salad and vegetable preparation cooks on navy war ships.

Portsmouth, Va. (Oct. 23, 2006) - Culinary Specialist Seaman Emmanuel Victor slices celery in preparation for the dinner meal in the aft galley of USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman is currently conducting a docked planned incremental availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard and will return to sea this fall.

Photo credit: Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Greg Pierot

New Marine Corps Food Service Company Poised for Proficiency

By Lance Cpl. W. Zach Griffith, MCB Camp Butler

CAMP KINSER, CAMP BUTLER, OKINAWA, Japan (Oct. 13, 2006) -- 3rd Marine Logistics Group's Headquarters and Service Battalion activated a new company Sept. 28 in a ceremony at Robert's Field on Camp Kinser. Food Service Company, H & S Bn., 3rd MLG, is the result of a Marine Corps-wide effort to consolidate food service support.

All assets from 3rd MLG were consolidated to provide easier food support to the MLG and III Marine Expeditionary Force, according to Capt. Gary Spinelli, the commanding officer of the new company.

"With this consolidation, we can ensure the right number of personnel and equipment go to each unit," Spinelli said. "We can support (III MEF) better this way."

Before the consolidation, it was up to individual units to procure their own food support Marines and equipment, according to Spinelli. Now, all they have to do is contact the new unit.

There shouldn't be any problems getting used to the process, as the consolidation process has already happened in the 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions, Spinelli continued.

In addition to the re-organization, the 133 Marines of the company now have capabilities to field the new Food Service Support System.

The new system is like a portable galley, said Cpl. Scott Turek, a field mess noncommissioned officer for Food Services Company. The galley has the capability to serve over 1,700 quality meals per day, not just "exaggerated versions of Meals Ready to Eat," he said.

"Everything they have in the chow halls on base, we have in here," he said, referring to the stainless-steel interior. "This means we can cook a wider variety of food for the troops when we are on deployment. A wider variety means we get the benefit of more vitamins and such, rather than pure calories from the MREs."

Apart from being healthy, a wider variety of food in the field will keep Marines happier, said Lance Cpl. Timothy Graveline, a field mess specialist for the company.

"It'll taste at least a little more home-cooked than the tray meals that are usually served in the field," he said. "Decent food can help us take our minds off the stresses of being down range."

Another benefit is being able to keep the portable galley clean and sanitized, Turek said. Field mess halls are usually constructed out of wood, which is time consuming to construct, and even harder to keep clean.

"I wish we had these in Pakistan," Turek said, referencing his time participating in a humanitarian aid mission following the 2005 earthquake. "We had locals build us wooden permanent facilities that were very hard to keep thoroughly clean."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Squirrel Gone Postal

This may be a first for the U.S. Postal Service.

Barb Dougherty, a 30-year old letter carrier from Oil City, Pennsylvania, was treated for scratches and cuts after a squirrel attack.

The Associated Press reported:
"It was a freak thing. It was traumatic," Dougherty told The Derrick newspaper. "I saw it there on the porch, put the mail in the box and turned to walk away and it jumped on me." She said the animal ran up her leg and onto her back. "I eventually got a hold of the tail and pulled it off me," Dougherty said. "No one was home at the house where I was delivering the mail, but the neighbor lady heard me screaming and came over."
May be I need to be careful next time I walk in the backyard.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Full Moon

I took this photo of the full moon around 6:30 last night. My photography is a work in progress. A soon as I downloaded all 12 pictures of the moon I realized how I could've adjusted exposure compensation.

This is the first picture that I took (1/3-second at 5.6 f-stop with 400 ISO). After this shot I kept adding compensation with my Canon EOS Rebel XT. With each succeeding picture the silhouette of the moon became less distinct.

I'd like to get to the point where I can capture the detail on the face of the moon.

Apple Hill Crowds

Now is the time to see Apple Hill. The crowds have all gone home. We didn't see the heavy traffic this week as we had in past weekends.

I overheard this conversation at the at the engine house yesterday:

"Have your crowds dropped up there now that it's cooled down?" asked Dale, the master welder for the El Dorado Western Railway.

"Yea, they've dropped off like a hammer," Bill responded. Bill works part-time at one of the apple ranches.

The crows at Apple Hill typically fall off after Halloween, said Bill. He said now is the time to visit.

"The apples are still there," added Bill.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Dutch Oven Cookoff at Sacramento International Sportsmans Expo

Dave Herzog posted this message on the IDOS Forum Friday:

I have just been asked to quickly put together a Dutch oven Cookoff at the ISE Sportsman's Show in Sacramento the weekend of January 18-21 with a cook-off on the 20th. So its a go with one hitch I need 5 teams by the end of November. Not sure of an entry fee if any and prizes are being gathered as we speak. Contact me if you are interested! Dave

P.S. I could also use some help manning the booth, with demo's and judging!

The International Sportsmans Expo website can be accessed here. For information on being a contestant or helping out, contact Dave at his email.