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, Wyoming
Thanks for visiting Sauce du Jour. Feel free to share a great recipe, leave a comment, or make me dinner. I'll bring hors d' oeuvres and the wine! To visit my website go to Thanks for visiting the Sauce ~Tammi

Jun 30, 2010

I Love NOT Camping!

Back in the early days of our married life The Big Guy and I lived in a Sheep Wagon. What’s a sheep wagon, you ask? (See picture above—shake head in disbelief then GASP!) Well, it’s kind of like an old time camper, only smaller…with fewer amenities…and less square footage.     
    Inside this little house on the prairie was a bed (slightly larger than twin size), a table that slid out from underneath the bed, a small cast iron stove that had been retrofitted with propane, one small cabinet and one shelf. We also had a tea kettle, a dish pan and a bowl. Water was hauled in and stored in cream cans and rationed as if it was gasoline and WW2 was still going on.
     The summer of ’82 we slept with the door thrown open and the one and only window propped up hoping for enough of a cross breeze to cool off this little easy bake oven that we were calling home. In the evenings we bathed in a nearby creek, and then afterwards had the romantic task of picking leeches off each other. We went to the bathroom anywhere we felt like it. Not having a pot to piss in took on a whole new meaning. In place of TV we watched nightly lightning storms and the rain was our radio. Life was simple. I needed my head examined.
     We spent one winter in the sheep wagon too, which was not so serendipitous. Baths were taken in a dishpan and we literally froze our butts off when having to go outside to use the “facilities”. I was stuck inside the 7' x 12' box, 24-7 and my days were spent painting ceramic mice, which would become Christmas ornaments once I stuck a metal hook through their heads. (This was after my lobotomy, by the way) The up side was that the sheep wagon was so small that it could be heated with the strike of one farmers match. Two matches and we didn’t need sock hats in bed. The propane stove was only used for heating water because when we fired it up the sheep wagon was turned into a sweat box in about thirty seconds.
     I know what you’re thinking…we don’t seem like the type of people who would live like that. Well, all I can say is that we were young and dumb and broke and actually liked being together in small spaces. Also, it was the furnished housing that came with the job. The Big Guy was operating a dozer and scraper and working for a guy who was paying him THE BIG BUCKS! We were practically rolling in dough! So much that we likely could have afforded an actual pot to piss in. Think of it like a year long camping trip—with fringe benefits.
     The job ended a year or so later but the repercussions have been life long. To this day I hate camping, I’m terrified of mice, I have an aversion to arts and crafts and, not surprisingly, I refuse to pee outside. However, this whole experience was a lesson in reliance and commitment. Most young couples develop a trust—meaning that the one in the bathtub isn’t worried that the one with the blow dryer is going to toss it in the tub with them. Ours was different. When one is picking leeches off of the other one’s backside and takes the extra time to double check, it brings a whole new meaning to knowing that your mate “has your back”. We have known that about each other for over thirty years now.
     Those days are now long behind us and no way in hell do I want to spend another night in a Sheep Wagon. Not even for old time sake. There are some things you just don’t have to do twice in your life to be sure that you don’t want to do them again, like poking a hibernating grizzly, juggling chainsaws or bathing with leeches.
     Big and I spent the next 25 years without pitching a tent or unrolling a sleeping bag. We kept the girls a safe distance from s’mores, hotdogs, campfires and any movie that glamorized camping, like The Parent Trap.
     The thought of sleeping anywhere other than my own bed (or a hotel room) hadn’t crossed my mind in years when The Big Guy got a wild hair and decided that we should buy an RV. I reminded him that I’M NOT CAMPY! "It won’t really be camping," he said sounding somewhat convincing. "We’d have a bed and AC and a TV," he continued to sell me the idea.
    Ok, so I may have softened a little when I saw the push-button flush toilet and the computer desk. For a moment I thought I heard the chorus of Kumbabya playing in my head, Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya. The heated marble floors were a nice touch, someone’s singing Lord, kumbaya, but I still had my guard up. The two burner gas stove and convection oven made me think, "Yeah, maybe I COULD be campy!" Someone’s laughing Lord, kumbaya. Then I saw the dishwasher! Someone’s smiling Lord, kumbaya. Yeeesssss! THIS is my idea of roughing it!
     “Honey”, I said, “I’ll get the s’mores going while you go turn on that outside flat screen TV.” Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya.
     I love NOT camping!

I got this recipe almost 20 years ago, from the Sweetwater Restaurant in Jackson, WY. It is one that I have continued to make over the years and it remains one of our all-time favorites. Grilled Halibut with Thai Nut Relish isn't exactly camping fare, but it is as easy as hotdogs and I guaran-damn-tee you that it tastes a whole lot better. I have made this while "camping" in the coach and we have fine dined under the stars while watching the big sceen. It's got a nice bite, so serve it with an ice cold Pinot Grigio, then grab a second bottle and hit the hot tub! No leech picking required. Go to the "Seafood" tab at the top of this page to view it. (I served it tonight with saffron rice with chives, {snipped fresh from my herb garden} and grilled sesame-ginger zucchini. It was delish, my official-life-long-taste-tester declared!)  
Left: roughing it in Jackson. Why ya'll looking at me--do I look like someone who knows how to build a camp fire?
Below left: the kids in Jackson this past week, which is where we were loving NOT camping. They are giving me their best "I hate camping" look. Below right: sitting around the TV, which I gotta admit, kind of resembles a campfire. Is it just me or do you see the resemblance too? Kumbaya, my Lord....

Jun 17, 2010

There's A Body In My Freezer

     I wasn’t going to talk about it. It’s just too embarrassing and too personal. But then I thought, I can’t just not talk about it. Every twenty minutes, twenty-four hours a day for the past two years IT has interrupted my life. (Warning: If you are a guy reading this, you should probably stop right now because you are not going to want to hear the gory details.)  IT—my friends—is menopause. 
     The night sweats started around two years ago and within a few weeks they were followed by full blown hot flashes. A tingling sensation starts on my scalp, then within seconds my entire head heats up hot enough to fry an egg on. This incinerator force heat moves down my face, over my neck and then on down south, finally exiting through the soles of my feet. By then I have enough moisture running down my back and between my boobs to poach an egg, or at the very least to put out a small kitchen fire.
     After about six months of this picnic, the suicidal tendencies began. My sleep is interrupted about three times an hour as a hot flash covers me in a way that no down comforter can. I flip my pillow over searching for the cool spot and kick the covers off like a two year old throwing a temper tantrum. My poor husband—you know, The Big Guy, he lays there shivering, clinging to a corner of the sheet as all bedding is jettisoned. Sometimes there is sobbing, as one or both of us may be crying ourselves to sleep. I move the .38 off of the nightstand…just in case.
     Daytimes are worse, mostly because I am wearing more clothes. I’ve become quite adept at shucking my outer layer of clothing while driving, shopping, cooking, eating, drinking, walking, and talking. Don't ask me how, but trust me when I say that I happen to be “in the know”, that most nudists are over the age of fifty, which makes me believe that the majority are menopausal women looking for relief, and old guys…just looking. The Big Guy would be on board with this if it meant there would be a snowballs chance in hell that I would quit rolling down the window at 80 mph in the winter and kicking on the AC.
     Six more months pass and I swap suicidal thoughts for homicidal ones. I'm prematurely crabby and want to kill anybody who is not breaking a sweat in 40 degree weather. I hate everyone—even my poor hubby, whom for the most part I do truly love. He looks at me funny now---as if I’m someone who can turn my head 360 degrees. I move the .38 back to the nightstand…just in case.
     Before you judge me as some holistic or sadistic weirdo who won’t take hormones, let me just say that I am not a candidate for that cancer inducing treatment. I do pop herbal supplements like a pain addicted junkie, but have no idea if they are really helping me. I’d like to think that they are because I can’t imagine how unbearable this sweat-fest would be if they weren’t. I was ready to make a deal with the devil when I accidently found some relief for my own personal hell. It’s not the cure, mind you, but it is worth sharing with my hormonal sisters who have the same unwanted belly fat and propensity for murder, that I have.
     So, the other day I go to the freezer looking for something to fix for dinner. It is true that I spend a fair amount of time with my head in the freezer while contemplating dinner, but it was purely accidental when I stumbled upon what has been the best remedy thus far. While debating salmon or sirloin I felt that familiar tingle on my scalp. I stepped up on the ledge (where the door closes) of my Kitchenaide refrigerator/freezer, circa 2005, and found that my face was at the exact spot where the icemaker is. I flipped up that little door and a rush of freezing cold air blasted me, instantly freezing perspiration, frustration and exhaustion. I inhaled a breath of icy relief and made a mental note that if you are under 5’5” and weigh less than 140 pounds you are the perfect size to fit inside the freezer! It’s like it was made for my body! I thought I heard the devil whimpering, frozen in his tracks, as if that bottle of vodka in my hand were a crucifix and I was performing an exorcism.
     So ladies, if your current “treatment” hasn’t curbed your enthusiasm for murder, try sticking your head in your ice maker or climbing into your freezer. If you have a better home remedy or a sure-fire herbal recommendation, please pass it on. I’m completely open to suggestions. But hold that thought for a second…I’ll be right back…I just remembered that I forgot to take something out of the freezer for dinner tonight!

I am going to put my recipe for Killer Crab Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Ailoi, with this post. “Crab” for obvious reasons, but also because they freeze well.  Make up an extra batch and stash them in the far corner of your freezer. You can always pretend that you are looking for them, if you happen to get caught with your head in the freezer for an abnormal amount of time.  Go to the "Appetizer" tab at the top of this page to view it.

Jun 10, 2010

Bacon Is The New Black

Bacon is the little black dress of cuisine. It goes with everything and is as much as a must-have as the classic LBD (little black dress). Right now it is very chic and fashionable  and it is popping up everywhere and in everything from meatballs to muffins to mayo. Besides the obvious, eggs (boring), bacon is being paired with seafood, chicken, pasta, and vegetables. I think I even saw bacon-wrapped bacon on a menu somewhere, but then again maybe I was just dreaming. This bacon revolution makes me very happy because I have loved bacon my whole life. I love peppered bacon, sugared bacon, Canadian bacon, Italian bacon (pancetta), even Kevin Bacon. 
      Vegetarians are dying for the stuff too and they have figured out a way to make BLT’s using tofu, which is a sorry excuse for bacon. I know this to be true, because I know a couple of real life vegetarians and they made me a tofu BLT. The tofu was dressed up with soy sauce and liquid smoke and maybe some other ingredients, then fried up in a pan. It lacked that distinct smell of bacon while cooking, and although it looked like bacon (kind of) and tasted like bacon (kind of), it was thicker than I prefer and had a weird chewy texture, like what I would imagine to be the consistency of semi-cooked-thin-sliced whale blubber. My final thought on it was that tofu should be ashamed of itself for trying to impersonate bacon. Bacon demands respect, dammit!
    I am even happier to announce that bacon is out of the closet and so are bacon lovers. The only reason I, and probably millions of others even did the Atkins diet was because it gave us carte blanche to eat our weight in bacon. Every. Single. Day. I ate it guilt free at a time when bacon was considered taboo, not to mention carcinogenic. I did lose a few pounds but gained a couple of nitrate headaches.
     Now there is something called “Bacon Explosion”. You have to look at these pictures (above) to appreciate its subtle complexity, but I’ll give you a heads up; it looks like something likely to be cooking on the BBQ grill at a NASCAR race or at a reception following your cousin's wedding. (I’m talking about the one where your cousin is the bride and your other cousin is the groom.) Unbelievably, it is bacon seasoned with bacon seasoning then wrapped around Italian sausage, which has been layered with crispy bacon pieces. The whole thing is then rolled up, does a little time on the smoker and then is finally BBQ-ed. It just sounds sick and wrong and delicious! My money says that the real explosion here is your arteries.

     That heart attack aside, bacon in general has gone uptown. Vosges (the best exotic chocolates in the world!) makes an applewood smoked bacon, dark chocolate candy bar! It’s even salted. Three of my favorite things in one bite and worth every stinkin calorie. You know I just had to try it and now I'm a believer that bacon and chocolate love each other! 
     My best idea for that marriage would be redneck bacon meets haute bacon. The result would be Bacon M&M’s that we could buy at Walmart! Seriously!
     But there is more…I was thinking…if someone could figure out a way to infuse bacon in vodka and make a I googled it and sure enough, it has been done! This concoction gives new meaning to the term "Killer Headache". Think about it. After your Bacon Martini hangover you could have a little hair of the dog with a Bacon Bloody Mary then move on to a Bacon-politan for happy hour, followed by a nightcap of a Bacon-Tonic!  You could give up the Atkins diet for a liquid diet and still get to have your bacon and drink it too! 
    Ahhhh…Bacon….It’s what’s for dinner…and breakfast…and lunch…and happy hour!
This is one of my families favorite BLT recipes! It's Bacon, Linguine and Tomato, all lounging in a flavorful cream sauce, loaded with herbs and two cheeses. Our resident expert on pasta and cream sauces (Sierra) has been requesting this dish for over ten years. The picture above was my dinner tonight and it was delish! Go to the "Pasta" tab at the top of this page to view it and then get in the kitchen and make it! Call me, I'll be right over with the martinis!   

Jun 4, 2010

Hello Baby ~ Goodbye Money

My Daughter is a consenting adult, married for almost three years now, so it wasn’t like she needed my permission to… get pregnant. Still, I never saw it coming. How on earth did this happen? was the first thought that popped into my head when she handed me one of those home pregnancy sticks with the pink lines clearly displayed. Thankfully I managed to swallow the words just as I felt them about to tumble from my mouth. I am aware of how these things happen and I don’t need to hear the details. My Son-In-Law looked guilty of something and took a sudden interest in the lint on my carpet. My second thought was, “Oh my God, I am going to be a Grandmother, I better go shopping…I’ve only have eight months left!”
     Well, I’m here to tell you those first few months of shopping were HELL, even for someone who considers themselves a professional. I was drawn to everything pink—there is more of it and it is so much cuter than the blue stuff. A sales lady did me a huge favor by prying a tutu out of my hands when I fessed up and told her that we didn’t yet know if the baby was a boy or a girl. “Honey”, she said, shaking her head and forcing the handful of pink tulle out of my fist, “this is one thing that just can’t go either way.” She was right; I could almost see The Baby Daddy signing over adoption papers and the Two Grandpas notarizing them. No way in hell was their boy going to wear a tutu! So I bought diapers…and lots of them. 
     A month or so later Daughter has an ultra-scan and everyone in the room (5 adults with 20/20 vision) swears they see a dumbstick! (it should be noted here that “dumbstick” is my word—not the in-laws who were in the room, word)’s boy...I'm fine with that. Boy is code for, “this is going to save me a $#!% load of money!” I immediately quit looking at paisley and start admiring camo. I buy cute little navy boat shoes, a Ralph Lauren polo shirt, a little golf outfit that says “Daddy’s Caddy” and an adorable outfit that has a little excavator on it. His Grandpa will be so proud, I think as I slide my credit card across the counter!
Everything is going well, no morning sickness, she's really happy, (see picture at left) no mood swings (wink, wink), cute little bump showing. She takes her prenatal vitamins and does what most pregnant cowgirls do—she has the veterinarian give her an ultra-sound. “Girl”, the vet says, like he knows what he’s talking about. Well, this changes everything! I stop looking at Carharts and go back to buying diapers while I wait for someone with an OBGYN behind their name to confirm this. 
Finally a few weeks later the MD concurs with the DVM. The shopping Gods smile on me and darling girl-baby-stuff practically multiplies in front of my eyes as I walk through department stores. I blow the dust of a credit card that I haven’t used in months and practice blushing while looking shocked,  as cashiers tell me I "can’t possibly be old enough to be a grandmother,” which triggers a weird reflex that causes me to throw another onesie on the pile. The other Grandma-To-Be is on the same mission, so pink and zebra and cute stuff pile up in the new pink and zebra and cute bedroom.      
   So here's the countdown:  $1240 later we have accumulated approximately 800 diapers, made 95 purchases that include 40-some outfits. It's 3 months until the due date when 2 families will be blessed with 1 little baby girl!  

Savannah’s all time favorite meal is her Grandma Di's Chicken & Dumplins. As a little girl she requested them on a regular basis and Mom always complied. They would mix up a batch of noodles and Mom would roll them out and Savannah would cut them. Using an old wooden spoon that had once belonged to MY Great Grandma, they would stir up the dumplins. Together, their hands held onto that old spoon as mom guided it around the bowl. The result was shockingly tender dumpling that soaked up the chicken broth, and thick, hearty, uneven and sometimes odd shaped noodles. Sadly, my mother is not here to make noodles and dumplins with the little girl who would have been her first great grandchild, but I’m sure she would want me to keep that old wooden spoon and the recipe alive.  Go to the "Beef-Pork-Chicken" tab at the top of the page to view it.