Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Vacation at the coast

Way back in July (seems like years ago already) my family and I spent a week camping at the north Oregon coast, and I'm just now getting around to making a post about it, so please forgive me for my tardiness.

We stayed at Fort Stevens state park and spent lots of time exploring the different forts and museums in the area.

Fort Stevens was built during the civil war to protect the mouth of the Columbia river and was in use until after WWII. We also ventured across the river to the Washington side and visited Fort Columbia, Fort Steven's counter part on the north side of the river. Had a great time, even though the weather wasn't the best.

Fort Stevens holds the honor of being the only main-land military installation to receive hostile fire during WWII. In June 1942 a Japanese submarine fired 17 shells at Battery Russell, but caused no damage except taking out the backstop at the baseball field and several telephone cables.

My youngest step-son Mattie playing in a jeep at the museum at Ft. Stevens
Loading Mattie into a cannon

Looking down on the West Battery @ Ft. Stevens from the Commander's Station

Walking up to the Commander's Station

In the commander's station

Back side of the cmdr's station

Looking over to Battery Pratt from the cmdr's station
On top of Battery Pratt. On the left is where the disappearing gun would be. I apparently didn't get a picture of it but they have a replica of the gun in there. It was down out of view from the river, and would pop up to fire, then drop back down for reloading and to keep the crews safe.

Inside battery pratt. The rails on the ceiling were used to haul the ammunition from the storage rooms over to the pulleys where they'd be hoisted up to the crew on top for loading.

Closeup of a sign at Battery 245 @ Ft. Stevens
Mattie posing in the tool room inside btry 245

Steven playing zombie in the Shell room of btry 245

Mattie posing at the rifle range @ ft stevens

better view of the rifle range. This is the "down range" side where the crews would hoist up and take down the targets.
The boys posing on a huge anchor outside the Columbia River maritime museum.

Boys playing on a small beach as a Bar Pilot ship comes back into the marina

The Astoria Column above the city of Astoria.
Yes, I did haul my fat butt all the way up to the top. My legs were jello for a good two hours afterwards! lol. Looking south from the top of the column. Just outside the picture to the right is Ft. Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark spent 106 days from December 1805 to March 1806.

A pair of Bald Eagles flew past as we were on top of the column

We also stopped by the "Goonie" house in Astoria, if anyone remembers the movie The Goonies from the 80s

On to Fort Columbia on the Washington side of the river.

Panorama of Battery Murphy @ ft columbia

Looking up at the barracks and mess hall from btry Ord

Back side of Battery Ord

the boys playing "jail" inside the battery

Coming up from inside Battery Murphy, gun emplacement on the left

 One of the replica guns at Battery 246

Mattie posing with the gun at Btry 246

We also stopped by one of the many light houses while up in Washington. I'm surprised I didn't get an overall picture of the lighthouse, but here's one from the base looking up.

Me and the boys posing at the base

The lightkeeper's station

Me with the two fuel storage houses from back when they used oil burning lamps in the lighthouse

Looking south from the lighthouse. You can see the north and south jetties of the Columbia river in the distance.

And of course being at the beach we couldn't help but do some playing in the water.

Looking south on Indian Beach. For you "Twilight" movie fans (my wife is a huge fan) you may recognize this. This is the beach they filmed the surfing scenes on, and where Jacob tells Bella about the Cold Ones.

Well, that's all I have for now. In all it was a great camping trip, and I can't wait to do it again soon!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Saucijzenbroodjes (sausage rolls)

Here's a quick easy Dutch recipe for you. Saucijzenbroodjes are just sausage rolled up in puff pastry and baked. They use uncased sausage, but the alternate version, called Worstbroodjes, uses small cased sausage. In this version I'm making Saucijzenbroodjes.

The original recipe calls for ground beef/pork mix, with Mace, Nutmeg and black pepper for seasoning. But I was lazy so I just used some Sage flavored Jimmy Dean sausage. This simple recipe only requires 3 things: Sausage, Puff Pastry and an Egg.

Once the Puff Pastry is thawed out, cut it into squares. I cut one sheet into 9 equal(ish) squares.

Then you take a small piece of sausage, and roll it into a "log" shape. I always have a tendency to stuff too much sausage in them, as you'll see later it doesn't really hurt anything, but they don't look quite as good.
Once they're filled, fold the pastry over, and seal the edges with a fork, and put them on a baking sheet.

When you have them all crimped and put on a baking sheet, mix a little water with the egg and beat it well, then brush it over the rolls and coat them well. Be sure not to drip any on the sheet, as it makes a mess when baking. As you can see, I'm not real good at not dripping.

Then, simply pop them into a 350 oven for about half an hour... until the tops are nice and brown. As you can see, I over filled this again, and they blew out the side. Still nice and tasty, but don't look quite as good.

Eet Smakelijk! (That'd be the Dutch version of Bon Appetit!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Makin' pizza.

Home Made BBQ Pulled Pork Pizza, from scratch

Gosh it's been quite a while since I've posted anything on here, so I guess I should start again.

I decided to try my hand at making pizza the other day. After much searching online and perusing dozens of recipes I decided on one from Food Network's Alton Brown.

  • 16 ounces all-purpose flour, plus extra for peel and rolling
  • 1 envelope instant or rapid rise yeast
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 10 ounces warm water, approximately 105 degrees F
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons for bowl
  • 1 tablespoon malted barley syrup
All pretty standard stuff, except the malted barley. I had to go to a natural food store to get it, and it was pretty expensive. Next time I'm going to the home-brew supply store, it's much cheaper there, and many different options for it. Anyway, I didn't have instant yeast so I just used regular active dry yeast. I think I need to get some new yeast though, since it never did rise very much. The yeast is almost a year beyond it's expiration date, so probably time to pitch it and get new stuff anyway.

The next stumble was I couldn't find the dough hook for my mixer and ended up kneading it by hand. That was a ton of work. Took me almost 45 minutes of kneading to get the "baker's window" to form in the dough. Guess my kneading technique is pretty rusty and I should do it more often!

Once it was kneaded, I let it rise in the over with just the light on for about an hour. As I said I don't think the yeast was very healthy since it hadn't quite doubled in that time. At that point, I punched down the dough and rolled it into three balls and put it in the fridge overnight.

Now we get to the fun part. Are you ready for some pictures? I finally have some! Here is the dough just out of the fridge, warming up while I get everything else ready.

The pizza was a bbq pulled pork pizza, with some left over pulled pork, bacon, sauteed onions, pineapple and pepperoncini. Mmmm. Drooling already.

I took about four strips of bacon and cut them into small pieces and fried them until just a little crispy. I also cut up about half of a red onion into thin slices and fried them in the bacon grease until just translucent.

Up next was rolling out the dough. I think I should have let the dough sit out a little more and relax, because it was still a little "springy" when I tried to roll it out. I used a combination of rolling out with a pin and hand-tossing. This was the first time I've ever tried to hand toss a pizza and I sure wasn't very good at it, but at least none of it ended up on the kitchen floor, and I didn't tear it. I was aiming for about 1/4" thick, but it didn't quite get there. It wasn't very even either. Some of the first one was almost paper thin, while towards the edges it was more like 3/8" thick. Oh well, it's a learning experience right? Here's the first one after rolling, I haven't yet tried tossing it. Now it's time for the toppings.

I started with a little bit of barbecue sauce. I just used store-bought bottled stuff, since I didn't have any of mine handy. I think it was Sweet Baby Ray's original. In hind sight, I was a little light on the sauce and it could have used more. Not a whole lot more, but probably half again as much as I did. In the finished pizza you couldn't really taste the BBQ sauce at all. On top of the BBQ sauce I put fair amount of left-over pulled pork and the sauteed onions. Then it got a light sprinkling of shredded "Italian" cheese. I can't remember exactly what the blend was, but most likely Mozzarella and Provolone, maybe something else in there. It was a store bought pre-shredded pack. On top of that went the bacon and pineapple pieces and the pepperoncini slices and it all got covered with a little more cheese. Time to get the oven up to speed and bake these babys!

For our recent wedding my wife and I were given a pampered chef pizza stone, so this was a great time to try it out. It went onto the bottom rack in the cold oven, and the oven was set to 550. Took it about half an hour to get up to temp, but that's ok, I was busy making the pizzas while this was happening. Once everything was ready it was time to get the pizzas into the oven. The recipe said to use a pizza peel or the back of a cookie sheet. Well not having a peel I went the cookie sheet route. Next time I'm definitely getting a peel. Despite heavily flouring the back of the cookie sheet, it was almost impossible to get the pizza off and onto the stone. I eventually got it done and only lost one big piece of pork. Oh well. 7 minutes at 550 proved to be just right. Again not having a peel, taking the pizza out consisted of using a spatula to lift up a corner and sliding a plate underneath it while sort of shuffling it onto the plate with the spatula. Not the easiest, but it worked. A peel is in my near future though.

In all the pizzas were excellent, with a nice crisp, yet chewy crust. The only thing lacking was the BBQ sauce flavor. These are definitely on the list to make again.