Tag Archives: food

Swedish Friday! (Kräftskivor edition)

A paper kräftskiva lamp.

Image via Wikipedia

We’re a bit behind schedule but today Mrs. TwShiloh and I will be hosting our Swedish crayfish party.  In preparation we made our mandatory trip to Mecca Ikea to pick up the crayfish…

Crayfish Party!
And other than that, the only requirement is ample supplies of akvavit and a willingness to phonetically sing Swedish drinking songs…

But this celebration has a long heritage…going back half a millenium.

Eating crawfish – and they have many dialectal names in English – goes back to the time of King Erik XIV in the 16th century. His highness was known to have farmed the crusty crawlers in his moat at Kalmar Castle. The native species in Sweden, flodkräfor, are generally referred to as the noble crayfish.

It was the end of the 19th century when the current tradition of eating crawdaddies whole, cold and basking in the dill weed water they were boiled in began. That was an age when it became popular to send off the summer sitting on verandas or out in the garden while quietly cracking a shell.

How about a snack?

Mark Bittman continues to astound via his ‘How to Cook Everything Vegetarian‘ cookbook.  Mrs. TwShiloh and I were facing an avalanche of zucchini and so I decided, in a fit of ‘what the hell’ abandon, to try a crazy recipe at random with the ingredient.  I chose ‘Eggplant and zucchini salad with cinnamon’.  Sounds gross, right?  Well, it did to me but I didn’t care.

I’m just a rebel that way.

Well, shiver me timbers if it wasn’t good.  Better than good.  I usually only have cinnamon around the holidays and with sweets but the addition of a chili  gave the dish some burn and made an interesting (and welcome) flavor combination.  Very easy to make as well.

  • 1 med. eggplant (cut into 1 inch cubes)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 med. zucchini (roughly chopped)
  • 1 med onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced chile (type depends on how much burn you’d like)
  • 1 med tomato (cored and roughly chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 minced fresh mint leaves for garnish
  1. 2 tablespoons in a large skillet over medium heat.  When hot, add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally until soft and golden (about 10 minutes).  Remove and drain on paper towels
  2. Put the other 2 tablespoons in the skillet and add the zucchini, stirring, until they just start to wilt (about 2 minutes).  Add the onion and chile, cooking for another minute or two.  Add the tomato and cinnamon, cooking for another minute.  Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and add salt and pepper.
  3. Combine all the ingredients in a salad bowl, mixing well.  Let cool to room temperature and eat.  Sprinkle with the mint leaves just before serving.

Chicken (of the woods) fingers

After a far too long absence, I was finally able to return to my Fortress of Solitude recently in order to harmonize my karmic balance.  Upon entering my fiefdom, I was pleasantly surprised to see this:

It is, if you remember some earlier posts on the subject, a (Laetiporus sulphureus, Laetiporus cincinnatus) or a Chicken of the Woods.  A highly prized and delicious mushroom.  I was surprised because when I find these it’s usually in the September/October time frame.  This one was quite large and and Mrs. TwShiloh and I decided to accept this manna from heaven and harvest it.  Since this was larger than previous versions I’ve harvested before we were challenged with what to do with this.  Normally, I saute it in chunks and freeze it for later use (they stand up quite well to freezing and thawing) but we simply don’t have that much freezer space and we wanted a few more options.  So, I froze some but we also dehydrated a bunch (less bulk and more storage options) and I made a batch of potato/mushroom soup on the fly for freezing.

But, the real treat of such a find is making some fresh meals with this mushroom.  So, we gorged ourselves on mushrooms this weekend with some simple butter saute and (an old favorite) Chicken (of the woods) fingers.

So, you can see this mushroom looks very much like cooked chicken breast and it does have a similar texture and taste (Although, you should keep in mind that he hasn’t eaten chicken in seven years so he might not be the best person to evaluate it’s similarity to chicken.  eds.)

Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus, Laetiporus cincinnatus)A bit of breading (actually a re-purposed corn meal based fish fry breading I had laying around) and a quick tour in a pan with some oil and voila!

Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus, Laetiporus cincinnatus)We tried a few options for dipping but we found that plain old ketchup was the best (followed by a ketchup/BBQ sauce combo).  Goes quite well with a beer.

Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus, Laetiporus cincinnatus)

Kvick Tänkare

If you liked the HBO series ‘Rome’ (or even if you didn’t but like the time period) you’re in for a treat.  It appears they’re developing a series based on the Robert Graves novel ‘I, Claudius‘.

From the ‘better late than never’ file, i09 has a pretty good post about ten interesting items for consideration regarding the movie ‘The Dark Knight’.  The one that caught my eye from an intelligence perspective was:

Crime and anarchy are not allies.


So, I know you’ve been wondering what Steve Martin has been doing lately.  Apparently, still pickin’ on his banjo.

embedded by Embedded Video

vimeo Direkt

An archeological find in Germany sheds some new light on the evolution of the exploding artillery shells.

It seems that around 1450, craftsmen began filling “hollow iron balls” with gunpowder for use as shot. Many times, the technique failed. The cannoneers first had to reach into the mortar’s opening, light the bomb’s fuse, then quickly fire the weapon. If their timing was off, the entire cannon would blow up in their faces before the projectile had left the barrel. They also often failed to correctly calculate the projectile’s trajectory, a process done using quadrants. And sometimes the fuse went out in flight.

The shells now discovered…”was also coated with bitumen and wrapped in rough cloth,” Hüser adds.

The researcher surmises this signifies that the metal ball self-ignited from the heat at the moment it was fired from the cannon and burned as it whizzed through the air.

Even though I’m a vegetarian (well, kinda-sorta) I avoid tomatoes during that time of the year I can’t get them fresh.  Call me a snob but the taste difference is stark and it’s simply not worth my time to buy something that has such poor taste.  Since I’m always interested in people who validate my preexisting views, I was attracted to this excerpt of an new book about…tomatoes.

…fresh tomatoes today have 30 percent less vitamin C, 30 percent less thiamin, 19 percent less niacin, and 62 percent less calcium than they did in the 1960s. But the modern tomato does shame its 1960s counterpart in one area: It contains fourteen times as much sodium.

But there’s an even darker side to industrial tomato production”

South Florida’s tomato fields are “ground zero for modern-day slavery.” Molloy is not talking about virtual slavery, or near slavery, or slaverylike conditions, but real slavery. In the last 15 years, Florida law enforcement officials have freed more than 1,000 men and women who had been held and forced to work against their will in the fields of Florida, and that represents only the tip of the iceberg.

From the TwShiloh menu – Manchurian cauliflower

Cover of "How to Cook Everything Vegetari...

What it looks like in case you're too lazy to click the link. Cover via Amazon

We got this recipe from Mark Bittman’s most excellent How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

It’s listed as an appetizer but Mrs. TwShiloh and I take full advantage in our status as adult human beings and gorge ourselves on this until we resemble bloated ticks and damn the main course to hell!

Super easy to make (although moderately messy) you can get cauliflower haters to embrace this treat.

Manchurian Cauliflower

manchurian cauliflower

Image by h-bomb via Flickr


  • Corn oil for frying
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large or 2 small heads cauliflower, cored, trimmed and separated into florets
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
  1. Put an inch or two of oil into a deep pan and turn heat to ‘medium-high’
  2. Beat eggs and cornstarch together until well blended.  Add salt and pepper.
  3. Add cauliflower to the mixture and coat thoroughly
  4. Fry the cauliflower in batches small enough to not crowd your pan.  Fry until florets take on a pale, sandy color with a little brown mottling.  About 5 minutes.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  5. Warm 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook for about a minute (until fragrent but not colored).  Add the ketchup and stir for about 5 minutes (until it bubbles, starts to thicken and carmalizes around the edges).  Add the cayenne pepper and more salt (if necessary).  Stir in the cauliflower until even coated.  Serve.



Kvick Tänkare

Remember this chart when you hear how China/Iran/North Korea/etc. pose an existential threat to us.  If so, are we getting our money’s worth?

h/t phronesisaical

It’s asparagus season in Germany.  I can remember every restaurant and inn in every town having asparagus on their daily special boards in Spring.  There’s nothing like some good white asparagus soup.  mmmmmmmm

Speaking of Europe…Eurovision is right around the corner and I always enjoying looking for gems in the sugary-sweet pop wasteland which most of the entrants occupy.  I’m always rooting for rock incursions onto the field and Turkey might be the one to watch with this song:

The Swedes are digging up one of their oldest kings:  Magnus III Ladulås.  Basically, they’re doing it to find out who’s buried with him.

He was the first Magnus to rule Sweden for any length of time, not generally regarded as a usurper or a pretender (but third Magnus to have been proclaimed Sweden’s king and ruled there). Later historians ascribe his epithet “Ladulås” to a decree of 1279 or 1280 freeing the yeomanry from the duty to provide sustenance for travelling nobles and bishops (“Peasants! Lock your barns!”)…

Speaking of Swedish kings…Carl Gustav just went to Afghanistan.

Mrs. TwShiloh tried to tell me the visit fits with his character because ‘he likes the outdoors’.  I suspect he didn’t go to Afghanistan for a little hike but rather as an initial step to his twisted plan for military conquest of the world.  As I’ve mentioned in the past there’s ample evidence that the king has been engaged in a scheme to create an army of the zombies and I’m sure he was in Afghanistan to oversee tests of their initial release.

Flyover country again…

I just returned from a week in Lincoln, Nebraska.  For the second time this year I’ve had my preconvienced notions of ‘flyover country’ shattered (well, not all of them, it’s pretty flat out there).  Still, my smug East Coast attitude is beginning to crack around the edges.

If you happen to find yourself in merry ol’ Lincoln may I recommend Brewski’s which (on Thursdays at least) had a great set of ‘dueling pianos’.  I was sold with their rendition of Snoop Dogg‘s ‘Gin and Juice‘  and it only got better from there.

Nebraska boasts a decent selection of local beers which I highly recommend.  I tried many types ranging from pale ales to porters and don’t recall getting a bad one.

Another bar worthy of checking out is the ‘Starlight Lounge‘ which is (I think) a satellite operation (and attached to) a restaurant called ‘Buzzard Billy’s‘ (also worth checking out.  The lounge is decorated in late 60’s/early 70’s blue vinyl and was fantastic.  Even if it wasn’t, however, the evening would have been worth it based on the following snippit of conversation I heard while entering the restroom (two guys were talking to each other):

“…so I went home and googled it and found out there’s this whole fetish around women wearing casts.  It’s like regular porn except the woman has a cast on her arm or leg.  Yeah…cast porn.”  (Hey, do me a favor and finish reading this before you jump to google and search it, okay?  And don’t pretend you aren’t gonna do it…we both know you are.)

I don’t really know anything about sports but Lincolners (Lincolnites?  Lincolnese?) seem to be unusually enthusiastic attachment to their local college football team (the Cornhuskers).  I don’t really get the name.  I mean, don’t teams pick mascots that indicate the level of fieceness or determination to win?  Are people who husk corn particularly driven to that sort of thing?  I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explaination for this but I feared my question might enrage the residents so I thought the best course of action was to keep my mouth shut.

Nebraskans are yet another group of people who are generally nicer than my Northeastern brethern.  I’m confident, however, that we’re MUCH better prepared for the zombie apocalypse (really, who doesn’t know that you have to destroy the brain to keep a zombie down?).

The airport in Lincoln has one of those full body scanners but, yet again, I was thwarted from making a scene and demanding a pat down when I was directed through a regular metal detector.  Damn you TSA!!!  I had three hours to kill!

On the other hand it didn’t look that they were directing many people through the scanner.  In fact, I’d almost say it was there for show but they finally sent one poor sap through it.

Oh…I wrote this in Chicago Midway airport on Friday night.  My only story to tell from here:  I see a young couple across from me talking, flirting, etc. (I can’t hear what as I’ve got my headphones on) but I just saw the woman pick the man’s nose and seconds later kiss him.  I have no idea what the hell kind of mating ritual that is but it kind of freaked me out.

Update:  Oh! And I forgot the weirdest thing of all.  Apparently, Lincolners (or maybe Nebraskans in general) have a favorite local dish which is comprised of a bowl of chili and a cinnamon bun which they use for dipping.  I have to admit the thought of that makes me throw up a bit in my mouth.  Still, they swear by it (it was on at least one menu I saw) and claim that it’s in regular rotation in the school lunch program along with carrot sticks.  What the hell, I guess if you’re already going to commit culinary homicide by mashing up a cinnamon bun and chili it’s probably too much to expect sense to be made with the sides.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Light posting for this weekend…Americans will be too busy digesting massive quantities of turkey to care about the internet and foreigners will…will…what do you do when we stop paying attention?

Even though Thanksgiving is an American holiday, I’d like to send my best wishes to my foreign readers and say that you are included in the list of things I’m thankful for.

Now, for those of you wondering what we’ll be having at the TwShiloh Mountain Redoubt ™ this year, the menu will be:

  • Virginia peanut soup
  • Wild rice with chestnuts
  • Cornbread stuffing
  • Green beans
  • Corn
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Turkey (yes, Thanksgiving is the one day a year I break my vegetarian fast which, I’m sure, one turkey is NOT thankful for.  On the positive side, it was a free range, vegetarian-fed turkey.)
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Cranberry wine
  • And…of course…Brains

All dishes will be lactose AND gluten free for Mrs. TwShiloh.


Talking about Afghanistan over some tea

Allow me to recommend Adagio teas (No – this isn’t a paid endorsement – wait for a sec and the link to Afghanistan will become clear).   I’m a big tea drinker and they’ve not only got a nice selection of teas but you can actually fashion your own blends.

And so, (here’s the connection to Afghanistan you’ve been waiting so patiently for) I made my own that I’m calling ‘Parwan Blend‘.  I attempted to capture my ten months there in a cup of tea and after tasting it last night think I did a pretty good job.

I describe it thusly:

A mix of lapsang souchong (to recreate the smokey taste and smells of open cooking areas), almond (a nod to the ever present candied almonds that were present at most meetings with local elders and officials) and peppermint (to balance the other two and capture the essence of the ‘lightness’ of the Afghan tea I frequently drank) teas.

The smokey lapsang hits you first but dissipates pretty quickly followed by a long almond finish with the mint subtly underlying the whole endeavor.  I’ve only had it straight so can’t tell you what it’d be like iced, with sweetner or milk but if it’s from TwShiloh, it’s GOT to be good!

Best to think of this as a tea ‘inspired’ by Afghanistan rather than trying to replicate the taste of the tea that I actually had there.  In the same way some movies are ‘inspired’ by true events…

For $10 you can get 3oz. of the stuff which is a sizable amount.  For full disclosure I think if a bunch of people buy the stuff I get some free tea or something but really, I just dig tea and thought the ability to blend your own stash was pretty cool.

Now, buckle up and brew some tea because I’ve got some Afghan posts in the hopper.

In which I demonstrate I can follow a recipe

Mark Bittman‘s book “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” is, quite frankly, brilliant.  We had a ton of produce from our CSA and I needed to do something with it…fast.  Tomato sauce is easy and I made a bunch, ‘getting rid’ of the extra tomatoes that were accumulating everywhere like tribbles.   So, cracking open this massive tome I found and made:

Indian Style Pumpkin Soup

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 lbs pumpkin (or squash) cut into 1-2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (I used a white onion but I don’t think it matters)
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon each:  minced garlic, minced, fresh ginger, curry powder
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

Heat the butter on medium-high and once it’s melted, add the pumpkin and onion.  Cook until the onion is soft (the book says 5 minutes but I had a small pot and had to keep stirring it to distribute the heat so it took longer).  Add the garlic, ginger and curry powder and cook for an additional minute or so.  Add the stock, bring to a boil and lower the heat so you’ve just got a little bubbling action going.  Partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.

Puree the soup (I ladled it out into a blender and did it in batches).  Once it’s all pureed, put it back on the stove on low heat and mix in the coconut milk and the cilantro.

I served it over rice made with vegetable broth, rather than water to add a bit more flavor. Very filling, very tasty.

Particularly good with some nice, substantial bread.