Banana Bread from The Islands, Mon!

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My culinary career began as a Charter Boat Chef in the Virgin Islands. How I got there is an entirely different story. I was 23 years old and was not much of a cook OR a Chef; I had a lot of learning to do.

My fellow galley slaves shared their knowledge and their books and recommended the two pictured below for best bets. The recipes featured in these cookbooks all came from seasoned Charter Boat Chefs who totally understand how challenging it is to cook 3 squares a day, plus appetizers and desserts for 8-12 people in a space the size of small bathroom.

Yet another conundrum is the fact that over 50 boats are all vying for the freshest of produce, dairy, meat, booze, you name it. This is improvisational cuisine at its’ finest.

Anyhoo…..I had a bunch of bananas turning brown and got a hankering to make some bread. The best recipe I’ve ever used for Banana Bread is in the original “Ship to Shore”, page 36. Yes, I remembered that.

I’ve had these books with me for over 30 years. Food preparation, ingredients, method and technique have changed dramatically in all that time. But you really can’t mess with a solid Banana Bread. Enjoy!

P.S. I lost my loaf pans in the move to Wallace, so I decided to make muffins….and then I mixed it up and made a cream cheese frosting. I guess you can mess with it, but it’s still pretty tasty.

Bread

8 0z. Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Cups Mashed, very ripe bananas
4 eggs
1 t. Vanilla
2 Cups Flour
1 T. Baking Powder
1/2 t. Salt

Pre-heat oven to 350.
I use a kitchen-aid, but you can use beaters or a spoon.
Cream the sugar and butter until smooth, add the eggs, one at a time and incorporate. Add bananas and vanilla and mix well. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt. Scrape the sides well.

If using a loaf pan, greases and flour it and cook for about 1 hour. If using muffin tin, spray the paper cups with vegetable oil and cook about 45 minutes. Watch them closely, the high content of butter can make them burn quickly.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, Softened
8 oz. Cream Cheese
1 t. Vanilla
3 Cups Powdered Sugar (more if needed)

Cream butter, cream cheese and vanilla until smooth. Slowly incorporate powdered sugar until you get the consistency you like.

Lore of The Reuben

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While having an ‘after shifter’ with our team the other night, our musings walked us down the road to our Reuben Sandwich. A pic of the 1313 Clubs’ creation had recently been featured as a cover photo for North Idaho Life Foodies and we were really excited about it! Knowing just a wee bit about this concoction, I poured another Bourbon and shed some light on the subject.

If you think about it, this is actually one hell of an international composition. Irish Corned Beef, German Sauerkraut, Russian Dressing, Swiss Cheese, and Jewish Rye. It’s as if a few folks from the UN got together, downed a pint or two and made a team sandwich.

The controversy surrounding the birth of the Reuben run old and run deep and are somewhat amusing. I mean, seriously, a one-hundred-year old debate about the genesis of a lunch menu item? Chest thumping origins date from 1914 to 1937.

Arnold Reuben, founder of New York’s Reuben’s Restaurant and Delicatessen, claims the creation was inspired in 1914 by an out of work actress who may or may not have been a Charlie Chaplin paramour. In an interview in 1937, Arnold details the ingredients of his “man sized sandwich” which does not include either corned beef or pastrami. So, there you go.

Another New Yorker, Jacob Reuben, felt that his family’s Jewish Orthodox ways were uncool. Right? Jacob moved out of the family abode and was one the first Jews in Brooklyn to have just one kitchen – the other he converted into a study. Jake laid said “Dibs” around 1925 whilst working the deli he opened in line with his career as a butcher. Corroborating accounts for this “Reuben” don’t rank highly.

Lithuanian born Reuben Kulakofsky hailed from Omaha, Nebraska and his claim appears more widely accepted. At about the same time that the Dagwood and Blondie comic strip hit the scene (circa 1933), Mr. Kulakofsky was a wholesale grocer and co-owner of the Central Market in Omaha. “Kay”, as he was affectionately known, spent quite a bit of time with his poker buddies. They called themselves “The Committee” and liked to create sandwiches that sated them after rigorous hours of bluffing and puffing. One of the regulars at the table, Charles Schimmel, owned The Blackstone Hotel and put the sandwich on his menu; must have been Reuben’s lucky night.

Rather than put my stamp on any one in particular, I’m going to take the safe route and assume that The Reuben simply evolved. But who cares anyway? Along with the fact that this sandwich is my personal favorite, it has a lot of lore behind it. You’ve got to admit that with so many people clamoring for ownership rights there’s just something special about The Reuben. Come see us at 1313 Club and take a bite of history.

Kabocha Apple Soup ~ Chef Jeremy Pacheco

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If velvet could actually be licked and swallowed, this is the soup that would fit the bill!! Good friend and great Chef, Jeremy Pacheco, gave us this recipe. It’s quite simple to make and simply delicious!

Kabocha Apple soup
Yield: 1 quart – 5 portions

INGREDIENTS
Kabocha squash, seeded 1 lb
Apple, skin on, no core 8 oz
Shallots, julienne 3 oz
Chicken stock 3 cups
Meyer lemon oil 1/2 cup

Season the squash and apple with salt, black white pepper and olive oil and roast at 325 for 25 minutes. Sauté the shallots in olive oil. Add the roasted squash and apple. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Blend in the vitamix adding the meyer lemon oil. Rectify seasoning if necessary.

Garnish:

Guancialle – small dice 1 oz. (otherwise known as face bacon. if you can’t find this, use pancetta)
Pumpkin seed – roasted 5 pieces

NOTES:
For each serving: Render diced guanciale, place guanciale and roasted pumpkin seed in bottom of bowl. Pour soup over the top.

…….and Razzleberry Dressing!

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“….and razzleberry dressing.”

The razzleberry, fruit or fiction? I’ve oft pondered this question since I first heard the “Razzleberry Dressing” song written by Mr. MaGoo and sung by Tiny Tim in the 1962 musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

I went a’googling and found several interesting excerpts from pundit play lands, such as Wikipedia and dictionary.com. Thus: “A Razzleberry is a small seeded berry of the genus Razellus, predominantly found in New Guinea.” There is also a flowering plant of the same name which has no culinary applications. I also read that a razzleberry is not a berry in and of itself, but is merely a combination of blackberries and raspberries, generally baked in a pie.

Not content with these explanations, I dug out my careworn copy of A Christmas Carol and scoured the text for any mention of said berry. Sadly, none was found. However, Dickens does offer up glorious descriptions of Victorian Era foodstuffs when old Ebenezer spends some quality time with The Ghost of Christmas Present.

In fact, this lovable and laudable spirit is surrounded by all manner of food and drink when Scrooge first sets eyes on him in the anteroom of his bed chamber. As The Ghost of Christmas Present leads Scrooge through London in the mid-1800’s, Dickens writes of the Spanish Onion’s resemblance to fat Spanish Friars and observes fresh pears and apples; and, the juicy compactness of lemons to slice and stir into your gin. The poulterers’ (Dickens word, not mine) wares of squab, turkey, goose and all manner of beef, fish, lamb and pork are all available. Did you know that 19th century Englanders were connoisseurs of raw oysters? Wonders never cease.

The spice trade had been well established by this time and we read of sage and cinnamon, minced pies filled with sweet and savory goodies. I love the fact that upon the visit to Bob Cratchit’s house, Mrs. Cratchit is as nervous about the doneness of her pudding as we are today about a dry turkey.

It’s funny where one question can take you, isn’t it? I was simply curious about the existence of a razzleberry which prompted me to read, yet again, the tale of the reinvention of a single man and how that one man’s transformation affected so many.

We all have the power to confront our demons, recall our blessings and share what we have with those we love and those who are less fortunate. Charles Dickens was a victim of society’s indifference to the plight of children. His ability to look at the world from the point of view of both little people and big is one of the reasons his works are loved by so many.

Speaking of children, it’s the time of year to connect with the one that lives in you. The one who is first out the door to play in the new fallen snow; the one who has just learned the joys of giving; the one who sings Christmas carols in the shower and watches the night sky for a glimpse of a magical sleigh. In the words of Tiny Tim and Charles Dickens, “God Bless us, Every One!”

Merry Christmas!!!

Welcome to Wallace!

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Have you ever dreamed of living in a Main Street Community in the mountains of Northern Idaho? How about owning a building erected in the late-1800’s which houses an historic saloon & grill? Wait, wait, there’s more…. this dream comes with the option to reside in a totally kick butt loft. Yea, never in my wildest dreams; but it happened, and here’s how.

In the summer of 2016 I road tripped up to Sandpoint, ID to visit one of my best friends and the ‘magic’ of Northern Idaho hit me like a Mack Truck; less serious injury or nasty scars, of course.

Two months later, Keith and I came up together and that Mack Truck hit him harder than it did me. Our original plan was to purchase a 5 to 10-acre piece of land, build a cabin, start raising livestock and live the dream. Long story short, 10 months later we stumbled upon Wallace and a little bird told us that 1313 Club was for sale. We came, we gasped and we signed on! This idyllic town has captured our hearts and is now the place we call home.

We’d like to extend a gynormous THANK YOU to the community of Wallace and The Silver Valley for such a warm welcome and generous support. Kudos to real estate agents, Ryan Schuster, and Jim Hendrixson for their guidance. Finally, many warm wishes to Dean and Jill Cooper for making sure we were comfortable and ready to make a go of this on our own. Our deep appreciation for your gracious time, energy and the desire for us to succeed is beyond words.

You never know where life may take you. After many years of contemplation, planning and wonder, in the end, we decided to let it take us where it may and we landed in a dream. We feel so Welcome in Wallace!

Peace Out,

Heidi and Keith