Category Archives: Food

Jim’s Turkey Brine Recipe

I’ve had several requests for my turkey brine and herb paste recipes. In a just-in-time fashion, I’ve posted them below. I use an organic, range raised heritage turkey for my Thanksgiving turkey. I also use this brine for pork chops and turkey breasts that I cook on the grill.

Continue reading

Jim’s Fire and Wine Scallops Recipe

Scallops with Green and White Bean salad

Scallops with Green and White Bean salad

The sauce and spice mix add a little heat and sweetness to the already sweet scallops. This recipe takes about 15 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to cook. I served these with a cold Green and White bean salad and crostini and an Italian white wine. This serves two as a main course or four as an appetizer.


  • 1/4 C minced sweet onion (Walla Walla or similar)
  • 1 Tsp. Fresh Thyme leaves or chopped Thyme tips
  • 1 clove of garlic peeled
  • 1/2 C. White Wine – medium dry
  • 12 Oz of large dry scallops or the closest even number (8 in this dish)
  • 1 Tbl each Olive Oil and Butter
  • Penzey’s Northwoods Fire spice mix or the mix below
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


Mince the onion and either pick the thyme leaves or chop the thyme tips. Lightly dust the scallops with the Penzey’s Northwoods Fire mix or lightly dust with chili powder, smoked paprika, dried thyme, salt and pepper. Heat a 12″ non-stick pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil and butter and heat until butter stops foaming and turns lightly brown.

Onion and Thyme
Dusted ScallopsOlive Oil and Buttr

Add the scallops and the whole garlic clove to the pan but do not crowd the pan. Let the scallops sear on one side for 3 minutes. Turn the scallops and add the thyme and onion. Stir the thyme and onion into the oil. Let the scallops sear for 2 to 3 more minutes then remove to a warm plate.
Add Scallops and GarlicTurn add onions

Add the white wine and turn the heat up to high. Scrape all the brown bits off the pan and stir while you reduce the wine by half

Add wine.

Plate the scallops. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Pour the sauce over the scallops.

First from the Farmer’s Market

Last night we cooked the first dinner of the season from the Farmer’s Market. All of the food came from the Dane County Farmers’ Market on the Square except for the Mint Newman-Ohs. We made grilled trout with a parsley pesto (italian parsley, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper), grilled fingerling potatoes (par-boiled, rubbed with olive oil and salt then roasted over the coals till crispy on the outside) and steamed spinach. Lola helped watch over the grill. Here are a few pictures.


Traditional music at dinner

We had traditional Chinese and Mongolian music at dinner. It was really cool. I won’t guess at the instruments other than to say, there were three musicians: a woman playing something that looks like a hammered dulcimer, a guy who played bowed stringed instruments and guy who played flutes.

I was listening to one song and thinking, “It sounds like it is about a river”. One of the bus/wait people went buy singing along. I stopped him (Kenny) on his way past again and asked him, “What is this song about”. He told me it is a great song, a beautiful song. “It is about the moon and the river.” Then he hustled back to his job. Amazing that those kinds of things can come through music regardless of the culture.

I really wanted to Kenny to sit down and sing and tell me about the songs. Unfortunately (for me), he had a day job he needed to keep.

I’ll post pictures and maybe movies when I get home.

It was really great. I was tempted to stay and listen until they quit.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Dinner out at a local restaurant ups my belief in humanity

Last night I ate dinner a local Japanese restaurant. I was walking from the hotel down to North Beach. It was nasty, windy, raining so I was thinking that maybe I should turn around and eat at the hotel. I went past this little Japanese restaurant – Hotaru (1059 Powell St, Google Street View helped me find the name) Hotaro or something like that. It was nasty so I decided to forgo my usual rule for restaurant selection (learned from a colleague – find the first restaurant that looks good enough then go to the next better looking restaurant) and dive back in.

A little four year-old girl, Rosemary, brought me my menu. Roy, a 15 month old, toddled around holding onto an elderly woman’s hands. A younger woman sat braiding another older woman’s hair. The woman with Roy said, “look at my Sister’s hair”. Everyone looked up and cooed appreciation. There was much discussion of how the young lady did her hair and the fact that she did it without a rubber band.

A man walked it and the elderly woman with Roy asked, “are you Willard’s brother? I’ve seen you at the library.” “Yes. This is Willard’s niece, Christine” he answered pointing out the young lady that he entered with. “Where is Willard?” ‘He is parking the car.’ “We haven’t seen Willard for a while.” ‘He usually comes early after work.’

Willard walked in a couple of minutes later. Everyone said hi. WIllard took up Roy and played with him. He introduced Rosemary to Christine. Others diners came in and said hi. Everyone moved around from table to table, chatting and catching up. I was quickly brought into the conversation.

It was a wonderful neighborhood hang out for these China town people. They walk over drive in from around the city to meet up and chat on evenings when they don’t want to cook. Everyone listened patiently to the elderly woman describe how she was just laid off from her job. They jointly watched the owners children while she ran the restaurant.

It was really a wonderful step into a welcoming local scene.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Black Bean and Chorizo Soup

This was dinner last night. It worked out well especially for a “found this in the freezer” dinner. Note: I did not measure out the ingredients exactly. Somethings are pretty easy – a can of X is a can of X. Other things were by eye and taste.


2 Chorizo Sausages – cut into 1/4 lengthwise then chopped to 1/4 inch long pieces
2 small onions diced (about 1 cup diced onion)
1/2 red bell pepper diced
4 small carrots peeled and sliced (about 1 cup)
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 Tbls butter
3 Cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 14oz Can of Hominy – drained and rinsed
1 14oz Can Petite Diced Tomatoes – drained (save the juice for something else)
1 Tbls Chili Powder
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Tbls Buffalo Chipotle Hot Sauce (the best, most useful stuff)
2 tsp Dried Mexican Oregano
2 Cups cooked black beans (we had made these the day before), drained
1 tsp Sugar
Salt and Pepper

Garnish: Avocado and Lime

  1. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Cook until the butter stops foaming
  2. Add the onions, bell pepper and carrot and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring often, until the vegis are soft. (about 5 minutes)
  3. Add the chorizo and cook until the fat starts to render out of the sausage (about 5 minutes)
  4. Add the garlic, chili powder and oregano and cook until fragrant (about a minute)
  5. Add the broth and bring to a boil
  6. Add the hominy, tomatoes and beans and stir to combine
  7. Add the hot sauce and cayenne and taste for spiciness. Adjust these for the level of heat and smokiness that you want
  8. Add the sugar. Note: this won’t make it sweet it will just balance out the smokey flavors.
  9. Simmer partially covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  10. Near the end of the cooking time, add a healthy grind of black pepper and test for salt.
  11. Finish in the bowl with chopped avocado and a squeeze of lime.

Technorati Tags: ,