Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's my Blogiversary

It’s late, but I simply had to post today as it is Range Warfare’s first birthday. Can you believe it? Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun? As a big thank you to all you folks who take the time and trouble to visit my humble abode I’m giving away a hardback copy of Ina Garten’s book, barefoot contessa at home.

I wish I could give everyone a gift, but when you’re a poor and struggling writer like moi that’s just not financially viable. One day I’ll write that best seller and we'll all have some fun. :-)

Anyone who leaves a comment on my blog between now and midnight on Monday (Oklahoma time), will be eligible to enter. All names will go into a hat, and Mick, (or one of the cats) will select a winner. I’ll post the name of the winner on Tuesday. Bonne chance mes amis.

And without further ado:

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Feta Cheese, Leeks, and Garlic. (And don't forget the bacon).


1 pork tenderloin – sorry, I’m not sure how much this weighed, I’m guessing about 1½ lbs. prior to cooking
½ a leek, cleaned and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons feta cheese
3-4 bacon slices
1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  • Pre-heat oven to 450F
  • Slit the pork down the center, but don’t cut right through. Spread leeks, garlic, and feta evenly over the meat, but not right up to the edges. Fold the meat up and tie into a parcel using kitchen twine. Season generously with black pepper, then wrap the bacon slices around the pork.
  • Brush a baking dish with vegetable oil, put meat in dish and roast for about 15 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to 375F and cook for a further 20-30 minutes, possibly longer depending on size of pork loin. Don't worry if you think you've overdone it - the bacon keeps it nice and moist.
  • Allow to rest for 10 minutes or so before carving.

That’s the meat I’m talking about there. And while it rests, what the hell, pour yourself a glass of wine or whatever else floats your boat, and put your feet up for a few mins. You all deserve it. And, Cheers, Bottoms up! but make mine a large one. ;-)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lamb Curry

Jason at has been making a few Indian dishes lately, and it reminded me that I haven’t made a single curry this winter, a situation which needed to be rectified immediately.

We Brits have had a love affair with Indian cuisine ever since India was the jewel in the crown of the British Empire. It has even been claimed that fish and chips is no longer our national dish, having been replaced by Chicken Tikka Masala, I’m not so sure about that, but it’s definitely a close second. If you’re interested you can find the recipe for it here:

If further proof is needed of the wonderful quality of curries to be had in Britain, it is provided by my Indian boss at one of the places I worked in California. He told me the best curry he had ever eaten was in England, at a place called Bradford in West Yorkshire! It just so happens that my hubby Mick was born there – though he claims no Indian ancestry. :-)

Unfortunately, many people assume that all Indian curries are too hot to handle, this is not so. Most of them are made from a subtle blend of spices that go together to create fabulous flavors that titillate the palate, rather than overpower it. Sure, you can create really hot, spicy curries if you like; it’s all a matter of personal taste. I like hot curries, Mick not so much, so this one is quite mild, but in no way tame. This recipe is kind of an amalgamation of several curry recipes, and I have to say, I thought this was one of the best curries I have ever made, hubby certainly concurred.

As many of you already know, I have great difficulty in obtaining lamb (amongst other things), around these parts. But last year, just before Thanksgiving, we did manage to persuade a local butcher to procure us a leg of lamb, which he chopped into joints and chops for us. At the time we were packing it away in the freezer, Mick looked at the skinny part of the leg, (it was larger than a lamb shank, but not as big as joint) and said he didn’t know what I would do with that. I, on the other hand, immediately earmarked it for a lamb curry, and this is what happened to it.

Lamb Curry


Don’t let the cast of characters put you off making this, most of them are spices.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large lamb shank, or a couple of smaller ones, whatever you use it should have bone in for more flavor. Make some deep slices in the lamb to enable the meat to better infuse the spices.
1 large onion sliced
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons garam masala
3 teaspoons red curry powder
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle, or 1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle, or 1 teaspoon ground coriander. These seeds came from some cilantro that I grew last year.

½ cup chicken stock/broth
1 large can whole tomatoes. I used a 3-cup container of my tomato gloop, which I make every summer from homegrown tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and herbs, and which I always use in place of canned tomatoes. That recipe is
½ cup tomato paste
½ cup plain fat-free yogurt
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
3 - 4 cups potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
½ cup raisins


  • Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over a medium high heat. Add lamb to pan and keep turning meat until evenly browned. Remove lamb from pan and set aside.
  • Reduce heat to medium, and sauté onions until translucent, add garlic and sauté for a further minute. Stir in all spices except crushed coriander seeds.
  • Return lamb to pan, stir in crushed coriander seeds. and turn meat in spices to coat. Add a splash of chicken stock if mixture is too dry, and cook for a couple more minutes.
  • Add canned tomatoes, (or tomato gloop) and chicken stock, bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer covered for 1½ hours.
  • In a small bowl, mix together yogurt, tomato paste, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce, stir into the pan, along with potatoes and raisins, and simmer for a further 45 minutes.
  • Transfer to a warm serving dish and serve with hot Basmati rice. I had intended to make some naan bread, but left it too late, so I heated some flour tortillas which served as chapatis for scooping up all the delicious sauce.

BTW, Like all stews, curry leftovers taste even better the following day.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sausage and Veggie Hash

It’s now day 15 since I quit smoking, and I am still smoke free. Yay! I can’t say I’m out of the woods yet though. There are still times when I could murder a ciggie, especially after a meal, and I still find it hard to remain focused when I’m writing, but It is getting easier. On the plus side, food tastes so much better now, I don’t get as breathless, and I’m sure my gums are healing better, as my teeth don’t feel as sensitive as they did. Anyway, I’ll find out whether it’s done any good when I see the periodontist in early April.

So, on with the show.

This recipe is loosely based on one I saw on the Beeb,
Theirs used leftover veggies, which this doesn’t; I also added a few ingredients which weren’t in the original. I used some Spinach and Asiago Chicken Sausage that I had picked up at Sam’s Club and stuck in the freezer, they were delish, but you could use whatever sausage you like.

Sausage and Veggie Hash


2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
5 Spinach and Asiago Chicken Sausages
3-4 potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon butter
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, thoroughly cleaned and sliced
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 – 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Black pepper, to taste
½ -1 cup sharp cheddar, depending on your serving preference.

  • Put potatoes in a pan of water, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-high and parboil for about 3-5 minutes until potatoes are very slightly softened. Drain, set aside and allow to cool.
  • Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a large skillet over a medium heat, add sausage and cook for about ten minutes until nicely browned. Cut sausages into chunks and keep warm in the oven on a low temp.
  • Clean skillet, then heat another tablespoon of oil over a medium-high heat, add potatoes and sauté until golden brown. Remove from pan and keep them warm in the oven.
  • Wipe skillet clean with paper towel, then melt butter over a medium heat. Add onion to pan and saute for 2 minutes, add leeks and saute for a further 2 minutes, finally add garlic and saute 1 minute. Stir mustard into the mix and season with fresh ground black pepper.
  • Return sausages and potatoes to pan, and toss gently with onion etc. Remove pan from heat, sprinkle on half the cheese and stir to combine.
  • Transfer mixture to a warm serving dish, you can serve at this point, which looks like the first photo and uses less cheese. Or you can top with remaining cheese and put dish under a hot broiler for 1-2 minutes until cheese melts. Either way it’s yummy.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Beef Stew

Once again, the weather here has been all over the place. Last weekend, we had a high of 25°F (-4C), with snow, and bitterly cold north winds. Saturday, we were eating beef stew, and Sunday, roast chicken with all the trimmings. The past few days our temps have been in the 70’s and 80’s and we’re considering rolling out the BBQ.

Weather aside, this has been a horrendous week for me as I am trying to quit smoking. As of this moment it has been 6 days, 16 hours and 39 minutes since my last cigarette, and believe me, I have suffered through every waking moment. %-(

I have been thinking of quitting for some time, but the recent problems with my gums gave me the kick up the arse I needed. The dentist told me my gums would have more chance of healing if I quit smoking. But the real clincher was, he told me if they didn’t heal I would need surgery for bone grafts on three of my teeth. Needless to say, that scared the shit out of me, and gave me the impetus to do something about it.

This week, I have found it very difficult to do any writing, I just can’t do it without a cigarette smoldering in the ashtray. I find myself unable to concentrate, and end up wandering listlessly around the house, gazing out of the window, or fiddling with pens and pencils, or crushing a piece of silly putty to a gloopy mess. Nothing satisfies though, as there is something missing from my life. It’s not that I’m craving nicotine, because this patch is feeding me a regular dose of that, but I am craving the simple pleasure of smoking.

I do so agree with Mark Twain’s sentiments,
"...when they used to tell me I would shorten my life ten years by smoking, they little knew the devotee they were wasting their puerile words upon -- they little knew how trivial and valueless I would regard a decade that had no smoking in it!"

But that’s because I’m an addict. Addictions, however, can be broken, and I am determined to do the best I can to break mine. Wish me luck.

BTW, I should mention, that I am back on solid food again. The only things I have to avoid are crisps/chips, hard fruit such as apples, and uncooked veggies like carrots.

Anyway, enough of my driveling on, time for some beef stew. In this recipe you can pretty much use whatever veggies you have hanging around the fridge.

Beef Stew


1 lb. beef stew meat
¼ cup all-purpose flour, seasoned with cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups beef broth/stock
1 large onion, divided, half chopped into big chunks, the other half just chopped
½ a rutabaga peeled and cut into chunks
3 carrots, sliced
1 green pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 leek, white and pale green parts (thoroughly cleaned) and sliced
1 parsnip, peeled and sliced

  • Put flour in a Ziplock bag, season with cracked pepper, add the beef stew meat and toss until coated.
  • In a large soup pot, or Dutch oven heat olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add the flour coated beef to the pan, season with more black pepper, and sauté until lightly browned. Add the large chunks of onion and sauté for a further minute or so. Add the beef broth/stock to the pan, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 1 hour.
  • After 1 hour, throw all remaining veggies into the pan. If more liquid is required add another cup of broth, or just a cup of water will do. Return to boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered for about 40-45 minutes until all veggies are tender and stew has thickened.
  • About half way through this period of cooking check seasoning and adjust if required, toss in a bit of paprika if you like.

Serve with crusty bread. I, of course, couldn’t resist adding a few dumplings during the final 25 minutes of cooking. :-)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pancake Tuesday on Sunday!

Actually, I did make these pancakes (crepes) on Shrove Tuesday, (February 24th, Mardi Gras here), but I’m such a slacker that I am only just getting around to posting about them.

Shrove Tuesday is so called in England because it used to be a day of confession and forgiveness, or shriving, prior to Lent, a forty-day period of fasting which began the following day on Ash Wednesday. Shrove Tuesday is also synonymous with pancakes. In earlier times eggs and dairy products were forbidden during the Lenten fast, and pancakes were the perfect way for housewives to use up these ingredients.

In England, many celebrations are held on this day, but perhaps the most famous is the Pancake Day Race held at Olney in Buckinghamshire, an annual tradition since 1445. Legend has it that a woman cooking pancakes heard the church bells summoning her to confession. She ran to the church still clad in her apron and carrying her frying pan, thus starting a custom which continues to this day.

The rules of the race require the contestants, all women, to wear traditional housewifely garb of dress or skirt, apron, and hat or scarf. They must also toss their pancakes at the start and finish of the 415-yard dash. The winner receives a kiss and a blessing, "The peace of the Lord be always with you," from the vicar of the parish.

In 1950, the race became a transatlantic affair when the townspeople of Liberal, Kansas, became involved. After seeing press photographs of the race, Liberal challenged Olney to a contest. Ever since the two towns have competed annually.

I remember cooking pancakes for Mick, in the first year of our marriage ― and it almost became our last. Far from being able to toss my pancakes, I struggled to turn them over at all, and they fell to pieces when I tried to remove them from the pan. Despite assurances from Mick that they tasted great, I became more and more frustrated with my efforts. To make matters worse, I had to watch hungrily while he ate one after another of my pathetic offerings. I was so angry I could have cheerfully whacked him with the frying pan.

In the end, Mick saved the day. He sat me down with a glass of wine, and cooked dinner for me ― not pancakes, I hasten to add. Things have move on a pace since those early days, I now wonder why I found it so difficult. Oh hum!



½ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk mixed with ¼ cup water
1/2 stick butter

To serve:

Superfine or confectioner’s sugar
1 lemon, chopped into wedges

  • Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour break the eggs into it and whisk. Gradually add milk and water mixture, and whisk until the batter is smooth.
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons of melted butter to the batter and whisk it in. Use remaining butter to grease a 10-inch sauté pan before you make each pancake.
  • Get pan really hot, reduce heat to medium. Using a pastry brush smear a little butter around base of pan. Add ¾ of a soup ladle (approx. 8 tablespoons) of batter to pan. Tilt pan around to get the base evenly coated with batter.
  • After about 1 minute or so lift the edge of the pancake with a spatula, it should be a golden brown. Flip the pancake over with a spatula and cook the other side for about 20 seconds.
  • Slide pancake out of the pan onto a plate. Sprinkle with freshly squeezed lemon juice and fine sugar, roll the pancake up and serve immediately.