Nature Walks – I Love Fall

I just love Fall. I love the bright, beautiful colors. I love the cool crisp air. I love that it is time for doing a lot of baking. And it also means the holidays aren’t far away. Here are some colorful reasons of why I love this beautiful season.

This is my big tree in my front yard. I am looking at it right now, as I write. I get to look at this beautiful tree every time I am up in my office. I absolutely love this big beautiful tree of ours.

We all need more color in our world. Enjoy the beauty of all the colors and color your world beautiful.

Baking Bierocks

Larry’s mom, Ollie, is the Queen of Bierocks. She has made many, many 1000’s of them over the years and still continues to bake them today, even at 92. Needless to say, she doesn’t make nearly as many as she used to though. Ollie has decided since she can’t make them en mass like before, it is now time to start sharing the recipe. Before we were all sworn to secrecy. Video #8 – Baking With Ollie, Bierocks and Soup She taught all of us wanted to learn, how to make them quite a few years ago. Bierocks are German meat pockets, also known as runzas or kraut burgers.

I am taking some classes with the church for the next few weeks, and in one class, we have been serving dinner, since we meet from 6:30-8:30 PM once a week. It was my turn to provide the meal this week, and I chose a good German, and a good Ollie meal. The menu was Bierocks, chicken noodle soup, a simple green salad, and some raspberry crumbles for dessert (those I bought). Everything was a huge hit.

I meant to take pictures of everything once it was all set up, but as soon as people started arriving, they also started eating, so no more pictures. I did get a picture of the raspberry crumbles before leaving though.

I made the filling first. You can make this ahead if needed.

Bierock Filling

2 1/2 – 3 lbs ground beef

1/2 head green cabbage, chopped fine

1 onion, chopped fine

1 heaping TBSP garlic

3/4 cup flour

1 cup beef broth

salt & pepper to taste

Combine everything together except the flour and beef broth and cook in a large pot with vegetable oil until the cabbage and onions are softened and the meat is done. Add the beef broth and flour to the mixture, combine well and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside until you are ready to use it.

Bierock Dough

12 cups flour + extra for the surface to roll the dough in

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup salt

1/3 cup yeast

2-3 TBSP melted butter + 2-3 TBSP extra to brush on top

5 cups water

2 eggs for the dough + more for the egg wash

I have used both mixer and have made it all by hand. In all honesty, I actually prefer making it by hand, since my big mixer struggles a bit with this much dough all at once. Combine everything together in a big bowl and mix everything together well. Once all the ingredients are thoroughly combined, start kneading the dough on a lightly floured surface to form a big dough ball.

Cover the dough and let rise in a warm area for about 20 minutes. Divide the dough in half. While working with one half, cover the other half and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350* F or 180* C.

Lightly flour the working surface again and the dough out to about 1/4 inch in thickness. Cut the dough into round circles. You can cut them any size you like, but they have to be large enough and strong enough to hold the meat filling.

Before, when I made these, I often had to much dough for the amount of meat I used. So I found that once I cut the circles, I rolled them out again to make them thinner. That worked much better. Once I got my dough to the right consistency, I filled them with about 1/3 cup of the meat filling and wrapped them to make a pocket or purse. Bring all the edges in towards the middles and pinch tight to seal the dough. Then shape the dough balls into round circles and pat and shape as you are rolling the dough balls.

Once all the pockets are filled, brush them with an egg wash thoroughly before putting them in the oven to bake. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until they are golden brown. As soon as the bierocks come out of the oven, brush them with the melted butter and serve.

Ollie, my mother-in-law, has always served them with soup on the side. I did too. These are great little beef pockets that will travel very well. They are best when served hot. I had enough meat to make about 28 bierocks.

I ended up only using 1/2 the dough, so I have more for later. Ollie always spoiled Larry and his siblings by making cinnamon rolls and sausage rolls with the rest of her dough. I was thinking about making cinnamon rolls, but we are having guests over for dinner tomorrow, so I am going to make something different with my dough, and i will share it with you at another time. For Ollie, this is her basic dough that she uses for everything. It is a very versatile soft dough.

Enjoy or Viel SpaB. Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Shopping for Spices

The other day when we met up with Julia and Bruce, Lunch at Lady Nomada’s Julia and I popped into Penzey’s Spice Shop. Penzy’s is another specialty spice shop, very similar to Savory Spice, which is located in Denver. Savory Spices of Denver. Penzey’s, however, is a larger company, with 69 stores scattered throughout the country. They have their headquarters in Wawautosa, Wisconsin. It started off as a family business in 1957 by Bill and Ruth Penzey, and still is a family business today.

Every store has a replica of Grandma Ruth’s kitchen, since that’s where it all began.

Penzey’s is full of all kinds of spices, both domestic and exotic. You can find just about anything there, even things you didn’t even know about. Jut think of all the fun you can have trying out all these different and unique spices. YUM!

The spice vase.

Julia and I are looking for our next spice adventure. I think we just may have found it too. 🙂

Of course we both bought a bag full of goodies. My goodie bag included a large bag of crushed Aleppo peppers, a large bag of ancho crushed peppers, a large jar of orange extract, a large jar of lemon extract and a large jar of grated orange peel, as well as something new to me that was recommended by Julia, Fox Point herbs, which I just used in a big pot of chicken noodle soup I just made too. Delicious.

When out with friends, make everyday an adventure. Those adventures make happy memories that last a lifetime. 🙂

We went to the Penzey’s in Arvada, located at 7511 Grandview. On your next stroll through downtown Arvada, stop in and spice things up a bit.

Lunch at Lady Nomada’s

Last week we got together with Julia and Bruce and had a great afternoon strolling around through Old Town Arvada. The Scarecrow Festival was taking place and everything was decorated with scarecrows and festive fall colors. As always, we had a fun time and ate to much. I will share all our adventures with you in due time, but first I am going to share our lunch at Lady Nomada’s.

As we were strolling around town, we discovered this colorful outside patio, and I was really hoping that was where we were going to stop for lunch, especially since it was a beautiful, bright, sunny fall day. And lo and behold, that is where we chose to dine. It was the patio for Lady Nomada’s.

Lady Nomada’s is a Baja-Rado Taqueria & Bar. It’s where Baja California meets Colorado. Both distinct personalities are proudly displayed throughout the restaurant too. It was a fun place to go with delicious food. “There’s never a dull moment when she’s around. Lady loves good food and comes alive at night when the music fills the air and drinks around without a care”.

Lady Nomada was created by Gastamo Group, the team behind some of Denver’s most celebrated restaurants including Park Burger, Perdida, Homegrown Tap & Dough, and Birdcall. Inspired by the Baja and driven by the mountains, each dish is designed to invoke the fresh spray of the coast and freshness from the sun. Have a bite, or several”. We definitely enjoyed several bites. We all walked away very full and satisfied.

We dined al fresco, out on the street side patio.

We started things off right with a bowl of chips that came with 2 kinds of salsa, a regular spicy tomato salsa and a tangy, garlicky tomatillo salsa. Both were delicious and the chips were gone in an instant. I guess we were hungrier than we realized. Bruce and I washed our chips down with some cool refreshing margaritas as well.

Then it was time for the main event – lunch. We all ordered something different and everything was very colorful and muy delicioso!

Julia feasted on flautas.

Bruce chose the calamari salad.

Larry went for the barbacoa tacos.

And I dined on the “double-decker” shrimp tacos.

We all enjoyed a perfect lunch out on the patio. It was a beautifully, warm fall day shard with good friends and good food. After lunch we strolled around and took in all the sights. We had no agenda and just went were the colorful paths took us.

Lady Nomada’s is located at 7519 Grandview Avenue in Arvada, Colorado. It is most definitely a fun place to dine and it is full of personality. It is a unique, one-of-a-kind restaurant that is a perfect place to go when looking for something fun and casual. It a great place to go when you just want to let your hair down, unwind and relax. 🙂

The Banana Bug

You all know I love challenges of all kinds. One of our very own blogger family members,  sonofabeach96, has thrown out a banana challenge.

Color Your World: Banana Mania

While we were in Cozumel, we rented a bright yellow dune buggy type vehicle for the day. We toured around the island in what we lovingly named our Banana Bug. We had a blast in our banana bug too.

Sometimes you just have to let your hair down and have some fun, or better yet, have a lot of fun. Put some fun in everything you do. 🙂

A Pot of Gumbo

Gumbo, in all its many varieties, is a much loved tradition in Louisiana. Gumbo has been a part of the Louisiana heritage since the early 18th century. Today, seafood gumbo seems to be the most popular variety of them all, though a gumbo is a combination of whatever you’ve got, and it all gets thrown into the pot together, meaning it will change every time you make it, and that’s exactly how it is supposed to be too. Gumbo is enjoyed by all, regardless of their background or status. A steaming bowl of fragrant gumbo is one of life’s cherished pleasures, as emblematic of Louisiana as chili is of Texas.

Gumbo is often cited as an example of the melting-pot nature of Louisiana cooking, but trying to sort out the origins and evolution of the dish is highly speculative. The name derives from a West African word for okra, suggesting that gumbo was originally made with okra. The use of filé (dried and ground sassafras leaves) was a contribution of the Choctaws and, possibly, other local tribes. Roux has its origin in French cuisine, although the roux used in gumbos is much darker than its Gallic cousins. Gumbo, like most Americans, is one big melting pot of flavors and goodness all blended together.

I was in a gumbo kind of mood the other day, and like I always do when making it, I made a big pot of steaming gumbo. I loaded it up with shrimp, Andouille sausage and chicken. Of course I started off with the Holy trinity, or as I like to call it, the Holy trinity +1, because I usually add jalapenos or peppers too. But the roux is glue that holds all theses savory ingredients together. The roux is what really determines the outcome of your gumbo. There are different kinds of roux, just like there are different kinds of gumbos. I served my gumbo with red beans and rice with a cool, some warmed cheddar and jalapeno bread and a crisp citrusy chardonnay on the side.

There is no ONE way to make a gumbo. There are infinite recipes. Gumbo is one of those dishes that allows you to be as creative as you like. The only rules are to start with a good roux and the Holy trinity. From there, your are left to your own inspirations and creativity. I had a bunch of tomatoes to use, so I made my gumbo with a creamy tomato base this time. Fresh Tomatoes. I used one of my ginormous tomatoes, and that was all this recipe needed.

This time, I made a creamy roux.

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup flour

2-3 TBSP butter

Combine the oil, butter and flour together in a large, very HOT pot or Dutch oven. Whisk everything over a medium-high flame until it turns a rich, light caramel color. This can take 30-40 minutes of constant whisking, so be patient with it.

Once the roux gets to the color and consistency you like, add the Holy trinity, which is green bell peppers, onions, and celery. I always add jalapenos or roasted peppers too, so I call it the Holy tr1nity +1. We recently purchased our bushels of roasted Hatch chilies, so I used some of those in the mix. Another Hatch Batch Continue to whisk everything together for about 5-10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. The roux will thicken as it cooks too.

Add the chicken, and sausage and continue to cook until they are cooked completely. Then add the rest of your ingredients. Add a minimum of 6-8 cups of chicken broth, but more if like it a little thinner and more soup-like. I added the shrimp along with the broth, tomato and seasonings. I used oregano, marjoram, thyme, salt and cayenne pepper as my spices. In Cajun and Creole cooking, the best cooks NEVER measure anything. It is all by taste, by touch and by the looks. I probably added about 1-1 1/2 tsp of each of the dried herbs.

Can you believe this is jus ONE tomato?????? I’m telling you, they were HUGE!

Bring everything to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer, and continue to cook at a low heat for about 1-1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

I had a helper who got tired of waiting.

When everything was ready, I served it all over some red beans and rice and topped it all with some fresh parsley, and then it was time to let the good times roll; laissez le bontemps roulez!

Enjoy your days and live life to the fullest. Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.