Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Stop the Presses - Alpine Cheddar Bisque

As happens often, and I am my own worse critic, I was not satisfied with the results of my cooking.  Yesterday it was the Potatoes O'Brien.  It is a simple recipe, just a few basic ingredients, but I was not happy about the over doneness of the onions and peppers. It's fixable, it's a matter of timing ... or maybe its my technique ... or maybe it was the seasoning or I had no damn idea what I was doing.  Anyway, I am annoyed sufficiently to toss the recipe and will therefore not put it out here in print.

Robert and Cory said the potatoes were fine.  I think they're just being nice to me.  Because when they were finally done, they didn't look fine.  The onions and peppers had lost their color, and their presence among the potatoes was noticeably diminished.  To me, at least, the flavor was just meh.

Coincidentally, last night was the premiere episode of "Worst Cooks in America", on Food Network.  Without a doubt, this group of contestants is the worst group ever, and I watch this train wreck every year.  Is that blonde really a teacher?  God help the children of the state of California!  I realize there are certain categories and stereotypes that have to be filled (makes for good television?) but this year they are particularly annoying.

The Chocolate Diva (their phrase, not mine)
The Flamboyant Gay Guy
The Morbidly Obese African American Female
The Sloppy Jewish Guy with Greasy or Welcome Back, KotterHair
The Flirty Cheerleader (female), hitting on the male host
The Flirty Personal Trainer (male), hitting on the female host
The Normal Black Guy
The Comedian
The Stoner Guy/Goth Girl
The Rebel

Sometimes these personality types overlap or merge, which just intensifies the urge to send them packing.  Naturally, the most annoying types are the last to leave;  you don't get a lot of ratings from some pathetic high school dropout with the IQ of an unpeeled turnip.

Speaking of TV, I've never watched "Modern Family" but I understand it has quite a following. (I don't often have the patience for episodic TV, and while I can tell you some of my favorite shows include "Bones" and "Castle", I can go months without watching either one.) The family I am interested in is, of course, my own, and for today's purposes, the focus is on my office family.

I have had a number of office families over the years.  I am an introvert, a loner, painfully shy, disinclined to open my mouth and say the wrong thing, and essentially insecure about my abilities to communicate, especially with people I don't know well.  I lived in my last home in Orlando for over eleven years and never knew the names of any of my neighbors.  Most of my family, those who do know me well, are either dead or not speaking with me.  I am still in the early stages of building a relationship with my paternal relatives.

But I have to go to work everyday, and you can't work with the same people everyday for years and not develop a family-like relationship.  At least I can't.  My office family is important to me.  I like them all; some of them I love, because our friendships go back more years than I can easily remember.  I started working for HRS is 1992, and I transferred to Kissimmee in 1996.  Even after I left to try private practice in 1999, I spent 90% of my time on dependency cases, which meant I continued almost daily contact with my former co-workers.  And then I returned in 2008.  So I think you can see how those bonds formed and strengthened.

Today is a relatively quiet day - no court scheduled this week - but here in our family, there are Issues.  And Concerns.  (I capitalize these because they are Important words in the social work community).  One of our group lost a parent, terribly, unexpectedly, last week, and came back to find her car had been towed.  Another is facing major surgery, while a third is getting ready to start chemo. Come to think about it, just about all of us - there are twelve - have something worrisome going on in our lives.  For example, my fibromyalgia has settled in for the winter, I think (blessedly short in Florida) and I am back in a place that I don't like, where I hurt all the time and have trouble staying focussed.  

What matters is that we naturally slide into family mode and start providing mutual support. The current workplace vogue term for our group is "team."  Like the Orlando Magic, but we win a lot more often.  Better coaches. I mean "leadership".  We don't call them management anymore.  I might as well learn to sling the proper lingo, as I intend to die at my desk.

On that oddly cheerful note, I want to tell you that I do have a recipe I am willing to share.  It is a nice soup, fairly easy to make, and full of those wonderful cruciferous vegetables, broccoli and cauliflower.                                                   

Alpine Cheddar Bisque

1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
Kosher salt, white pepper, black pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1 - 16 oz. package frozen Alpine blend (broccoli and cauliflower), defrosted and chopped small
2 cups half-and-half
8 oz. extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
2 - 4 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons green onions, green tops only, chopped
a few drops of hot sauce (optional)

In a medium saucepan, sauté the onions in the butter.  Stir in the flour, salt, and white pepper, until the roux is smooth.  Add the broth, stirring well to avoid lumps.  Bring to a boil, and while stirring, boil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes or until the broth is thickened.  Add the chopped broccoli and cauliflower and continue to cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables are soft, about 10-12 minutes.  Lower the heat to medium-low.  Gradually add the half-and-half, and then add the cheese. Cook and stir until the cheese melts.  Stir in the green onions, the black pepper to taste, the hot sauce if using it, and then the sherry.  Taste and adjust the salt and other seasonings.

You can use an immersion blender to smooth out the bisque, or leave part or all of the vegetable pieces intact.

As a side note, over lunch I cast on and started knitting with my lovely yarn from Hobby Lobby.  I think I am going to frog this little bit and switch to a smaller needle.  The yarn is nice to knit with, and feels good on my hands, as it is an acrylic/wool/mohair blend.  The name of the color is Ravenwood.  Now I really love it!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner - Not My Grandma's Cornflake Chicken

Today, January 4, 2015, would have been Bethe's 61st birthday.  You all know how much I miss her, the sister of my heart.

I have a confession to make:  the recipe for Buttermilk Baked Chicken is a variation of a recipe my grandmother made at least once or twice a month throughout my entire childhood.  I'm not suggesting that the Neely's stole my grandmother's recipe, especially since she got it off the back of a box of Kellogg's cornflake crumbs, but the whole idea of coating chicken with cornflake crumbs and baking until crispy has been around at least fifty years.  I printed the Neely's recipe out a while ago and stuck it into my "to try" pile, because I liked what they did with the buttermilk.  I have come to appreciate the value of a buttermilk soak for chicken that is going to be fried, and I thought it would work equally well on this baked version especially the way the Neelys seasoned the buttermilk with sliced onion, smashed garlic, and some other good stuff.

All this time I thought the old cornflake chicken recipe was kind of kitschy, and it turns out that everybody from Trisha Yearwood to Martha Stewart is proudly preparing the dish before the cameras.  My grandmother's version was simplicity itself - she melted margarine, dipped the chicken in the margarine, then the crumbs, and put the chicken on a baking sheet and into the oven.  When it was done, the cornflakes were buttery and crispy and the chicken was moist and sweet.  When I make it, as I have over the years, I usually marinate the chicken in some Italian dressing, or a combination of melted butter and orange juice, and I also add some herbs to the crumbs.

Clearly I can never leave well enough alone.  I told you I'd tampered with the Neely's recipe, and I wasn't kidding.  I'm making this homey old standby exotic, and no one, not even Martha Stewart, has gone where I'm about to go.

Not My Grandma's Cornflake Chicken

Bobby Deen, Paula's younger son, carved out a specialty cooking zone for himself with "Not My Mama's Meals" by cutting down the fat and calories associated with his mother's brand of southern cooking.  I decided to call this "Not My Grandma's Cornflake Chicken" because my recipe incorporates spices that never saw the inside of my grandmother's pantry. So to start, you will need to whip up a batch of my version of Steven Raichlan's Jamaican Jolt Dry Rub.  You can cut this in half, which is what I do, and store it in a screw top jar in your spice cabinet.

Jamaican Jolt Dry Rub for those with a delicate palate
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup freeze dried chives
2 tablespoons coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons dried ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all the spice rub ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. 

1 whole cut up chicken, 3 - 4 1/2 pounds (I like to cross cut each breast into two pieces)
Jamaican Jolt Dry Rub, recipe above
1 quart of buttermilk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons Crystal hot sauce
1/2 large sweet onion, sliced

1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 large cloves garlic, smashed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Granulated garlic
2 cups crushed corn flakes
3/4 cup grated Romano cheese


The night before:  Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with Jamaican Jolt, and place into a baking dish large enough to lay out the chicken in one layer.  Cover and leave in the refrigerator overnight.

Next day:  Place the onion slices and smashed garlic pieces over the chicken. and season with the salt, pepper, thyme and granulated garlic. Mix together buttermilk, lemon juice, and hot sauce, and pour over all.  Cover and place in the refrigerator for 3 hours or up 12 hours.

About 90 minutes before serving, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Fit a sheet tray with a wire rack and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix cornflakes and Parmesan cheese together. Season with salt and pepper, and a little more of the Jamaican Jolt.

Remove chicken from the marinade, letting the excess drip off, and dredge through the cornflake-Parmesan mixture, pressing to help it adhere. Discard the marinade.

Place on the wire rack-fitted sheet tray.  Lightly spray the tops of the chicken with olive oil cooking spray, and bake for 45 minutes until golden and crisp.

My opinion - very tasty and tender, and the crumb coating is nice and crunchy.  Next time though, I want to try drizzling melted butter instead of spraying with olive oil before baking.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

You Were Always on My Mind ... I've Got Chicken on My Mind

January 3, 2015:  First and foremost, I want to wish a happy 22nd birthday to my nephew Mark.  He is an EMT and also is studying at Lehigh University.  He's handsome, he's bright, he's funny.  A good son, brother, and nephew.
Number Two Niece and Number Two Nephew - Mark and sister Mara at her wedding November 2013

It is time to do some cooking.  Prepared food is running low, and that simply will not do.

I started out with nine different aluminum tins, but after combining, rearranging, and organizing, it all came down to this.  Another day or two at the most.  After that - rotisserie chicken, frozen pizza, or burnt ends from Jimmy Bear in St. Cloud.  Or I can cook.  You know my feelings on this.  Take out food is good - occasionally - but is not a daily substitution for home cooking.  You can see that last week we brought in Chinese food, but that was actually my birthday dinner as I did not feel like going out.  This week I really would like some burnt ends to bring home, but that still leaves a whole lot of home cooking to be done.  And I want some chicken.

But first, I've got to deal with my nails.  I need a fill, it's been a full month.  My problem is that I hate to sit still and do nothing.  Sitzfleisch.  Attention deficit disorder.  Get me outta that chair.

Okay, it was worth it, but there was no way I was going to make it through a pedicure.  I had an errand at CVS, where I found this:

This is as bad as Christmas decorations in July!  Everyone knows that Cadbury eggs are the first sign of spring.  (Not crocuses.  My second grade teacher was wrong.)  Putting them out alongside Christmas clearance candy is absolutely scandalous.  Other than that, I had a very good experience at CVS.  Besides the excellent service, loyalty has its rewards, and I saved a ridiculous amount of money.

Next, I treated myself to a trip to the brand-spanking new Hobby Lobby on Osceola Parkway.  The store actually opened on my birthday, but I restrained myself from even leaving the house on the day after Christmas.  It was worth the wait.  Not to be politically incorrect (not that I care) but I love shopping at Hobby Lobby.  I've been seriously off-track in my knitting, and was hoping a trip to Hobby Lobby would inspire me.

And oh, did it ever!

I have made a conscious effort not to buy any yarn - it has been well over a year - but the minute I laid eyes on that, I knew I had to get it, and I knew exactly which pattern I am going to make with it.  Those colors ... if that skein of yarn doesn't help jump start my knitting mojo, I don't know what will. I broke my self-imposed yarn purchase moratorium, added some old-fashioned candy to the order, and walked out smiling.

So I was feeling rather chipper as I headed back out to Publix to do my food shopping.  The lake was so gorgeous, I had to stop again, this time on the northern perimeter just off of Neptune Road.

These two shots (top & bottom) are facing southwest, towards Lakefront Park

Looking southeast towards Sunset Pointe, a gated community on the eastern lakeshore.

So beautiful at the lake ... peace in my soul ... chicken on my mind.  By this time, I had decided on a pretty simple recipe, buttermilk baked chicken, from the Neelys.  I don't particularly like the Neelys, but some of their recipes don't suck.  Let's hope this is one of them.

After my visit to Publix and a careful examination of their provisions and sale items, I decided what to cook over the next few days:

Buttermilk Baked Chicken
Meatloaf, Version ?
Potatoes O'Bacon
Alpine Cheddar Soup

I've already tampered with the chicken recipe.  Check back tomorrow for the results of my folly.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Thriller from Vanilla - Very Vanilla Cupcakes

After court on the first day of the year, and after I shot the pictures of the downtown sculpture, I stopped by the lakefront.  Although I drive along the northwest edge of Lake Toho almost daily, and certainly have admired the beautiful improvements visible from the car window, I had not yet walked the paths of the interior.  The sky was overcast, but the sights were still delightful.

I have a "thing" for lakes.  While other people crave beach property facing the ocean, I prefer proximity to a lake.  Maybe it has to do with those summers I spent at Jewish sleepaway camps and resorts up in the Catskills, all of them situated around lakes.  When we moved from Long Island all those many years ago, I initially felt the loss of my beloved Lake Ronkonkoma, dramatically touching three townships and possessing two beaches on opposite sides.  Lake Ronkonkoma was also steeped in history, having been the eastern terminus of Vanderbilt's Long Island Motor Parkway, a race car driver's dream and an engineering marvel for its time and place.  Oh, and it has a curse. And it is bottomless.  I really missed it (the lake, not the curse) but got over it once I discovered Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, and East Lake Tohopekaliga in St. Cloud.

Man fishing on Lake Toho.  He waved, I waved back.  
Hope he got a good catch.

I could go on and on about Lake Toho, the Big Lake, world renowned for its bass fishing, its habitable islands which were sanctuary to the Seminole Indians during their various wars with the United States government, the rich and varied history, its fauna and flora, and its cute little lighthouse, which was built in 1999 and isn't really a lighthouse.  But while my obsession with finicky details about old buildings, maps, subways, and arcane history is well-known, I'm not sure it is shared by everyone.

Let's face it, the internet was invented for people like me, who can spend hours pouring over old pictures of the former Flatbush Avenue Long Island Railroad Terminal or Google maps of the building in which my Grandpa Albert had his music store in the 1950s.  I suppose that makes me eccentric, if not downright weird, and I do apologize if my mental meanderings are not your cup of tea.  The good news is that I have an utterly delectable cupcake recipe to enjoy with whatever is your cup of tea.

Kissimmee Lakefront, long long ago

The bad news is that, having drafted that yesterday evening with the plan being to finish it and post it later today, I woke up with a most horrible sort of headache, concentrating its evil powers on my right eye and side of my neck.  Since then it has sent tendrils of pain towards my left eye, the whole back of my neck and shoulder blades.  My usefulness quotient is practically zero, and I had to let my supervisor know I would not be in.  I hate to do that.  I hate having to admit to physical weakness, which I equate with aging.  I don't mind so much if my hair turns gray and my face shrivels like a prune - well, maybe just a little - but I do mind being slowed down.  It's not like I've ever been a marathon runner or terrifically athletic - I couldn't climb the damn ropes in fifth grade - but it should not be an issue for me to gather enough pain-free moments in a day to get to the office and work at my desk.

These are from yesterday; I didn't realize just how overcast the sky was. Gray, like my hair.  Sigh.

And here is the recipe for the cupcakes I wasn't able to bring into the office today. Sorry, guys.  But I'm going to freeze them and bring them in Monday.  Promise.

Very Vanilla Cupcakes

These are my answer to the triple chocolate cupcakes I baked last week.  The recipe is a super-vanilla version, light but rich.  The tops puff up beautifully in the oven, but sink down upon cooling.  Not to worry, I doubled the frosting.

1-18.5 oz. box classic white cake mix
1- 3.4 oz. box instant white chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 cup vanilla/white chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli)
Very Vanilla Frosting (below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line the muffin tins with paper liners.

Using a stand mixer or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat together all of the ingredients except for the chips. Beat for about two minutes on medium speed until well combined. Stir in the chips by hand.

Spray a regular ice cream scoop with release spray, and scoop, distributing the batter between the muffin cups.

Bake in preheated oven for 22-24 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin tins for about 10 minutes.

Remove cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. Once cupcakes are cool, prepare your frosting.  

Very Vanilla Frosting

2 - 16 oz. tubs creamy vanilla frosting
2 - 1/4 teaspoonfuls pure vanilla extract

Stir the frosting with a spoon, and add 1/4 teaspoon of the vanilla extract to each tub.  Use one tub for half the cupcakes (around 12) and then repeat with the other tub of frosting and the remaining cupcakes.  I used a large star tip and a one quart ziploc storage bag to pipe the frosting onto the cupcake, but you can use your favorite frosting method.  Just remember to fill in the depressions caused by the sinking tops.

The office cupcakes got a sprinkle of colorful non-pariels (Happy New Year!), while the home supply did not.  Good either way.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Art to Art - Lamb Sausage and Pasta with a Creamy Feta, Onion, and Sweet Pepper Sauce

Happy First Morning of the New Year!  I've already been to court in Orlando and back, stopped at Starbucks for the first time in at least a year, and took a mini-tour of my Kissimmee before returning to my home and crockpot.

I had previously promised myself I was going to snap a picture of the Andy Warhol sculpture in downtown Kissimmee before it disappeared.  So I stopped on my drive home down Broadway and shot Andy.

That started me on a photographic tour of a few more sculptures, and that led me to the lakefront.  Just a half hour, but very enjoyable.  I love Kissimmee, especially the part that tourists rarely see. I am utterly crazy about the artwork all around town, temporary and permanent.  Let me share a few of today's favorites.

Birds by Broadway Pizza

Camo Sumo Wrestler in front of City Hall

Water Fowl are Fair, or Bird's the Word in Kissimmee

"Come on along and listen to
The Lullaby of Broadway
The hip hooray and bally hoo
The Lullaby of Broadway"

The wonderful Jerry Orbach

You may be wondering the fate of the oxtails.  Or perhaps you ran screaming from the room when you saw the photo; if so, I'm guessing you are not the sort of person who orders a tongue sandwich when you go to Toojay's.  Truthfully, the oxtails are less weird than the tongue - they are just beef, folks, from a more cartilaginous part of the cow.  They braise well and make excellent stew.  Nice meaty oxtails are not easy to find, so when I do find them, and they are not priced through the roof, I snag 'em and bag 'em.  Since my fridge is currently full of cooked food, that means a nice rest in the freezer, just until the next big cooking cycle.  Recipe and photos to follow, ha ha.

Which will not stop me from cooking some lamb sausage I froze months ago.  For one thing, they are reaching the end of their effective freezing cycle and I don't like to pay for food that is just going to languish until it gets freezer-burnt.  And as it happens, I still have a nice amount of delicious tzatziki, which will pair beautifully with the sausage.

Another use of spices and spice blends is to layer the flavors of a dish by seasoning your aromatics - onions, garlic, celery, pepper, carrots - during the initial sauté.  For this dish, I am using Emeril's Essence, kosher salt, black pepper and some granulated garlic to season the onions.  Sort of like having Emeril Lagasse and Paula Deen sitting down to dinner together in your kitchen.

Lamb Sausage and Pasta with a Creamy Feta, Onion, and Sweet Pepper Sauce

1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter
1/2 large sweet onion, halved and sliced
Emeril's Essence, kosher salt, black pepper and granulated garlic, to taste
1 cup sliced sweet bell peppers, any color or combination
3/4 - 1 pound frozen lamb sausage (about 5 sausages)
1/4 cup dry white wine
dried oregano, to taste
1 - 16 oz. jar Ragu Roasted Garlic Parmesan cheese sauce
1 cup tri-color rotini pasta
1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
2 green onions, white and all green, sliced
1 - 6 oz. package crumbled feta cheese

Put the first five ingredients into a 3 or 4 quart crockpot in the order given.  Pour the wine over the top.  Cover and cook on low.  After two hours, carefully remove the sausages and stir the vegetables.  Add the oregano, stir again.  Return the sausage to the crockpot, rearranging them top to bottom.  Do not mix them in with the vegetables.  Cover and continue to cook on low.  After another hour, remove the sausages to a dish with some of the cooking liquid.  Turn the crockpot up to high and let the onions and peppers cook for another hour. Stir in the Ragu cheese sauce, cook until fully heated.  Add in the rotini, cover, and cook 15 minutes.  Stir in the tomato, green onion, and one cup of the feta cheese.  Cover and cook another 15 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.

To serve:  remove the rotini to a serving dish, with all of its sauce.  If you wish, top with the remaining feta cheese.  Slice the lamb sauce on the diagonal, and place it next to the pasta.  Serve with a side of tzatziki, and warm naan or garlic bread.

If you would like the recipe for the Tzatziki Sauce, click on the Index to Recipes in the upper right hand corner of this page.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Spice Girls Do It With Rubs

I'm a Spice Girl.  Heh heh heh.  No, I'm not, not even close.  In fact, I am as far from spicy as is humanly possible.  I am in a huge, honking rut.  All my edges are blunted.  My head is in a fog, my brain is on the disconnect setting.  I have fallen into a sinkhole and I can't get up.  I cannot get a damn thing accomplished.  I want to go home and curl up on the couch and fall asleep so I don't have to think about my inability to think.  I bloody HATE when this happens.  My back hurts, this is the freaking fibromyalgia, I just know it is.  I want my doggies.  Damn, this sucks.

And did I mention the hot flashes?  Unrelenting!

I have passed cranky and moved on to crabby.  If this keeps up, by tomorrow I'll be grouchy.  Lord help us all if I get to cantankerous! I am angry with myself and frustrated with Microsoft Outlook and I hate my office cell phone.

The good news is that I was able to eat today.  It's been a long time.

Let's speak briefly about spices.  According to Wikipedia:

spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetable substance primarily used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food. Sometimes a spice is used to hide other flavors.
Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are parts of leafy green plants used for flavoring or as a garnish.
Now you know everything you need to know.  Not really, not even close, but you probably already know a lot more about spices and their uses than you think you do, such as how important it is to check them periodically for freshness, to store them away from heat, and how effective they are at enhancing the flavor of almost any food, especially if you can give them time to season the food.  This is especially true of spice blends or spice rubs, which are used like a dry marinade.  Although they are called "spice" blends or rubs, they almost always contain herbs.  A good example is Emeril's Essence.  You can buy it commercially or you can make it yourself.  The recipe is all over the Internet.  I buy it commercially at BJ's Warehouse, as I also buy McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning and Montreal Chicken Seasoning, lemon pepper, garlic salt, seasoned salt, stuff that comes in big shaker jars.  Other rubs and blends I buy in smaller jars, and those I pick up at Publix, including Italian seasoning, herbes d' provence, five spice powder, curry powder, and Goya Sazon.

This is my "old" spice cabinet.  When we moved to the house in Kissimmee, I planned ahead and allotted much more space for spice.

The spice must flow ...

An advantage of keeping a well-stocked spice cabinet is that I can create my own spice blends as needed.  If I find something I really like, such as Bobby Flay's16-spice rub for smoked chicken, or the Jamaican Jolt,  Basic Barbecue Rub, or any number of blends I snag from Steven Raichlan, I make extra to keep in a shaker jar.  

And that is how I came to season these rather gorgeous oxtails with the spice blend I use on lamb.  Plus some more garlic, because we like garlic and garlic likes beef.  And lamb.  And chicken.

The oxtails on the right have been well-seasoned with the dry rub, and I lightly rubbed in the spices.  Afterwards, I wrapped the seasoned oxtails up very well with both plastic wrap and foil, slid them into freezer bags, and popped them into the freezer.

Lamb Chop Dry Rub:
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon celery seed
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon dried Valencia orange peel
1 teaspoon dried California lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine in a shaker jar with a screw top cover, and shake well before each use.  I use this on all different cuts of lamb, especially lamb shanks.  

Another good basic seasoning to keep near the stove is Paula Deen's House Seasoning.  

1 cup salt 
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

I use kosher salt for this, and granulated garlic.  Sometimes I add paprika, which reminds me of the spice blend my mother-in-law always had made up in her kitchen, long before anyone heard of Food Network.  Other times I add some onion powder and white pepper along with the paprika.

My grandmother used to combine the same spices with some corn oil to make a paste, which she then rubbed all over a chicken that was going to be baked or more likely broiled.  Another trick she taught me was to combine the spices with some ketchup (yes, Heinz ketchup) to make a paste for a roast beef.  

Happy New Year, everyone.