Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Be my Valentine, forever after...

Is it too early to think about Valentine's Day 2009? Maybe. Is it too early to think about personalized gifts expressing your appreciation? Never! Sure, there's a lot of fluffy junk out there that serves only one purpose - to fill the gift merchants' pockets. However, personalized gifts can be a whole 'nuther story - it's the thought, that counts, right? How about writing a love poem yourself? That "Cyrano de something" guy was pretty successful with that strategy - look it up! (Hint: Steve Martin) ;-) Then, send it in a gorgeous glass bottle to your honey! Engraved jewelry, silver boxes, hearts on a key chain - all great stuff! But guess what... Now they deliver absolutely fabulous gourmet meals (several courses) to your doorstep - all you do is heat them in your oven. No planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, serving, washing dishes - which makes these packages quite a bargain! I made a page with lots of tips on personalized (Valentine) gifts. Some require a little bit of planning ahead - so go and check them out soon. Chef Keem's Personalized Gift Ideas

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cooking Disasters - Part 1

That reminds me of the day when I cooked seafood samples for a large in-store audience at Whole Foods Market. I flipped 2 full pans simultaneously (with greasy hands) and they both slipped out of my grip and sailed smack-dab into the shocked crowd, splashing mahi-mahi all over their shoes. (I am now self-employed.) Bonnie made a fabulous lens about "Cooking Disasters"!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve - aren't we forgetting something?

Ironically, the last thing we want to think about on Christmas Eve is death, murder, danger, bombs, children screaming in pain, and the like...right? But we should make it a priority. Especially on Christmas. These brutal realities of war are daily occurrences for many thousands of our fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters in Iraq and Afghanistan. How can we possibly enjoy a peaceful Holiday without a mere thought or prayer for our troops? How can we possibly form the right thoughts in our minds without being thoroughly informed about the realities of life for our loved ones in arms? On this Christmas Eve of 2008, I made a Squidoo lens with war videos by Casey Porter. He took it upon himself to show us what's really going on in Iraq, by letting the soldiers and images speak for themselves. Watch these videos! It's the least you can do for our troops - as a Christmas present. Stop the loss - Iraq war realities on video. Photo courtesy of takomabibelot. Thank you.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

George Eckrich has vegan problems!

George is a master baker - he developed the wonderful Whole Foods Market bread bakery! A few years later, he brought an outstanding product to America: Dr. Kracker flat breads. Originally created in Germany by Dr. Karg, these healthy crackers can now be found in almost every supermarket across the USA. Good for George, and good for us, of course! George Eckrich and I both live in Austin, Texas and we're friends. This super-friendly guy has helped me a lot with good advice, over the years. George knows bread. Trust me on that one. Some time ago, I had made a Squidoo lens on Dr. Krackers. Meanwhile, George has picked up a vegan life style and he wrote a candid article about it. So, I made a new Squidoo page featuring George's experiences and I'd like for you to take a look: Dr. Krackers and George Eckrich

Friday, December 12, 2008

Learn "Spanish" in under 60 seconds. Really!

Ready? Go! Say... S as in "Scam" P as in "Put-on" A as in "Asinine" N as in "Nonsense" I as in "Idiot-proof" S as in "@&%#" H as in "Hey, this ain't funny!" There. Learned it. It takes a liiiitle bit longer to make a Squidoo lens. It takes no time at all to make a Squidoo Zazzle Gallery Showcase!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Temperer's New Clothes

chefs-wear Nice cooking clothes - don't you think? Wrong! A hot oil splash would singe through them leopard patches quicker than you can say "meow"! I know it's hard to shed the "little black one" for a stiff chefs coat, but Miss Keemie has the solution for you: Shop at Chef Keem's new fancy chef apparel page. That was easy, wudn't it? It's pretty incredible what you can find these days on the chefs clothing market. Of course, these "European-style" "Bistro" "Executive" "Asymmetric" "Pullover" (!) rags won't make a great cook out of a burger flipper, but it sure 's nice to pretend... Go take a look: Chef Wear and Cooking Clothes

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Come - Thing a Thong...

Photo courtesy of grendelkhan. Thank you. A thong contest is a beautiful thing! Sometimes, the music is so loud that nobody will notice your lisp. I wonder what moron came up with the idea to put an "s" in the word "lisp", anyway. Even though I find a lisp cute and/or funny, I would never make fun of the person having a lisp. Especially, if they are depressed about it. I made a somewhat confusing lens, playing around with the words "thong" and "song". It might be a fun experiment to see how the search robots react to this. I can't wait! A Thong is a Beautiful Thing

Friday, November 28, 2008

Aging Rock Star - I'm talking about me...

Before this year is over, I wanted to look back - 40 years ago... I played in a semi-professional Top 40 band in Munich, Germany. Most of our gigs were for American soldiers stationed in one of the military bases in our area. We played rock, soul, R & B, you name it. We didn't play very good, but everyone drank a lot of beer and that made our music sound acceptable, I guess. Our band was called 'The Penny Dreadful": Josef - drums, vocals Harro - bass, vocals Juergen - keyboards, vocals Bernd, Andy, Rolf, Harry (one at a time, over the course of 4 years) - guitar Achim (Chef Keem) - keyboards, saxophone, percussion, vocals Earlier this year, my former band mates organized a reunion. They all played together again - without me, I'm in Texas now. My friends sent me pictures. I post one here, next to a black & white image from a contact print of our band promo material. It's amazing to look at these side by side, and wonder what happened with 40 years' worth of time. I'm looking at our old band pictures and it feels like it all happened...well...40 years ago. (In case you were wondering - I'm the second from the right in those old prints.) chef-keem-band chefkeem-band

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

2008 Giant Squid Awards - May I ask for your vote, please!

Would you please take a minute - wait, in all honesty, it'll take about 5 minutes - and cast your vote for the 2008 Giant Squid Awards? I am humbled and honored by my 3 nominations: Best Baking Lens - "Best Peach Cobbler Recipe" Best Lensography - "Chef Keem :: My Lensography" Giant of the Year - "Chef Keem" What can I say? There are so many deserving lenses and lensmasters - it's hard to make a single selection. On the other hand - you know what you like. And if that happens to be one of my lenses, or my personality for the Giant Award, I'd appreciate your vote in deep gratitude. Main thing - vote. Please. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Food-testing is not as easy as you might think!

Take pop tarts. Which ones taste the best? Whoa! Not so fast! There are a few waaay more important things to consider before you can settle on the yummiest of them all. How about aerodynamics, hah? Wouldn't you want to know just how far your flatbed muffin ejects before you can burn your sticky fingers on it? Flammability? Don't you dare waving me off, pal! Recent statistics have shown that far more kitchen fires could be prevented if people would eat their breakfast foods in a semi-frozen state. Your toaster should be toast! Anyway, I want you to go and check out this hilarious page about the best Toaster Pastries. Be safe.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My AGASWEET has a new face!

About 4 years ago, I created AGASWEET flavored agave nectar - a low-glycemic and diabetic-friendly natural sweetener made from the juice of the agave plant. Last year, the "biggies" approached me - Whole Foods market, Central Market Texas, etc. I decided to play in the big leagues - and it almost bankrupted me. It takes money to make money. But when do you make money? That's the question... To make a long, nasty story short - I found a young and energetic couple of entrepreneurs as new business partners. We improved on the flavorings and designed a new label for my AGASWEET. Things are looking up again. Come by for a visit, would you? The New AGASWEET Flavored Agave Nectar

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What do "real men" do when it's cold outside?

They stay in...inside their pink, blue, or black fuzzy bunny slippers. That's right. What could be better than a lazy Sunday morning without any pressure whatsoever, and there's time to play around in the kitchen, harassing your small appliances? Nothing, for a chef. Now you see what I look like when I'm not in the glaring lime light of public attention. (Which is, most of the time!) I poke some fun at myself in this lens. And, I offer you some cool fuzzy large-size bunny slippers for men and for sale. So you can, too. (Poke fun at yourself, that is.) Fuzzy Bunny Slippers

Friday, November 21, 2008

Two questions, turkey slaughter, and Squidoo tips!

Seemingly unrelated - these crossed my mind, today. Why do they advertise "restaurants with an extensive wine list" in a radio commercial? With traffic noise in the background it sounds like "expensive". Why do men go to strip clubs to watch sports and eat cheap steaks? The Gov should have chosen a different background: For a collection of my Squidoo Tips go to my lightly humorous sub-lensography.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ribeye Steak with Las Vegas Legend Andre Rochat

Chef Andre is my friend and mentor. I'm so proud of that. Imagine... This French Master Chef has helped to make Vegas the culinary destination it is today. Only he started doing this 25 years ago. His legendary restaurants, "Andre's" and "Alize", have raised the food quality standards long before Keller, Flay, even Puck had set foot in "Sin City". Andre Rochat likes to go salmon fishing. So, for the last 6 years he came to the Driftwood Lodge in SE Alaska, where yours truly is the executive chef for the coho season. He's my guest, and you bet he makes me nervous. But much more so, he inspires me to cook the best food I'm able to produce, every evening. Andre is a very generous guy. He cooks dinner for all his fishermen friends on the last night of the week-long stay at the lodge. I help him with prep, and I usually make the dessert. We all look forward to this culinary experience: Chef Andre's steak au poivre, with bourbon cream sauce and potatoes au gratin. Visit my Squidoo lens for a peek behind the scenes - when a true master cooks a perfect ribeye steak.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2 Hot Tips Are Better Than One, Right?

Reading this in the "Specialty Food News": "Down economy increases chicken pot pie sales..." "...23%..." Cluck. Chicken pot pie, Shmicken pot pie. There are some lenses already made. What about all the other pot pies? Beef, turkey, vegetable, wild boar, antelope, rabbit, armadillo... Shouldn't you be off making beautifully aromatic Squidoo pages about the luscious world of pot pies? "PotPieWorld." Not "PotPieGirl" - she's got one of the best blogs for lensmasters. Go, check it out. This was "Hot Tip" #1. Stay tuned for... "Hot Tip" #2: Learn how to blog, better and better and better - here , here and here. Not necessarily in that order. (O.k. - these were "Hot Tips" #2, 3, and 4. Sosumi.) I'm so honored by you dear followers of this blog. Thank you from the bottom of my charred chef's heart.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Progress Report #1: Zip & Lift

I'm just thinking... Why do we get these "easy-zip", "instant-rip", "re-sealable" food packages now where we can't find the notch to begin our ripping? And why are these re-sealable bags so hard to re-seal? (Press the two ribs together on one end and swipe across for the best way to be left with a yawning opening.) Why all the newest convenience technology if I have to put that thing in a plastic bag, anyway? Why have a pull-off lid on a can of condensed milk? If you're not extremely careful during the last stage of "pulling" - the lids snaps off and cuts your finger. The good news is, the wound will dry quickly under a mess of sticky condensed milk. Why is progress sometimes such a pain in the kitchen?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A "Sweet" Poll! Obama, Chocolate, and You!

Interesting! Mr. Obama's favorite chocolate is Smoked Sea Salt Caramel in Milk Chocolate, from Seattle-based "Fran's Chocolates". He loves to cook chili. He doesn't eat much sweets. Except for pumpkin pie. I can identify with our president-elect's taste. How about you? Would you like to learn more about these exquisite truffles (pictures!) and voice your opinion in a series of funny little "sweet" polls? Would you like to browse some wonderful chocolate offers and other delectables in this Holiday Gift Shopping Guide with Obama's favorite foods? Mosey on over to my new Squidoo page on Obama's Favorites...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

FREE tickets for 2009 Inauguration! Only $10,800.99

Saw it on TV, this morning: people spend a fortune on tickets for January 20th. Crazy! Why? Tickets aren't even being sold, yet. They'll be released to Congressional personnel less than a week before the event. Brokers hope to get a piece of the pie. Basically - by buying them from insiders. These tickets will be given out for free. Contact your Congressman or State Rep for info. However, some tickets will be sold. For arms, legs, and even more important extremities! I collected all the relevant info on one page. This one! And while you're there, check out my HOT recommendations of what you could buy INSTEAD of a ticket to the Presidential Inauguration Ceremonies 2009...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Best leftover recipe to die from (after the holidays)!

Some dishes are so good you don't care if they kill ya, right? You just want to eat and eat - unfortunately, you can't eat all that much of a truly rich dish. I always regretted that. Why is it that the better and richer a meal is, the sicker you get after fewer bites? People realized this many years ago and coined the phrase "Life ain't fair". Or something. This year in Alaska, I had a bunch of cooked red potatoes and a handful of thinly-sliced Idahos (from a scalloped potato dish) left-over. Lazy bum I am, I thought about using these for another side dish that evening. What's better than taters, bacon, and onions? Well - "with cream", for starters. That's better! So, I came up with a potato green bean carrot bacon onion gruyere casserole recipe. In short - pgbcbogcr. But I digress... I show you exactly how to make this thing, with tons of pictures and step-by-step instructions - here: Best Potato Casserole In The Universe

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Freedom of Speech - definable?

A couple of years ago, somebody burned an American flag. Protesting something, of course. My friend said: "I feel like beating the s**t out of them!" I said: "Freedom of speech, buddy!" He said: "Exactly. It's MY opinion that THEY are wrong, so I have the legally protected freedom to beat them up." I doubt it. Where does Freedom of Speech stop? Where do we draw the line? Who'll be the judge? People suffered from repercussions.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Baby-Naming Frenzy! "Obama" "Barack" "Michelle"

Would you name your baby "Obama"? "Barack"? "Michelle"? "Britney"? The question is: do you think about the later years in your baby's life, when kiddo's got to run around with a "funny" name? Will "Obama" still represent the hope of America? Hopefully, yes. Will "Britney" still make 'em faint? Probably, not. Voice your opinion on my page: "Top Baby Name Obama"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Perfect for the Holidays - Cream Puff Swans!

Do you know how to make a French Pastry Cream? (Now you do!) A batch of this rich vanilla custard is always good to have on hand - for a simple dessert with fruit, chocolate, cookies, etc. More importantly, you'll need this classic preparation called "creme patisserie" for a tasty filling of cream puffs and pastry swans. "Oohs" and "Aahs" are guaranteed when you present this fancy dessert on a beautifully "painted" plate. Find detailed instructions with step-by-step photos of the procedure on my new Squidoo lens: Cream Puffs and Pastry Swans

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How to make the world a better place...

How do we make the world "a better place"? By contributing our own part - big or small! A 10%- donation of our lens earnings is not too much for most (if not all) of us, but if hundreds or (gasp!) thousands of Squidoo lensmasters come together in such a campaign - the impact can be huge! This is what Squidoo is all about - small, painless, individual contributions to charity, multiplied through the sheer number of generous members. This lens shall highlight some of our most charitable folks on Squidoo.com: The "Squidoo Charity Boosters"! Go visit and give them a "big hand" because - 10% will change the world! The Squidoo Charity Boosters

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Moistest, richest, easiest brownie. The Recipe.

I've made thousands of them - and they still want more! LOL! Talking about my brownies...they love 'em! Especially my Alaska lodge guests - all 14 of 'em. I need to make a full pan every day! Yes, they "go" fast... Nice thing about it, you can customize the recipes so easily. Want more chocolate? Just add a cup or two of dark chocolate chips. Or milk chocolate chips. White, butterscotch, toffee, whatever. Works all with this recipe. Under-bake them a bit, if you like. Yumm. Gooey. Good! These brownies are even good after a couple of days in the fridge. With hot coffee...oh, my! My new Squidoo lens shows you exactly how to make these marvelous morsels of mmirvana... (sorry - my mouth is full!). Lots of detailed pictures of the procedure, even a couple of offers for interesting new brownie pans, and more... "Fabulous Brownies Recipe"

Friday, October 31, 2008

Balancing the scare - Silent Night revisited!

It's a bit early for Christmas stuff. Is it? Yes, it is. But I can listen to "Silent Night, Holy Night" anytime, and it gives me goose bumps. The simple melody is "pure genius". Written in 1918 by Franz Xaver Gruber, it's first and foremost purpose was to provide the Christmas music for a small church in Austria. 2 years earlier, Joseph Moor had created the lyrics, so he asked his friend Gruber for a guitar arrangement. The church organ had broken down, but the congregation didn't want to celebrate Christmas Eve Mass without their own music. The story of "Silent Night" is amazing. By 1900, the song was performed on all continents. Today there are versions in 300 dialects and languages, recorded by over 300 artists. Bing, Tony, Perry, Mahalia, Andy, Britney, Christina, Mariah, Celine, Andrea...you name them. Swing on over to my Squidoo lens about this marvelous tune, and listen to a few very, very beautiful versions of "Silent Night, Holy Night".

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Candy! Candy! Candy! Bacon...

Bacon and chocolate is all over the place. Even Vosges has something along these lines. I like that about America. In Germany, where I'm from, consumers are much narrower-minded. Huh?!? Bacon and chocolate, turkey and cranberry sauce, peanut butter and jelly, ham and pineapple? I'm sure, tastes have evolved a bit in the meanwhile - but I remember as if it had happened 30 years ago - 30 years ago we made fun of Americans and their strange flavor combinations. Sweet AND savory? Hello-oh! I have a little specialty chocolate company. Today I met with the owner of a funky candy shop in the heart of Austin, Texas - Big Top Candy. We're going to create some crazy stuff - "the hottest chocolate in the world" is one of our planned items. We'll have to restrict the sales to 5 ounces per person/day. And we'll have to ID our customers. And they'll have to sign a release form. And we'll have a nurse standing by. And, yes, we count on a lot of brave frat boys trying to impress their dates. Don't inhale in front of the counter display! I'll keep you posted...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bras across bridge in Austin, TX

This was a spiffy little breast cancer awareness event: bras across the Ann Richards Bridge in Austin. Sponsored by KASE 101, women (mostly) made a "chain" of bras along the sidewalk. One woman shared her story, everyone had free tea, and we went back home. Brief thing. Still, I had a nice conversation with one husband of a cancer survivor. He was all excited about the complete restoration of his wife's breast. Made me happy!

Wanna look like Homer?

Simpson, that is. A hilarious little toy: "Simpsonize" yourself! Get a portrait photo of yourself or someone else (minimum size 640 x 480), and upload it to "Simpsonize me". Then, play.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ever had wild duck - cooked right?

Overcooked duck turns into "liver"! Nasty stuff. And it's a shame to waste the delicious meat of the bird. All of my guests at the Alaskan Driftwood Lodge tell me all the time (I'm NOT exaggerating!): "This is the BEST duck I've ever eaten in my whole life!" - a compliment from guys who go fishing and hunting all over the country and abroad. It means a lot! I cut the duck breasts into 2-bite-size pieces and marinate them for about 30 - 60 minutes in a mixture of fresh garlic, shallots, rosemary, olive oil, and a coarse steak seasoning blend. Then I heat a dry non-stick pan to the smoking point. I sear the meat for about a minute on one side, and another 45 seconds or so on the other side. That's it. Rare! The carry-over heat will finish the cooking to medium-rare on the way from the kitchen to the table. Serve immediately! A fun way to present this dish is as "Duck Nachos". Layer tortilla chips with cheese and jalapenos, and place the duck pieces on top and around the sides of the serving platter. I'll give step-by-step instructions together with lots of pictures and a video demonstration on my new page: "Wild Duck Recipe". Bon appetite!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ms. Keemie's Love Advice Column

I've been missing something - on Squidoo... We're such a friendly and supportive community of lensmasters, yet - there's no place to go when we need profound advice on love, relationship, or life-in-general issues. No Dr. Phil or Dr. Laura (thank God!), or whatever in that direction. Until now! Just released and proudly announced: Ms. Keemie's Love Advice Column Ask anything that depresses, concerns, bothers or messes with you - about yourself or others - and Ms. Keemie will literally save you from putting that little gun to your temple! Whatever sinks your boat - Ms. Keemie has sunk lower. Believe me. Ms. Keemie has been there, done that, and risen from the ashes. Now, for the first time, this unbelievably generous woman will share her wisdom with the world. For free, to boot. Go, ask, and be happy again! Ms. Keemie's Love Advice Column - You'll be glad you asked!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Coastal Pictures from beautiful SE Alaska

Here's a pictorial of a trip from Cordova, AK to the coastal area by the Tsiu river in SE Alaska. Our Cessna 206 single-engine plane takes us across the Bering glacier, the Copper river delta, and down to the Driftwood Lodge, into a remote location close to the Gulf of Alaska coast. I hope my pictures can convey some of the extraordinary beauty at the beach. (I almost said: "Beauty and the Beach" - but you would have killed me, right?) Come along with me, if you would, and see an untouched piece of nature, so soothing to the soul. Coastal Pictures of Alaska

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Squidoo - A Good Investment?

Squidoo has taken over a good part of my life. At times, I even dream about making lenses...crazy, huh? The question is: Is it really worth it? My answer is a hearty "yes"! I'm happy with my returns, so far. So, I made a lens about this. Of course. It is amazing how much I've learned over the past 8 months, or so: SEO, HTML, graphic design, creative writing, blogging - all things I didn't have a clue about at the beginning of my Squidoo adventures. I join the ranks of many, many people who say, "I love Squidoo!" To find out more about my "reason why", please visit my new page: "Squidoo - A Good Investment?"

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How To Make Sourdough Bread

I do it in Alaska. Every day. Making sourdough bread, that is! And it's easy! Mix a little flour, water, active dry yeast and sugar together, let it sit and absorb the wild yeast in the air - and in 3 days you have a fine "mother". Use some every day, and feed her every day - that's all she needs to grow and get happily sour. I use fairly large proportions of my sourdough starter with my breads - even sweet breads, at times. It makes everything moist and tasty, and the textures are marvelous. There were season in the past, when we got an existing starter ("mother") at the beginning of the job, from a friendly B&B owner in Cordova. Those batches came from a starter that had been kept alive for many years - and it was very good. Our relationship with this owner has dried up, and so has our sourdough starter supply. But, no worry. Now, I hop off the plane at the Driftwood Lodge (where I cook for salmon fishermen during silver season), and I get my "mother" going. The air in SE Alaska is filled with black flies...er..no, wild yeast, and my starter gets bubbling in no time flat (what a nasty pun, sorry!). Look, I made a lens with lots of pictures and detailed descriptions of how to make sourdough bread. Come visit when you get a chance, o.k.?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bear Hunting With Sarah Palin

...and other grisly grizzlies. The big game hunting issues won't be resolved easily. Killing animals for sport and trophy is a completely natural thing in many peoples' minds. I understand that. We are raised with certain values and it's hard to change when you don't see any reason for doing so. My upbringing did not include any hunting, so it would be easy for me to judge others on this subject. I won't do it, though. I just don't hunt myself - for balance. We'll all find out sooner or later what's the right thing to do. Who says I'm right? I made a page with very graphic images from a recent bear hunt in Alaska, and I included a few links and clips about Sarah Palin's wisdom. Please visit and judge for yourself. Bear hunting with Sarah Palin GrizzlyBay.org offers a wealth of more info on these issues.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Flying to Alaska - Flying in Alaska

I live in Austin, Texas. It takes a while to get up to Alaska from here. First to Denver, Minneapolis, or Chicago, depending which airline we use. Then to Anchorage, and with a small jet or twin prop back down to Cordova. Here, our boss picks me up in his Cessna 206 and we fly out to the Tsiu River. One year, I hitched a ride in the jump seat of the DC-3 that flew supplies to the lodge. These Alaska "workhorses" seem to be indestructible. The pilots told me that their plane has flown on D-Day across the Normandy, already. Can you imagine? Over 60 years ago! During our 90-minute flight to the lodge, the pilot and co-pilot had a lively conversation about all the things NOT working on the plane. Eavesdropping from my shaky little folding seat right behind them, I started to get a bit nervous. I asked them if at least the landing gear would function properly. They laughed and offered me a cigar with the words: "This is a smoking plane, buddy!" Look at some great pics at my "Alaska Lodge" lens.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I'm back from Alaska!

My internet connection was way too slow for blogging. But I'm back with a lot of stories to tell. While I was gone, the good folks at Squidoo HQ decided that I'd make a worthy Squid Angel, so they gave me a badge. I'm tickled pink, honored, humbled, excited. And I made a new Squidoo lens about it: Squid Angel Blessings by Chef Keem My annual cheffing gig at the Driftwood Lodge was a great success. We served fabulous food and the guests were very happy. Many of them go on fishing trips all over the country, several times a year. They always tell me that they are surprised at the quality of my food, and that they haven't eaten this good anywhere else before. That's nice to hear. It makes me proud! Over the course of the next few months, I will post regularly about my adventures and recipes, with a load of great pictures. To whet your appetite, I start with a few impressions of the Driftwood Lodge, our home for the silver salmon season at the Tsiu River in SE Alaska, next to the mouth of the Bering Glacier.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Night I peed on a Bear...

It was 11:30 p.m., on a clear and chilly August night at the Driftwood Lodge in SE Alaska - when I had to pee. I stepped outside, behind the lodge, where one can stand at the edge of a 3-foot dip giving way to a vast expansion of the tundra surrounding our piece of land - and I went about my "business". During the day, one can see the Chugach Mountain Range, about 20 miles away, and the dense growth of alder and cottonwood stretching across the area. At night, all I could see was the moon and the mountain tops in their yellowish luster. I had just arrived 2 days ago, for the first time in the last frontier, to work as the chef of the lodge during the upcoming silver salmon season. And I was star-struck, so to speak, by the dramatic beauty of the land and its views, especially on this beautiful summer night near the Gulf of Alaska's thrashing surf. As I was standing there in the moon light, spraying my arc of relief into the bushes across the night-black dip in front of me, I noticed the outline of a strangely familiar shape rising slowly from the darkness of the ground, about 5-6 feet away. The "shape" became taller than I, and the "outline" became clearer, while I was "holding on" to the last, somewhat hesitant phase of my "business" at hand. And then everything seemed to happen at the same fraction of a nano second: the "shape" turned into a definite live brown bear hovering 6 feet away in wonder and puzzlement over my "wet approach", me remembering everything they told me about encountering a bear (wave your arms, holler, DON'T run!), dismissing it at the same moment, turning around and racing back into the safety (?) of the lodge, where a couple of our fishing guides finished their last beer of the evening. One of these brave young men grabbed his rifle and went back outside to chase off the "wet one". He was still there, in the shrubs, exploring the origins of those wonderful kitchen scents he had probably picked up from miles away. We could hear him moseying around for a while longer, until our guide's profanity yells must have persuaded him to move on. At least, I have a witness - I was not hallucinating! I had peed on a bear!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fresh from the Tsiu River - Alaskan Silver Salmon

You know what? I don't really like salmon. Never did. Until... ...I had my first freshly caught silver from the Tsiu River in SE Alaska. This is good eating! My favorite cooking method is a quick saute in butter and spices, finished in a hot oven. Watch this video from my Alaska lodge kitchen for a demonstration of my way of cooking silver (coho) salmon fillets.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Alaska is calling - and I come...

Next Sunday, I will hop on the planes. Yes, it will take four planes to get me to my Alaska lodge kitchen: Austin - Seattle - Anchorage - Cordova - Driftwood Lodge. I've been cooking for our guests - fly fishermen from all over the country - for the last 10 years. The Driftwood Lodge operates only during the silver salmon (coho) season from mid-August through mid-October. The fishing is awesome, the duck hunting is great, and my food is quite popular. Let me show you how I like to prepare wild duck breast. I made a little video, directly from my lodge kitchen.

Friday, August 8, 2008

How to say I love you (before it's too late)

I've been there. I've said "I love you" and the person pulled away, shocked: "Why did you say that? It's too soon - you don't know it yet!" What is it, that I "don't know yet"? How much information do I need to gather before I can follow my heart and say I love you? Just as with so many other things in our lives - when we are about to say "I love you" - we take our past and put it into our future! We quickly go back over our entire emotional history and think about everything that happened the last times we said "I love you", and we expect the same things to happen this time again. We subconsciously pre-load our spontaneous feelings and when we finally decide to express them they come out somewhat like this: I love you because I usually get a great boost to my self-esteem from your positive reaction and we have a lovely time together until things start to cool off and it gets really awkward for a while and we call it quits and that hurts - and I better shouldn't have said I love you in the first place. I love you but then you might want to get married and all of a sudden my money goes out the door for all kinds of clothing and furniture which we don't need if we don't move in together leave alone having kids and I work my butt off and have no more fun...let me just say - I really like you! I love you but what if I'm not good enough for you and when we get closer you'll find out about all my bad habits and weaknesses and I'm sure your mother will have something to say about me that will influence you negatively towards me and I couldn't possibly survive a rejection of my feelings - why can't we just be friends for a while? Funny, isn't it? Notice how the "I love you's" are closely followed by "I" or "me" references?

Could it be that "I love you" means...

I am now committed to your well-being regardless of my thoughts or feelings?

I'm taking a closer look at this topic on my lens "How to say I love you".

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Huge Buzz for Operation Helmet on Squidoo

Squidoo lensmasters are the most generous and big-hearted folks on the web. The proof lies in their lenses. For the last several days, a growing number of Squidoo members have created lenses to benefit "Operation Helmet". These good folks have definitely understood the urgency of this movement to provide appropriate helmet gear to our troops. I've blogged about this earlier, but it is paramount that we get the word out as much as possible. Here is a new presentation explaining what soldiers need and how we can help. Must help.
Operation Helmet - Get more Information Technology To watch the presentation, The Life You Save May Save Another! from Operation Helmet simply click on the image above.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bacon and Chocolate is good. Very good!

Playing around with unusual flavor combinations for a new client - a Circus-themed candy shop - I discovered something very good, my friends: bacon and chocolate go real well together.

I went even further with my research and browsed a few pages dealing with "molecular gastronomy".

Here's what I presented to my client:

Dark chocolate with bacon bits, dehydrated apple chunks, and butterscotch chips.

He emailed me a few days later and reported that he "can't stop eating this stuff".

Meanwhile, I'm dipping baby koshers.

In dark chocolate, no less.

Photo by rumpleteaser. Thanks.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

How To Really Support Our Troops - "Operation Helmet"

It's hard to imagine that years into the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan our troops still don't have the proper helmet system designed to protect them from IED's and other sudden blast forces.

Whether it is the muddled bureaucracy, or the influence of special interest groups - serious blunders on the side of their leadership have left our heroes exposed to unnecessary deaths and lifelong brain injuries.

In 2004, Dr. Bob Meaders founded "Operation Helmet", a non-profit organization that provides the correct suspension pad systems free of charge to our soldiers - in the field and at home awaiting deployment. These upgrade kits cost under $100 and can be installed in about 15 minutes.

Can you imagine a better, faster, more direct and immediate way to save a life that might even save another?

Forget the "Made in China" ribbon stickers - support our troops! Really.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Have you "wordled", yet? What a fun little toy!

Check this out - "wordle" any text or web page and create a cloud with the most prominent words of the content.

You can play with the layout, fonts, and colors, too.

Boy, is this fun! >>>>>>>>>>>>>> Wordle!

I "wordled" my Squidoo Lensography. (Photo)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bavarians Enjoy Big Breakfasts

I was born and raised in Munich, Germany. So I know a thing or two about Bavarian breakfasts. Country folks like to get up early, everywhere in the world. There are cows to be milked, and other chores to be taken care of before the sun comes up. A quick cup of strong coffee and a piece of delicious breakfast bread serve well as a first breakfast. Around 9 o'clock in the morning, it's time for the all-important second (Bavarian) breakfast. Here is where it gets interesting. A good, nutritious beer is of utmost importance. It should not be too heavy on the stomach, and not too high in alcohol content, either. A yeasty wheat beer is just right. We call it "Weissbier". But what about the meats? We have two main options: Weisswurst or Leberkaese. And pretzels, of course. And sweet mustard, too. All this should be eaten before 11 a.m., because around 12:30 or 1:00. the pork roast with bread dumplings is awaiting consumption. Have you ever wondered why Bavarians are big and strong? Get your recipes and more detailed info on my page "Scratch Baking For A Bavarian Breakfast". Photo by intercultura.es on flickr.com

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bake Sale For Squidoo Charities! W00t.

There's a new posse in town - the Squidoo Activists!

We're a core group of charity-friendly lensmasters who are committed to producing more revenue for existing and new charity programs through Squidoo. This is going to be great fun, and the payback will be huge, too. My contribution is a tutorial on how to make my famous "Tres Leches Coconut Macaroons".

Remember the law - the more you give, the more you receive.

Currently, we're running a charity bake sale. Lensmasters make pages on the topic "baking" and set the proceeds to charity. Check out what's in the group, already. Then go and make a lens yourself, and add it to the group. Deadline is July 24th.

Watch for next week's theme and make another lens for the chance to win a prize!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Flavored Agave Nectar - A Reminder.

Much has been said and written about the benefits of agave nectar. It is a perfectly natural sweetener even suitable for diabetics due to it's low glycemic index rating - it won't cause a "sugar rush". Because agave nectar is 1.4 times sweeter than sugar, you can save on your calorie and carbohydrate intake by using less of it for the same sweetening power. So far, so good. Flavored agave nectar greatly expands the versatility of uses and promotes this healthy syrup into the condiment department. In addition to sweetening your coffee and tea, a few drizzles of lemon-flavored agave nectar quickly transform a rather ordinary piece of steamed fish into a palate-pleasing gourmet item. The secret here lies in the fact that when you address all taste buds simultaneously, this synergy creates a "flavor explosion" in your mouth. For exactly that reason, good chefs often add a little sugar or honey to their savory preparations. Aside from tickling the receptors for sour, salty, and bitter - the "sweet" buds get stimulated at the same time - and the the guests break out in "mmh-ing" compliments. The "Agasweet" brand flavored agave nectar offers 7 varieties: Pure Vanilla Pure Almond Lemon Cinnamon Peppermint Lavender Tangerine Ginger The flavoring agents are therapeutic-grade essential oils, except for Vanilla and Almond, which contain pure extracts. Imagine the possibilities for pancakes, waffles, cereals and yogurt! Amazingly, agave nectar has the quality of bringing out the flavors of any foods it is combined with. Take a handful of fresh strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries and macerate them with a few squirts of Tangerine Ginger Agasweet. After an hour or so, enjoy a fresh fruit dessert unlike any you have ever tasted. The remaining juice is simply divine! Throw some steaks, chops, or chicken breasts on the grill. At serving time, glaze the meats with a drizzle of Cinnamon or Lemon Agasweet and your guests will wonder what you have done that makes everything taste so good. The best way to enjoy flavored agave nectar is by using it in the purest form possible - from the bottle onto the food. The subtle yet distinct flavors add a gentle accent to your dishes, without being overpowered by the food's natural flavors. Don't hesitate to go overboard with flavored agave nectar when it comes to desserts. Use it in whipped creams (or on top) and custards, as a fabulous sauce for cheese cakes and other pastries, or simply on top of your favorite ice cream. You'll be surprised at the enhancing properties of this natural syrup. Be adventurous - play with different flavor combinations and try something a bit different, too. The French have used culinary lavender for centuries in their rustic bistro fare. Combined with agave nectar, lavender works wonders on lamb roasts and in bread. Especially when paired with lemony dishes, lavender will quickly seduce you away from the initially unfamiliar flavor experience into a surprised awakening toward something new - and wonderful!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chef Karen Knows Best - The Power Of Cinnamon

Several times in the past few weeks, I've overheard my wife, Chef Karen, advising our farmers market customers on the antimicrobial power of cinnamon oil, as we use it in our Agasweet Cinnamon flavored agave nectar. I had been somewhat clueless in regard to this particular quality.

A couple of days ago, I found this article on the USDA Agricultural Research Service, touting the immense "antimicrobial punch" of cinnamon essential oils, along with the essences of oregano, thyme, and clove. Would you believe that these flavorful gifts from Mother Nature are strong enough to quell such food-borne pathogens as E. coli?

Learned something: listen to my wife. Learned something new?

There's quite a bit more info on essential oils and their culinary applications on my pages about Cooking with Lavender and Tangerine Ginger Dream Recipes. Have a look.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Thinking Man's Guide To The Benefits Of Driving Like A Complete Idiot

Driving in L. A. is one thing - fast, furious, and (mostly) competent.

Driving in Austin, Texas is a different thing - fast, furious, and (mostly) moronic.

As a long-time resident of our beautiful city in the Texas hill country I feel obligated to (finally) speak up and do my part to remedy the situation. That's why I published the ultimate manual slash scientific handbook slash bible slash -

Thinking Man's Guide To The Benefits Of Driving Like A Complete Idiot

May the force be losing you.

Photo by CJSorg

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Anonymous Alcoholic - A Superhero!

I made a Squidoo page about my personal experiences with (my) alcoholism - the bad and the good.

This lens was one of five winners of the Squidoo Superhero Charity Project and generated $500 for "Room to Read". Additionally, it was chosen to be the "Lens of the Day" for this weekend. Many honors - and I'm truly grateful.

These honors belong, of course, to my late AA sponsor, Buddy T., and the many recovering alcoholics around the world who carry the message to other alcoholics.

Aldous Huxley called the co-founder of AA - Bill W. - the "greatest social architect of the 20th century". The truth in this title is easy to recognize if you consider the staggering number of lives saved and transformed by the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The many responses on the page show that this topic is a timely as ever - possibly even more so as our living conditions get more and more depressing as we burden ourselves as a society with wars, greed, and cultural indifference with potentially horrifying consequences. It's very seductive to ease our mounting pain with booze and pills. It also makes everything worse.

Please join the conversation.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Natural Viagra - Watermelon Rind

You might have concluded from reading the headline that I'll talk about two different topics. Wrong - it's one and the same: watermelon rind is natural viagra. Let Margaret Schaut tell you more about it. O.k., you're here already - let's talk about something else, too. Food prices have been climbing and climbing, and they will continue to do so. How do people cope with that? Read this interesting article in USA Today. Today's recommended blog posts: Michael Ruhlman on cast iron cook ware. Anthony Bourdain on summer vacation.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Welcome to Bistro Le Marseillais!

Wouldn't you be elated if you knew that these two friendly folks were first-rate chefs and they wanted to cook for you?

Eric and Martine Pelegrin were the chefs at Austin's beloved Chez Nous Restaurant, when in the fall of 2003 they decided to go into business for themselves. I remember their days at the local farmers market - we bartered my sweets for their unbelievable pork rilette, salmon mousse, or a variety of other French specialties.

Soon they moved on to greater things. After a brief stint running a small but popular "supper club" in South Austin, Eric and Martine founded their new venture "Bistro Le Marseillais". For several years now, the Austin gourmet community can order from a gorgeous online menu and get their French heat-and-eat meals delivered to their door step. What a wonderful concept!

Eric and Martine are two chefs who won't cut corners. They get only the best ingredients they can find for their preparations, even if it means to drive a few extra miles or to pay more money for freight. We are blessed to have them around, here in good old Austin, Texas.

Another reason why I'm blogging about my dear chef buddies - Martine writes a weekly newsletter on the front page of their web site and I want you to read it often, whether you'll order or not. Her personal stories and her historical accounts of French dishes, cocktails, individual food items, and much more, are so refreshing to read, and highly informative, too.

Go, say hello to Eric and Martine Pelegrin, at "Bistro Le Marseillais".

Friday, July 4, 2008

Save money on your groceries - and much more!

Every now and then I see a lens on Squidoo.com that compels me to promote it with all my might. However mighty my might might be. (Say that with a full mouth. Only one time - but fast!)

Well, before I take my mouth too full with silly chit-chat, let's go straight to the subject of "saving money". The problem is - I don't have any. Money. To save.

Here's where Squidoo lensmaster extraordinaire, mulberry, comes to the rescue. Her page "Saving Money" offers a huge number of easy-to-do tips on how to cut down on your expenses. She does it "with heart". She knows just how hard it is to muster a saving consciousness when every cent seems to be "already spent before it's earned". Yet, there are possibilities you might not have thought of, unique ways of pinching a few which when added up over a year's length may buy you a family vacation. Go, browse mulberry's page, and save!