Just Hanging Out (of a fourth floor window)

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Happy holiday weekend. Everyone leaves New York City, and for those of us who have to stay it’s party time! This particular morning I am skipping the gym and enjoying the break in the oppressive heat to plant my window boxes. I assembled the boxes and filled them with dirt earlier in the week – you can see that article here, too.

So, with a cup of coffee in one hand and Country Legends 97.1 streaming through my bluetooth, it’s time to get our hands dirty.

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Earlier in the week I went around town and sourced my plants. I ended up with the following:

  • Basil
  • Marjoram
  • Dill
  • Flat Leaf Parsely
  • Cilantro
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Thyme
  • French Lavender
  • Sweet Potato Vines
  • Geraniums (for color)

Different plants like varying degrees of moisture, and for that reason I grouped the more tuberous, leggy things together (the first six herbs) and the woodier herbs together (the next 5). I also dropped a sweet potato vine and a geranium in both boxes for color and aesthetics. Yes! geraniums are basic, but the petals are edible. I wanted marigolds – also edible and a natural insect repellent – but sometimes you use what you got.

plant6

plant7

Get those suckers in the dirt. Leave ample room around them, and encourage the ones that cascade to do so. Be sure and plant the vine near the edge. It will cascade spectacularly. To avoid transplant shock really give them a solid watering once they’re in the dirt. You will eventually need to spike the basil if you choose to plant that, but that’s down the road. Mint is very leggy and can get aggressive; you’ll want to harvest it whether you choose to use it or not. Give it to your mojito loving friends!

plant2

OOOWEE the Oak Ridge Boys are singing to me! Time to warm up for the show. Enjoy your beautiful boxes and start planning how you’re going to use your window box bounty! The Gentleman Caller will continue to share articles and ideas about how to creatively use your home-grown herbs.

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The Gentleman Caller signing out.

xoxo

The Gentleman Caller’s Butterscotch Oatmeal Scotchie

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Hey, it’s me, the Cookie Monster. I’m back to make yet another cookie. Quel surprise.

This one is a butter and vanilla explosion, holding together mounds of butterscotch chips and raisins soaked in booze. Add a whisper of cinnamon and what could possibly be better.

My favorite way to eat these is with ice cream, perhaps as a sandwich. Yum.

What you need:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup butter flavor Crisco
  • 1/2 cup white vanilla sugar*
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins, soaked in brandy**
  • 3/4 cup butterscotch chips

*vanilla sugar: put a vanilla bean or just the spent carcass of a vanilla bean into a pint jar full of white sugar. Allow to sit and let the sugar take on the magical vanilla flavor. Note: Tahitian is stronger than Madagascar.

**I soaked my raisins in 1/3 cup ginger flavored brandy. Perfection. Discard any liquid the raisins don’t soak up. Or see glaze recipe at the bottom.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the brandy and raisins in a jar or bowl, microwave for a minute. Allow to sit and let the raisins plump.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream the first 4 ingredients. Add vanilla and eggs.

In another bowl combine the dry ingredients. Add them to the creamed items until just combined.

Stir your plumped raisins and butterscotch chips into the mixture.

Scoop in 1/4 cups onto parchment paper, mash with a damp hand to flatten to 1/2 inch thickness. Place in pre-heated oven. Watch like a hawk. I do not know why, but these cook really fast. Like 7 1/2 minutes. So just check them regularly. My oven in NYC is kind of fakakta and though I test everything exactly, sometimes it outsmarts ol Austin.

Allow to cool. Chomp em down!

I hope you enjoy these; they’re kind of decadent. Of you wanted to take them one step further, combine a little maple syrup to the brandy you drained from the raisins. Add sifted powdered sugar until a glaze forms. Drizzle the glaze over top. Wait for the cavity cops to come.

Download the PDF here: The Gentleman Caller’s Oatmeal Scotchie

That’s all for now, kiddos.

xoxo,

The Gentleman Caller

 

Johnson City Tortilla Pie

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Imagine, if you will, that you are 11. That you are seat belted into a giant Buick LeSabre, next to your sisters. Imagine the Judds coming through the car speakers, and singing along in harmony with most of the people in the car. Imagine one of your sisters gets car sick. A lot. Imagine mom giving Dramamine to all of us, because there’s one kid who likes to get sick, but that shit will knock the other two of you out for awhile. Imagine your sleepy little feet landing in a pyrex casserole dish full of a beautifully executed King Ranch Chicken casserole in the floorboard. Welcome to my childhood.

The King Ranch is a big place in Texas. There is a casserole named after it. Enough about that.

MY family ranch, The Stanton Ranch, is in Johnson City, Texas. While nothing to sneeze at, in terms of acreage and acclaim it is no King Ranch. But that didn’t even enter our minds while we traversed its creeks and rivers in our inner tubes, fished, made the most of its ample venison and generally enjoyed being around our relatives.

And we all knew how to eat. Mom, Aunt Marcie and Granny would generally do a casserole or two ahead of time for ease and convenience while we were all up at the ranch, much preferring to spend time in the creek or playing cards than sweating over the stove.

For issues of freezability and portability, the casserole is a solid meal. In this version, I have taken the classic King Ranch Chicken casserole and made it palatable. Reduced are the cans of condensed soup, and more complex flavors take their place.

What you need:

  • 1 lb uncooked white meat chicken, cubed
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano + 1 tsp Mexican oregano (I use Bolner’s Fiesta Spices for this, it’s really the best)
  • 1 tbsp cumin + 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp lard (or olive oil or butter)
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 4 oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp masa harina or flour
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1 10.5 ounce can Cream of Mushroom condensed soup
  • 4 tsp chopped pickled jalapeños (optional)
  • 16 corn tortillas
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz shredded monterey jack cheese

In a saucepan, combine 2 cups chicken stock, 1/2 cup white wine, 1 tsp Mexican oregano, 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp chili powder and 1 pound of chicken. Bring to a gentle simmer and allow to stew for about a half hour. Remove from heat, allow to cool on its own.

Preheat oven to 375.

Melt 1 tbsp lard in a large saute pan. Add the chopped onion, sweat. Add the garlic and sliced mushrooms. Add 1 tsp Mexican oregano, 2 tsp cumin, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp white pepper.

Scatter 2 tbsp masa over the entire mixture. Stir and allow the raw flavor to be cooked off.

Shred the cooked chicken into the mixture and stir. Add the cooking liquid from the chicken plus an additional 1/4 cup white wine. Stir to bring the masa and liquids together.

Add the condensed soup and Rotel tomatoes. Add the chopped jalapeños (optional).

Spray a rectangular 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Cut 10 of the tortillas in half. Line the bottom of the casserole dish using the straight edges of the halved ones to make the perimeter, then covering the middle with two whole tortillas. Spread 1/3 of the chicken mixture over the tortillas. Repeat this process 3 times, so that there are three layers of tortilla alternating with 3 layers of chicken mixture.

Cover the top with the grated cheese.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

Full downloadable PDF here: Johnson City Tortilla Pie

This is a dream in the freezer. Cover tightly and shove her in for a rainy day.

Also, I slathered mine with The Gentleman Caller’s All-Purpose Chili Sauce #1 http://thegentlemancaller.net/the-gentleman-callers-all-purpose-chili-sauce-1/ and then topped with a sprig of micro cilantro that I sprouted earlier.

You are going to love this one, kiddos.

Keep coming back; I’ll keep giving you more.

xo-TGC

 

The Gentleman Caller’s Homemade Miracle Gro Liquid Fertilizer

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

It’s planting season. I don’t know about you, but if I am going to go to all the trouble of nurturing my little babies, I want them to grow, grow, grow!

Now there are countless options in the realm of commercial fertilizers, but! why not round up a few household items, AND some things you were going to compost or throw away and concoct your own?

This easy liquid fertilizer will deliver nutrients to your plant progeny and won’t break the bank.

What you need:

  • 1 gallon jug (I repurposed a well-cleaned washer fluid bottle. Free.)
  • 1 tbsp epsom salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ammonia
  • used coffee grounds
  • egg shells
  • water

Using a funnel, pour epsom salt, baking soda, and ammonia into your gallon jug.

Add used coffee grounds. You can continually add used coffee grounds day after day.

Add crunched up egg shells. You may continue to add egg shells as you cook the actual insides.

Put it in a cool dry place. Allow to steep. Give it a shake every day or so.

After about 2 – 3 weeks, it will be ready to start using. If you want to be fancy, you can strain the solids out. It’s not necessary, but it’s up to you.

Add the liquid fertilizer to the dirt around plants, not to the foliage of the plant itself.

Enjoy, and watch the fruit of your labor!