Uncommonly Good

One Potato, Two Potato…

I love a good baked potato. Typically I wash the potatoes, prick the skin with a fork, slather with olive oil, wrap in foil, put them in a 400° oven… and wait for an hour until they’re cooked through and tender.

But a recently I had a booth at a local flea market and a couple came up and asked if I had any potato bags. I thought they wanted cotton bags for storing potatoes, but she wanted a bag for cooking potatoes in the microwave. She described it and then I went home and made one.

This is a great way to brown bag your lunch. You can cook the potato at home and warm it in the microwave. Or if you don’t have to share the kitchen you can cook it fresh when you’re ready to eat.

Baked Potato Bag

Who knew this simple cotton envelope could make such fluffy creamy baked potatoes?

And then I baked a couple of potatoes in it.

Baked Potato Bag With Potatoes

Scrub the potatoes and wrap them in a paper towel.

Scrub the potatoes and while they’re still wet wrap them in a paper towel and put them in the bag. You can wet the paper towel if you want, but I didn’t and my potatoes turned out fine. BTW, don’t prick the skin when you cook them like this. You want the skin to seal in the moisture while it cooks.

Baked Potatoes are done

I was surprised at how wet the bag was after the potatoes were done.

I’m not sure how long it took. My microwave is REALLY old… It was my grandmother’s and I think my she got one of the originals. It’s a Sharp Carousel… it has a turntable (thus the Carousel in the name). The timer is an old-fashioned turn dial.  I’m not sure of the accuracy. Suggested cooking times range from 4–6 minutes, up to 10–15 minutes. It all depends on the size and number of the potatoes and the actual wattage of your microwave.

And just like foil-wrapped oven-baked potatoes, you can press on the potatoes see when they’re done. They’ll give a little when they’re tender inside.

A Microbaked Potato

Be careful! The steam that makes the potato moist can also escape and burn when you open the bag.

No knives allowed when you get ready to eat. Just stab it with your fork and twist to break it apart.

Baked Potato

Now, it's ready to dress.

Top it with whatever suits your fancy. My dressings start with butter. Then it depends on what’s in the fridge: cheese, any kind; chives; sour cream…

Baked Potato with all the trimmings

Traditional oven-baked potato with traditional toppings.

I might top it with chili, Sloppy Joe meat, tuna, or grilled chicken or steak. Or… maybe I’ll build a salad on top and drizzle the whole thing in salad dressing. Avocados and crumbled bacon is good on top.

That spare potato that’s still in the bag?  It went into the fridge and made the best potato salad I’ve ever made! Details on that coming soon!

I’ll be selling these at the next flea market June 10, 11 at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds here in Norman.  Instructions and recipes will be included.


May 25, 2011 Posted by | Brown Bag, Potatoes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Once de Guacamayo

Avocados are on my top ten list of favorite ingredients. I wanted to share this recipe last week on Cinco de Mayo (which, by the way, is not a celebration of Mexican independence) but I couldn’t find any good guacs at the last minute. So now, on the eleventh, I’m sharing this Once de Guacamayo recipe.

If you want to make guacamole and can’t figure it out on your own you’ll find recipes that call for 4 or 8 or 12 avocados, and piles of fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions and more. Unless you’re feeding a crowd it’s way more than you want to make and all that chopping and slicing and dicing is a lot of work for a simple snack.

So here’s my shortcut. Two ingredients. Avocado and salsa. Lime is the essential third ingredient and if I have some fresh cilantro anyone who eats it will swear I made it all from scratch.

Here’s how it goes. Cut an avocado in half by starting at the pointy end and sliding the knife all the way around.

Avocado, Onion, Serrano, and Jalapeno

Twist each half of the avocado in opposite directions to loosen it from the seed.

Twist the sides in opposite directions to pull it apart.

Split Avocado

This avocado is perfectly ripe and ready for anything.

Remove the pit by striking it with the blade of your knife. It will slice into the pit and stick. Twist the knife, still attached to the pit, and pull the pit out of the avocado.

Remove the Avocado Pit

Remove the avocado pIt by whacking into it with your knife. You can see I've already sliced and diced the avocado half on the left. It's ready to scoop into the bowl.

While the avocado is still in the skin, use the knife and slice it one direction and then the other. Make your slices few and far between for chunky guac, and close together in all directions for smushy guac.

Diced Avocado Ready for Guac

The diced avocado goes into the bowl first.

Use a spoon to scoop the avocado out of the skin and plop it in your mixing bowl.  I used a small plastic container that held blue cheese yesterday. (The blue cheese went into meatballs. That recipe will come soon.) It was a handy size for dipping and would be a handy size for leftovers.

Add Salsa to Avocadotg178

Add a couple of spoonfuls of salsa to the avocado.

Add your favorite salsa. If this is all you’re going to do, mix and taste. But if you’re adding more ingredients wait to mix it so it doesn’t totally turn to mush by the time you’re done.

It just takes a small amount of any optional ingredients to make a difference in the taste and the texture. You may need to add another avocado if you get too rambunctious. A little goes a long way when you’re starting with just one avocado.

Jalapenos and Serrano Peppers

Jalapeno and Serrano slices are ready to dice for the guacamole. The Serranos were green when I bought them, but continued to ripen and turn red.

  • Finely diced red onions
  • Finely diced peppers: Jalapenos and Serranos are frequent choices; red bells add color and crunch but no heat; habaneros add color and a LOT of heat.
  • Thinly sliced green onions, including the tops
  • Crushed garlic
  • Garden fresh diced tomatoes
  • Fresh cilantro sprigs
  • Salt and pepper if you must
Avocado soon to become guacamole

The avocado is disappearing under a growing pile of finely diced red onions, green onions, jalapenos, Serranos and salsa.

My essential optional extras are:

  • fresh lime juice
  • fresh cilantro

    Lime and Cilantro

    Avocado and options are ready to mix. Lime and cilantro are my essential finishers for any salsa or guacamole.

Gently fold the guacamole together and finish it off with the essential optional extras: a generous squeeze of lime juice and cilantro.


Guacamole mixed and ready for the finishing touches.

When you’re done you can transfer the guacamole from the mixing bowl to a festive serving bowl if you’re serving guests. Or you can just eat it. Which is what I did.

Guac and a Tray of Chips

Guacamole and a tray of chips.

PS – if you end up adding too much heat (like, how could that happen?!) you can add more diced tomatoes. You can also serve it with a plop of sour cream or plain yogurt top. Don’t mix it in, just dip into it as you need to. The dairy will dilute the heat without diluting the flavor.

If you have leftovers, transfer to a lidded storage container. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the guacamole and press out any air bubbles. Press the plastic wrap up the sides of the bowl and around the top edge before putting the lid on it. Put it in the fridge.

I’d planned to take a picture of the storage set up, but alas, there were no leftovers available for the demonstration.

Larrapin! Continue reading

May 11, 2011 Posted by | Appetizer | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Grandma’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

There were a couple of things we could always count on when we arrived at Grandma’s house in Key West. There was a Key Lime Pie in the freezer, and the cookie jar was full. Grandma made Oatmeal Raisin Cookies for dad, and she put chocolate chips in them for us kids.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Grandma's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think the original recipe came off the back of one of those round oatmeal boxes. I have a scribbled copy under a magnet on my fridge. It’s on a 3 x 5 card with a couple of sticky notes with modifications I’ve made in different batches.

Until today I always made them by hand, first combining the sugars with the shortening and then using a sturdy wooden spoon to work in the flour, oatmeal, chocolate chips and any nuts I added. Today, however, I used the fancy smancy second-hand Kitchen-Aid Mixmaster I got at an estate sale a couple of weeks ago. Paid $15 for it.

Cookie Dough

A small ice cream scoop is just the ticket for making cookies all the same size.

So here’s the scoop, so to speak.

Grandma’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 3/4 C shortening
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 C oatmeal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 C chopped pecans
  • 1 C chocolate chips or 3/4 C raisins
  1. Mix shortening and sugars until creamy.
  2. Add egg, water and vanilla. Mix well.
  3. Dump in flour, salt, soda. Mix well.
  4. Add cinnamon.
  5. Fold in oatmeal.
  6. Add chopped nuts and chocolate chips or raisins as desired.
  7. Bake at 350° 8–10 minutes. Cool on a rack.
Cookie dough goes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Cookie dough goes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Some of the alterations on the sticky notes attached to my recipe card include:

  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1 C mixed walnuts/pecans
  • 1/2 C wheat germ

Another note says: “used molasses with brown sugar ~made a softer cookie~ 1 C almonds” As I recall I was nearly out of brown sugar so I added molasses to make one cup.

Today I used cinnamon and nutmeg, 1/2 cup wheat germ, 1 cup crumbled slivered almonds, and 1/2 cup raw coconut.

Cookies ready to come out of the oven

Cookies ready to come out of the oven.

The cookies don’t spread much, and they don’t get very brown so keep an eye on the clock and pull them out within ten minutes. Leave them on the cookie sheet a few minutes. They’ll fall part if you try to move them while they’re still hot.

Broken Cookie

Let the cookies rest before moving them off the cookie sheet.

Sometimes you can push them back together and they’ll stick as they cool… or you can just eat the crumbs.

Cookies Cooling

Let cookies cool completely on a cooling rack.

After the cookies cool completely put them in an airtight cookie jar. They’ll last several weeks unless you eat them first. You can sprinkle the crumbs on top of ice cream for a crunchy topping.

This batch made exactly 4 dozen cookies.


May 8, 2011 Posted by | Cookies, Dessert | , , , | Leave a comment

May is Hamburger Month: Cheeseburger in Paradise

After spending the day snorkeling and scuba diving off Key West a Cheeseburger in Paradise at  Margaritaville Café was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Just like in the song the description included onion, lettuce, tomato, Kosher dill pickle, and French fries. It was almost 20 years ago, so the menu has likely been revised, but after a busy day on the water it was one tasty burger.

Here’s a recent review of a Key West Cheeseburger in Paradise. Very nice pix are included. I’ll post my own as soon as I build my own burger in a few days.

Here’s a recipe from Food Network that starts with grinding your own hamburger meat. I’ll make mine with 90% lean from the grocery store, but I will be making one of these as soon as I get some ground cow in the fridge. And I promise to post pictures.

BTW, I had another one of these in New Orleans and was not impressed. The burger was OK, but when I placed the order for a Cheeseburger in Paradise “just like in the song” I got twenty questions from the bartender who took my order.

“Do you want tomato and lettuce on that?”

“Uh, yeah.”


Again, “Yes.”

I mean, what part of “just like in the song” is so hard to understand?

May 1, 2011 Posted by | Sandwich | , | Leave a comment


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