• 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, grated
  • 2 cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon (about 5 pieces) or chopped ham
  • 1 cup swiss or gruyere cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and spinach, season with salt and pepper, and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Lightly beat eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add grated cheese and bacon to the eggs, mix and then add to the skillet.
  4. Stir the contents of the skillet to combine and then cook, undisturbed, until the the edges are set, about 2 minutes.
  5. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the top of the frittata is just set, about 10-13 minutes.

Applesauce Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package chocolate chips

Cream sugar and shortening in a medium mixing bowl. Add eggs and stir. Combine applesauce and soda in a liquid measuring cup and add to the mixing bowl. Add the dry ingredients and stir. Add the chocolate chips and mix to distribute.

Spoon onto baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 13 1/2 minutes.

Note: Some people (read: Vernon) prefer this with an equal quantity of raisins instead of chocolate chips.

Banana Bread

The best banana bread ever. The nuts are not optional. More sour cream is advised. Even an extra banana won’t hurt.

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon sour cream (or more)
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large crushed bananas
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup nuts, coarsely chopped
  1. Beat sugar and shortening together. Add eggs and sour cream and beat some more.
  2. Add baking soda, vanilla, salt and bananas and stir until mixed.
  3. Add flour and nuts and stir until mixed.
  4. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour in greased bread pans.

Makes two loaves.

Butterflake Rolls

Iconic Watson family Thanksgiving roll recipe.

Butterflake Rolls

  • 1 1/3 cup scalded milk, cooled to lukewarm
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast, dissolved in 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  1. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Mix eggs, sugar, and yeast. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and stir thoroughly.
  2. Cover and let rise 45 minutes.
  3. After 45 minutes, butter hands and a cutting board.
  4. Divide the dough in half. Pat one half of the dough into a rectangular shape on the cutting board to be about 6×12 inches.
  5. Fold over 1/3 and pat with butter. Fold over again. Repeat three times, using half the butter for each half of the dough.
  6. Cut the dough in strips, one inch wide and six inches long.
  7. Tie each strip into a knot and drop into a greased muffin tin.
  8. Cover and let rise 45 minutes.
  9. Bake at 375°F for 12 to 15 minutes.

Makes 24 rolls.

Roasted Vegetable Chili

This is a vegetarian riff on some of the same flavors that I used in my Damn Good Chili recipe. Only with less meat. The recipe also pulls in some inspiration from The Pioneer Woman’s Roasted Vegetable Minestrone. Between all the roasting of things and the fermentation (beer and soy), we get plenty of flavors to round it all out.

Roasted Vegetable Chili

  • Plant and Fungus
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 3 medium celery stalks
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2 medium yellow summer squash
  • 2 large sweet bell peppers (red and yellow)
  • 2 C. mushrooms
  • 1 6-oz. can roasted mild green chilies
  • 2 6-oz. cans tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 5 cans of beans, your choice (pinto, small red, kidney, garbanzo, small white & navy)
  • Liquid
  • 1/2 C. olive oil, divided
  • 2 12-oz. bottles beer (stout) (one for the chili, one for you)
  • 1/4 C. dark soy sauce
  • 4 C. water
  • Seasonings
  • 2 T. chili powder
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 2 T. cocoa powder
  • 1 T. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 t. black pepper

Set crock pot on high and add the beans. By the time the sauce is ready, it will be getting warmed up.

Set oven to broil with one rack high and one rack low. Wash and cut open the bell peppers. Cut them into slabs that will lay flat on a baking sheet, skin side up. Chop the mushrooms coarse, toss in olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread mushrooms on another baking sheet. Place the peppers sheet directly under the broiling element and the mushrooms lower. Broil until the pepper skins are blackened, 3-5 minutes. The mushrooms will not take much longer, if the oven was already hot; they are done when they are tough and chewy, but not burnt.

While the peppers and mushrooms are roasting, coarsely chop the zucchini and summer squash into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on two baking sheets. Roast at 425°F for 10-15 minutes, stirring once; they are done when they are browning, not quite blackened; some will be toasty crunchy.

(I used dual ovens, which made the roasting go so much faster, one on broil for the peppers and mushrooms, and one at 425°F on convection for the summer squash/zucchini)

Heat a deep saute pan over medium heat and add the remaining 3-4 T. olive oil. Remove skin from garlic. Peel and chop carrots. Wash and chop celery. Peel and chop onion. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, and onion to a food processor and mince fine. Add the vegetable puree to the olive oil and saute until carrots start to caramelize, about 10-15 minutes. Remove mixture from pan and add to the pile of roasted vegetables from the oven.

Smear the pan with the two cans of tomato paste and cook until it starts to brown and stick to the pan. Add the bottle of beer to deglaze. Add the crushed tomatoes, green chili peppers, soy sauce, water, and seasonings. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the roasted vegetables and the sauce to the beans in the crock pot. Continue to cook in the crock pot for another two hours. Finish seasoning to your taste, adding more salt, hot sauce, etc.

Steamed Whole Fish

Steamed Whole Fish

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

  • 1 large minced garlic clove
  • 1/8 t. sugar
  • 4-5 thin slices fresh ginger
  • 1 c. sliced celery
  • 1/4 c. chopped green onions
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • 1 T. rice wine
  • 2 T. dark soy sauce
  • 1 2-lb. whole fish (mackeral, trout, bass, etc.)
  1. Clean fish, remove scales, rinse, and pat dry.
  2. Combine all other ingredients in a bowl
  3. Place fish in a shallow baking dish and gently make 3 or 4 slices along the sides of the fish parallel to the bones.
  4. Spoon the vegetable sauce over and inside the fish.
  5. Place some inverted custard cups or a small grate in the bottom of a wok.
  6. Add very hot water to the wok, careful not to add it to the shallow baking dish, filling to about one inch deep.
  7. Cover the wok and bring water to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium and steam for 25 minutes or until fish is tender.
  8. Remove from heat and serve immediately with rice and vegetables.

Tips and notes

  • If you don’t have a wok, a turkey roasting pan with a cookie sheet for a lid works great.
  • Instead of custard cups, small cans (like tuna or other short cans) with both ends removed works well. You just want the baking dish to sit right above the water so it gets the heat of the steam all around.

Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Bars

Bars Frosting

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 2/3 C. sugar
  • 1 C. vegetable oil
  • 2 C. (16 oz.) pumpkin
  • 2 C. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 C. soft butter or margarine
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 1/2 C. powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Cream eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin. Beat until fluffy.
  3. Stir in dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Spread in an ungreased jelly roll pan.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick in center comes out clean.
  6. When cooled, make the frosting as follows.
  7. Mix cream cheese and butter.
  8. Stir in vanilla.
  9. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time.
  10. Beat well and frost.

Note: I like to have this as a birthday cake. To do this, we bake it as instructed in a jelly roll pan and then cut that in half to make two smaller rectangles. Then we make a two-layer cake out of it with frosting in the middle and all around. So yummy.

Damn Good Chili

Good chili starts with strong flavors. This chili has plenty of that. We let fermentation (beer, whiskey, and soy) do its thing for us to give flavors that fresh food just doesn’t have. This makes a lot of chili, so it’s a good thing it tastes so good.

Damn Good Chili

  • Meats
  • 2 lb. beef (brisket, chuck, etc.)
  • 2 lb. ground beef chuck
  • 1 lb. boneless pork ribs (shoulder)
  • 48 oz. beef broth
  • Plant and Fungus
  • 2 C. mushrooms
  • 2 large red onions
  • 2 large green bell peppers
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 6-oz. cans tomato paste
  • 2 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cans of beans, your choice (black, small white & small red)
  • Deglazes
  • 1-2 bottles beer
  • 1/2 C. whiskey
  • 1/4 C. soy sauce
  • Seasonings
  • 1/4 C. chili powder
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 2 T. cocoa powder
  • 1 t. coriander
  • 1 T. salt
  • 1/2 t. black pepper

Set crock pot on high (or a large stock pot) and add the beef broth. Add the crushed tomatoes and beans.

Cube the beef and pork into bite-sized pieces, removing and reserving the large chunks of fat. Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium high and sear the beef and pork cubes about 8oz at a time. Do not be tempted to put too much meat in the pan or the pan will cool and the meat will boil in its own juices instead of browning on the outside. Put the cooked meat into the broth as it finishes. Between sets of meat, if the pan has stuff stuck to the bottom, use some of the beer, or whiskey and soy to deglaze the pan, pouring the sauce into the pot with the meat and broth. When the cubed meat is done, cook the ground chuck on high, one pound at a time. Add the chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder and coriander.

Mince the mushrooms and jalapenos, dice the onions and green peppers. Fry the onions until clear, about 1 minute and add to the pot. Fry the peppers until bright, about 1 minute and add to the pot. Cook the mushrooms until most of the moisture has evaporated and reduced in size; add to the pot.

Add 1 T. oil to the frying pan and reheat. Add the tomato paste, allowing it to carmelize on the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato paste to the pot and deglaze the pan with any remaining beer, whiskey or soy sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste (~ 1 T. salt and 1/2 .t pepper).

Add sufficient beef broth, beer, water or apple cider to make the chili a bit runny. Cook at a low boil until meat is tender and the chili is thickened, about 4 hours.


  • Make your own beef broth. Throw 1 lb. ox tail, a gallon of water, a diced onion, salt and a teaspoon of peppercorns in the crockpot and let it simmer overnight. Super simple and so delicious. Pick the meat out and add it to the chili. Strain the broth and try not to drink it all.
  • You can probably use any cut of beef and pork here. You will be cooking them long enough that they will get tender. Brisket is pretty flavorful, so I used that. But it is not the cheapest cut of beef at the store.
  • Add more jalapenos as needed for heat. Or consider adding minced chipotle for a different chili profile.
  • I have heard that unfiltered apple cider works well in the place of beer. I used a dark stout that doesn’t smell or taste anything like apple cider, so I don’t know how true this is…. But my chili doesn’t taste like the beer either, so maybe it is just all the other strong flavors mixing too.

Raspberry Sorbet

Last summer we bought a bunch of raspberries with the intention to make a bunch of jam. But we really got too much. So after freezing 24 pints of jam, I just juiced the rest of the raspberries and ended up with about 8 cups of juice. Into the freezer!

Now it is time to make some raspberry sorbet. I looked around online for some recipes and found that they were very similar: juice, water, sugar, and maybe lemon or lime. One recipe caught my attention because it involved invert sugar. I was hooked. But the ratios the recipe called for were way off, even at first glance. I looked up the molecular weights of sucrose and water and found that the ratio of sugar to water needed ONLY for the chemical reaction is about 95:5. Thinking that would probably end up as a solid brick of sugar once it cooled, I decided to add a little bit more water for a ratio more like 80:20. This turned out great.

Raspberry Sorbet

  • 4 C. raspberry juice
  • 2 C. sugar
  • 1/2 C. water
  • 500mg ascorbic acid (a crushed vitamin C tablet)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 T. lime juice
  1. Raspberry juice comes from raspberries, not from a can. Press the raspberries through a strainer, squeezing out the juice, discarding seeds and thick pulp.
  2. In a one-quart pan, bring the sugar, ascorbic acid, and water to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Using a candy thermometer, monitor the syrup, bringing the temperature up to 114°C/237°F/low soft ball stage. Remove from heat.
  4. Pour syrup into a heat-proof dish.
  5. Temper the syrup with about 1 C. raspberry juice by slowly pouring the juice into the syrup while stirring constantly.
  6. Add the syrup mixture back into the rest of the raspberry juice.
  7. Add salt, and lime, mixing thoroughly. Test for flavor.
  8. Cover the mixture and put it in the fridge until completely cooled.
  9. Chill using ice-cream maker until soft-serve consistency, according to manufacturer instructions.
  10. Put the sorbet in the freezer until frozen.
  11. Enjoy!

Reverse a Binary Stream Using Busybox

Today I had the need to reverse a binary stream using only bash and commonly-available command-line utilities. Not tac, sed, or rev, which are all line-oriented utilities that work best on ASCII data. I needed something that I could trust with binary data. This is what I came up with. Feel free to point out my weakness.

The first round was this:

reverse() {
local i=0
cat | xxd -c 1 | awk '{print $2}' | tac |
while read F; do
printf "%06x: %sn" $i $F; i=$((i+1))
done | xxd -c 1 -r

I wasn’t a huge fan of the while loop to prefix the lines with addresses for ‘xxd -r’. The streams that I am using this for are only several kB max, so efficiency was not my first goal, but why not try to make it faster if you have the option? Some reading reveals that ‘tac’ is not available on every Unix platform. And ‘xxd’ is only available if you have vim installed. I swapped in ‘hexdump’ for ‘xxd’, but hexdump does not have a reverse, so I had to find a way to do that. This is where awk comes into play, doing and integer to character conversion for each line. This happens to run in about 6 times faster than the original version and uses stuff that even busybox has.

My final version was this:

reverse() {
cat | hexdump -v -e '/1 "%dn"' |
sed -e '1!G;h;$!d' |
awk '{printf "%c", $0}'

You might use it like this:

$ reverse file.reversed
# or
$ command -in -a | pipeline | reverse | process | reverse > some_output