Tempest of Taste

In the end, we were lucky; we didn’t lose power.But two weeks ago it was a distinct possibility.  It only takes a little ice on the wrong line or tree limb and we would’ve been in the dark and the cold.

So, last Friday, we went by Harris Teeter to pick up a few items that might keep us from starvation and the ensuing cannibalism should we lose electricity.

And of course, the store was a study in madness.We got some chips and then headed to the deli counter.  Petey chose ham, I picked corned beef, and in case The Kid came over, I bought some roast beef.

So, we went home with enough supplies to keep us alive even if we were eating in the dark.

Like I said, the electricity stayed on.  And, The Kid never came over.

But there was no way that I was going to waste expensive lunch meat.  So, Saturday night, even though it was literally freezing cold, we had sandwiches.  Sunday we had hot food, but Monday we ate more sandwiches because we had more meat, and the roast beef needed to be eaten.

About thirty years ago or so, Petey and I rented a cottage in Nags Head.This was before I had interest or skill in cooking, so we bought copious amounts of sandwich ingredients.  One of them was roast beef.  And there on the outer banks, I invented a new sandwich.

I spread a very, very thick layer of mayo on one side.  On the other side I put about an inch and a half of cream cheese.  I then added a healthy stack of roast beef, a couple slices of ripe summer tomatoes and plenty of crispy bacon.

When years later I ordered it from a sandwich shop, the nice lady who made it said it was one weirdo of a sandwich.  The name stuck, and my creation became “The Weirdo”.marmalade-mayoOn that frozen Monday I planned on a simple roast beef and horseradish mayo on sourdough.  But when I opened the fridge to retrieve the mayonnaise, I spied some homemade onion marmalade.  Into the mayo it went.  I also seasoned it with some coffee salt I had just made (the recipe’s in Salting the Salt Away Daily Dispatch-7/6/2016).

It was at this point I made the decision to make for myself a new version of a  Wierdo.

But I was three decades older, and fifty pounds lighter.  I wanted the flavors, but in a package that wasn’t so cardiac-crushingly rich, heavy, and caloric.

On one slice of bread I spread the horseradish mayo.  But instead of half a pound of full fat cream cheese, I’d make a lighter spread.

Smoked sun-dried tomato cream cheesesmoked-sun-dried-cr-cheese

½ cup whipped light cream cheese

2-3 tablespoons sundried tomatoes in oil, rinsed, patted dry, and diced

5 or 6 drops liquid smoke

Pinch of thyme

Salt and pepper

Throw everything except salt & pepper into a small food chopper and mix until it’s fully mixed and a pale orange in color.  Taste and season.

Makes enough for 2 or 3 sandwiches.

To this updated sandwich I added shaved red onion to counterbalance the sweet caramelized onion and a handful of pea shoots for crispy freshness.

You can use my cream cheese spread on all kinds of food—I think it would be earth shaking on a burger or a BLT.

But if you like the occasional roast beef sandwich, I hope you’ll try my Weirdo 2.0.Thanks for your time.

The late-ish Debbie Matthews

I always used to be on time.  Always.

Then I met Petey.  That boy will be late to his own funeral.

So the fact that I’m talking about corned beef and cabbage, 3 ½ weeks after Saint Patrick’s Day is apt.

But you know what?

Any time is the right time for corned beef, because it is heavenly, meaty ambrosia.  Whether eaten hot, with a plate full of butter-drenched veg, or heaped between some rye, corned beef is mouthwateringly delicious.

Recently I made it for the first time.

This wasn’t by choice.  If I’d had my way, I’d make it all the time.  But Petey absolutely loathes it.  And, until recently, so did The Kid.

My child and I share a love of Reubens.  But traditional corned beef and cabbage was only enjoyed by me, and I couldn’t justify cooking an entire brisket for one.  Joyously, The Kid has lately had a change of heart.

But Buddy-Roe, we can put away Reubens like Reuben-eating rock stars..

Profoundly non-kosher Reubens


4 slices seeded rye

½ pound thinly sliced corned beef

½ cup sauerkraut

4 slices Swiss cheese


Thousand Island dressing

Lay out bread.  Spread mayo to taste on 2 slices, and Thousand Island on the other two.  Lay one piece of cheese on each slice of bread.  Top half the rye with corned beef and sauerkraut. 


Spread very thin layer of mayo on the outside of sandwiches.  Cook in skillet on medium-low until hot and melty.

But to make this delicious dish, you need some corned beef.  Most of the time I pick it up from a deli.  But now I can make corned beef with veggies, and put together a Reuben with homemade leftovers.

Corned beef and cabbage

corned beef

2 pound corned beef brisket with spice packet (or 2 tablespoons pickling spice)

1 large yellow onion

2 tablespoons butter

4 bay leaves

3 cups dark beer, divided

2 heaping tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Salt and pepper


8-10 medium red skinned potatoes, washed and cut into 4 pieces

1 head of cabbage, cored and cut into 8 pieces

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces, or left whole if they’re small

6 tablespoons butter melted mixed with 2 tablespoons each chopped fresh parsley and chives

Preheat oven to 250.  Place Dutch oven on stove-top and set to medium.  Melt butter in pot.  Slice onions into half-moons.  Add to pot with bay leaves, spice, salt and pepper.  Cook on medium-low until onions are golden.  Turn heat up to medium-high and stir in mustard.

Pour in ½ cup beer.  Scrape up any bits clinging to pot bottom.  Add maple syrup and cook until almost dry.  Add rest of the beer.  Place in brisket, fat side up.  Add enough water to barely cover meat.  Insert probe thermometer set to 210.  Cover and place in oven.

When brisket gets to 195 degrees, put potatoes into separate pot with salted water to cover.  Add enough corned beef cooking liquid to cover by 1-2 inches.  Cook on medium.  After 10 minutes add carrots and cabbage.  Cook until all veggies are tender.  Drain and pour parsley-chive butter over.

When corned beef hits 210, remove from oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Carve thinly against the grain.

Serves 6.

Normally I’d recommend serving this with salad.  But when it comes to this meal, I have no shame.  I can eat my weight in corned beef.  When this is on the menu, I don’t want to clutter up my belly with anything else.

Thanks for your time.