Chef Geoff

Slow Food; Slow Burn

There has been a good deal of discussion recently about our general state of fitness, with a particular emphasis on the fitness and diet of our children. As I mount my soapbox, let me first say I agree that there is a huge, nay, obese need to examine the manner of our food consumption. That would be Diet, with a capital “D”, as in what we eat, as opposed to trying to lose weight. With that being said, I’m having a difficult time, as a professed foodie, understanding the measures advocated to resolve the issue.

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Volume 6, Issue 6, Posted 8:17 AM, 03.24.2010

If The Nest Is Empty, Then Why All The Eggs?

We hear a good deal about the so-called “empty nest syndrome.” It is a time when our children are spreading their wings into adulthood. A time when the dinner table becomes less populated and the young adults who we have seen on a daily basis, mentored and disciplined, cajoled and congratulated, are now only sometime visitors.

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Volume 6, Issue 5, Posted 8:25 AM, 03.10.2010

Ranger Cafe Hits All The Right Notes

Due to a prolonged episode of writer’s block I have been for too long absent from the pages of the Lakewood Observer, but recent changes and additions to the Lakewood restaurant scene have fueled my culinary muse and ideas have been illuminated which virtually scream out for discussion and attention. So hoping that the readers forgive the absence, I will once again mount my soap box to talk about things gastronomic. There will be other times to discuss changes in the Lakewood food scene, but today I’d like to focus on the innovations that the West Shore Career-Tech Culinary Arts program at Lakewood High School has come forth with by way of the Ranger Café @ West Shore. Any quality vocational culinary program has attached to it a restaurant of some sort. For those wishing to become involved in the food service business, while learning technique may be of tremendous importance, there is nothing that can substitute than having to run a restaurant.  Presumably that is what those studying in the culinary arts will eventually be doing and the best way to learn is to do. That is the underlying premise behind the Ranger Café @ West Shore where juniors and seniors from the West Shore Technical district made up of Lakewood, Westlake and Rocky River High School Juniors and Seniors not only study cooking techniques and restaurant management, but also are now at least on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s running a full blown restaurant with a state-of-the-art kitchen.

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Volume 6, Issue 3, Posted 10:25 AM, 02.10.2010

Dining Behind Enemy Lines

Cleveland has long been thought of as a sports town -- not because of the multitude of championships over the past decades (let’s not forget the Crunch), but rather an allegiance of the fan base to the various franchises: Browns, Indians and Cavaliers. We’ve now had yet another Super Bowl in which the Browns were not participants. Another occasion for warm beers and cold pizza. Another occasion for, “Wait till next year.” One more year where I have to forego writing with recipes for a Browns Super Bowl party.

For a good many years, I counted myself among those rabid followers of the Cleveland Browns and reminisce fondly about the frost-bite suffered during the double overtime victory over the Jets in below zero temperatures. While in recent years my physical attendance to watch games has given way to more comfortable climes for the same purpose, I nevertheless feel compelled to exercise that Sunday ritual. It was a ritual that I believed should be passed on to my children and in an endeavor to do so, when the Brown’s were reborn from the ashes of mediocrity in 1999, along with my PSL, I also obtained Dawg Pound seats.

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Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 6:24 AM, 02.28.2009

Make Mine (A) Manhattan by Jeff Endress

MAKE MINE (A) MANHATTAN In much the same way that our menus have seasonal variations, turning from dogs and burgers in the summer to stews and soups in the winter, so too do the libations which we tend to enjoy.  While a cold beer goes equally well with football or baseball, somehow a frozen margarita by the fireplace just doesn’t seem to fit as well as it does when consumed pool-side. The cold winter months seem to require beverages with more substance and less paper parasols as the heady red wines, bourbons, and scotches take the place of fruity chardonnays, gins and tonic, and daiquiris. Part of that change is the result, no doubt, of pairing the beverage with the change in cuisine.  As we turn to heartier fare, wine and spirit pairings must also turn heartier, as Zinfandels make way for Merlots, and more complex white Burgundies replace fruity California Chardonnays.  So it is too with cocktails, where the warmth of a brandy is more appreciated after shoveling snow then a pina colada.  Within the category of heady drinks are two timeless classics:  the Martini and the Manhattan.  Now, to a purist the popularity of martini menus and a vast array of drinks which purport to be martinis is somewhat offensive.  A martini, in its truest sense, contains only three elements:  gin and dry vermouth and an olive garnish -- simplicity in a tall-stemmed glass, stirred and not shaken.  In recent times, all manner of “Martinis” have become the vogue, from apple to chocolate.  The only common denominator seems to be a requirement that all elements be spirituous.  

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Volume 5, Issue 3, Posted 9:15 PM, 02.10.2009

Politics in the Grinder

Otto von Bismarck wisely noted that “laws are like sausages, it is better not to see either of them being made”. The obvious extension of that axiom would apply to watching the political process which serves, after all, to provide us with those who make our laws. Over the past days (which have stretched into weeks and months and seemingly years), we have, whether we like it or not, gotten to observe the down and dirty slop which passes for the making of politicians these days in the United States. These TV advertisers and debaters will be those making the laws affecting us, come January. Where is Upton Sinclair when you need him?
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Volume 4, Issue 21, Posted 9:57 AM, 10.03.2008

Faux Atmosphere

Every eating or drinking establishment, if successful, attempts to emanate an atmosphere that attracts the targeted clientele. For the carriage trade, there is a certain elegance, starched tablecloths, maybe even uniformed wait staff. The corner bar puts forth a friendly dark clubiness, maybe a neon or two, a dartboard, and the glow of a ball game on a corner TV. There are those who attempt to replicate pubs found elsewhere, often with excellent results. Then there are the franchise chains, with their variety of garage sale treasures that generally have nothing to do with either the establishment or its locale, but seek to give a certain homey clutter to what is an otherwise sterile corporate façade...

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Volume 4, Issue 6, Posted 9:13 AM, 02.27.2008

Big Apple, Small Grocery

Sometimes, the things that I write come back, full circle. So it was after having penned a peice last spring, after a long weekend in the Big Apple. I had written a column that focused on my perception of an absence of grocery shopping opportunities in Manhattan. My focus was the absence of my normal trip to Heinen’s on Saturday morning and the lack of a “supermarket” presence that had led me to an entirely mistaken conclusion about food procurement...
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Volume 4, Issue 5, Posted 12:21 PM, 02.26.2008

Frozen Waste Land

The other day, as I was searching through my deep freeze for a package of ground beef, which I was certain still resided there, it occurred to me that it was past time for the annual winter cleaning. Many readers who have larger families take advantage of a secondary deep freeze...
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Volume 4, Issue 4, Posted 10:57 AM, 01.18.2008

Supermarket Snobs

While initially, readers of this column may think that I have lost my mind in confusing my normal culinary ramblings with candidates, caucuses, and political primaries, please bear with me. Sometimes the genesis of a discussion on food is not where one would expect...
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Volume 4, Issue 2, Posted 11:32 AM, 01.17.2008

Doggone Good

When we think of comfort foods, the one “all-American” dish that comes to mind is meatloaf. Every blue plate special in any small-town diner features meatloaf, gravy and mashed potatoes (and more times than not, canned green beans)...
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Volume 4, Issue 1, Posted 4:24 PM, 01.02.2008

The Holidaze: Is that All?

I heard recently that the average American gains seven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years. I was flabbergasted...
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Volume 3, Issue 25, Posted 8:05 AM, 12.04.2007

Untraditional Tradition

We now find ourselves in the midst of the season which is filled more, perhaps, than any other with family traditions. While, as I write this column, I am still anticipating the feast preparation, as you read this, Thanksgiving is a fond memory, as we finish off the last of the leftovers...
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Volume 3, Issue 24, Posted 1:29 PM, 11.20.2007

The Garden Production Review

Those readers who have followed this column know that, in the spring, I initiated an experiment turning half of my office backyard into an organic garden.
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Volume 3, Issue 22, Posted 4:16 PM, 10.19.2007

Destination Dining

To whatever degree these food columns have talked about restaurants, they generally have focused on reviewing local restaurants. There is no doubt about it - Lakewood has some very good restaurants, which run the gamut from bar burger joints and family friendly kids' menus to carriage trade white table cloths. As much as I love Lakewood and as much as I love the dining possibilities in Lakewood, sometimes, there is a requirement or a desire to travel. When wanderlust hits, it’s time for a culinary field trip.
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Volume 3, Issue 21, Posted 11:47 AM, 10.07.2007

The Great American Pastime

If the title of this article suggests to you that this will be a discussion of Baseball, you are badly mistaken. Beyond the mere similarity of being played on a field, soccer has little in common with what I used to think was America’s pastime. Over the past decade or so, the rampant invasiveness of European football has taken over my family’s life, like Kudzu creeping over an abandoned outhouse. Believe it or not, soccer is now America’s pastime.
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Volume 3, Issue 19, Posted 2:01 PM, 09.01.2007

Critter Crashes Corn Crop

While I will leave for a future issue the economic analysis of my vegetable garden, suffice it to say that I am currently up to my elbows in Roma tomatoes and the freezer is filling with containers of tomato puree. The tomatoes, indeed, have been incredibly productive, but as I planned out the garden, it wasn’t really the tomatoes that I was seeking. In planning the plot and loading up on “butter and salt” sweet corn, I was looking forward to an endless supply of freshly plucked corn to be plunged moments later into boiling water and drizzled with melted sweet butter, then served up with tomatoes sliced with basil and mozzarella and drenched in balsamic. Little did I anticipate that others shared my thoughts.
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Volume 3, Issue 18, Posted 7:48 PM, 08.22.2007

Feasting In The Great Outdoors

There is something to be said of getting away from your everyday existence; something to be said of taking a vacation from the daily grind. I’ve always enjoyed the prospect of being removed from the everyday trappings of society as we know it. No phone, no internet, no electricity. In Communicado for a week. And so it was, for an all too brief period, I once again found myself driving northward, past Toronto, past Barrie, beyond Parry, to an access point to the French River, just off highway 69. Claude’s French River trading post is more a marina that services the scores of sportsmen that fish the French. Doubtless that the trading posts in “Last of the Mohicans” didn’t sell or service Evinrude outboards. It is a journey I’ve made a number of times before, one that holds the promise of quiet, good company, exploration and great food.
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Volume 3, Issue 17, Posted 2:16 PM, 07.29.2007

The Herbal Harvest: a Thymely Discussion

It is August. The garden has been yielding its bounty. The greens have been a part of the menu for a three (or more) months, the broccoli, squash and cucumbers came forth last month and are now being joined by the eggplants, peppers and tomatoes. There is nothing as enjoyable as savoring the fresh flavors of just-picked, garden-ripened vegetables.
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Volume 3, Issue 16, Posted 12:25 PM, 07.29.2007

Going around in Circles

We are clearly at the height of barbeque season. If anyone has any doubts, all it takes a walk down the streets of Lakewood which will most certainly feature the aroma of charcoal, in addition to other things. In previous columns, I have touched upon grilling, smoking, and certain variations of my favorite outdoor cooking pastime. There are so many possibilities it can positively make your head spin. While your head is spinning, why not take that as a sign and look into what can be accomplished when your meal is also spinning. I am, of course, talking about rotisserie.
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Volume 3, Issue 15, Posted 1:20 PM, 07.14.2007

Chef Geoff Buys the Farm

There is a clear and obvious relationship between summer gardens and the food that finds its way to our dinner table. The nexus, while clear, is many times overlooked and undervalued. Little, if any, attention is paid to the obvious dietary and financial benefits of food we produce ourselves. These products are fresher and, many times, avoid the chemical additives present in industrial farms. In addition, buying locally or growing your own eliminates the storage and transportation costs involved in buying fresh items from halfway around the world.
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Volume 3, Issue 14, Posted 4:23 PM, 06.29.2007

An EGG-cellent Dish

We have all heard the egg council’s refrain of “the incredible edible egg.” Indeed, the egg is an interesting food item. In addition to the standard fried, scrambled, and hard-boiled preparations, this culinary staple can provide other unique cooking opportunities.
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Volume 3, Issue 13, Posted 5:58 PM, 06.19.2007

Catering to Your Every Need

It seems that with the coming of the summer season there is a huge increase in events for which one may consider the services of a caterer. Graduations, weddings, confirmations and the parties celebrating these social events can severely tax a normal household kitchen. It is always important for such special events the food be commensurate with the celebration, a special time requires special food and drink. It is at times like these that the hosts of these parties may look to the services of a caterer. The many facets of catering services go beyond food preparation; they can also include every aspect required to make the event a success, from table and chair rental to linens, glassware and servers. Opting to work with a caterer has the added benefit of allowing the host to actually enjoy the event without having to rush off to the kitchen to check on the tray of lasagna or scurry to the local mini mart to obtain more ice.
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Volume 3, Issue 12, Posted 11:23 AM, 06.01.2007

Service with a Smile?

Dining out can and should be a relaxing experience. Beyond the standard drive-ins, the experience of dining out is intended to allow for dinner conversation while the concerns of preparation and service are left to others who, presumably, are trained to properly perform those tasks.
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Volume 3, Issue 11, Posted 3:44 PM, 05.21.2007

Back to Basics

In this column, I will mount my soapbox to pontificate upon an issue which seems to grow larger day by day. I know that many readers would much rather read a lighter, spirited piece, perhaps a discussion of spring veggies or an ode to my Weber. But, unfortunately, I think that we all have to come to the sad realization that there are new and increasing dangers to the security and safety of our food supply, most of which are caused by our own eating and buying habits. These are serious issues that must be addressed before we can talk about those veggies and grills.
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Volume 3, Issue 10, Posted 2:28 PM, 05.08.2007

Counter-Intuitive Mathematics: A Redux

In my previous column (from the April 17th edition), I discussed the irony of addition through subtraction. Specifically, I explored the “micro” perspective of how we can experience an increase in flavor through the subtraction of volume in a specific recipe or culinary technique. This column, however, will analyze the “macro” side of that equation. Can we increase our overall gastronomic enjoyment by the removal of elements from our diet and, if so, how do we accomplish this bit of ironic math?
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Volume 3, Issue 9, Posted 8:23 AM, 04.23.2007

Mushrooms and Counterintuitive Mathematics

Addition by subtraction. These are mutually exclusive terms, yet it is a statement that we hear frequently, generally in relation to a fall Cleveland sports team that finds it necessary to release non-productive players. Taken literally, this contradiction defies logic. How can we increase something by subtracting from it? But, we also know that sometimes the removal of an element increases the value of that which remains. In the sports arena, the removal of a disgruntled and disruptive player may reduce the number of personnel on the roster, but may well increase the harmony and performance of the team as a whole. There has, thus, been an increase in quality by virtue of a decrease in quantity.
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Volume 3, Issue 8, Posted 12:14 PM, 04.06.2007

Fire-Roasted Vegetables: A "New" Gourmet Food

There are times that we experience a “new” food or “new” technique for the first time, but, in reality, we have probably already eaten it without recognizing it as a “new” or gourmet food product. One such trend is “fire-roasted” vegetables and we see it everywhere from gourmet restaurants to the specialty aisle of the grocery store. Roasted garlic, tomatoes, and peppers are now found virtually everywhere. When roasted, garlic becomes sweeter with nut-like overtones. Peppers mellow and, in the process of roasting, lose the skin that can sometimes cause bitterness. Tomatoes lose some of their acidity, but gain a slight element of smokiness. But, while fire-roasted vegetables may seem as if they are on the cutting edge of culinary developments, that is far from reality. It’s likely that you’ve been enjoying those fire-roasted vegetables with no thought, perhaps for many years. What seems “new” is really something your palate already knew.
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Volume 3, Issue 7, Posted 8:37 PM, 03.26.2007

Chef Geoff's Vegetarian Escapade

I must preface this column with a strong disclaimer: I have always enjoyed eating meat. In my mind, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a thick, juicy medium-rare steak, sizzling hot off the grill. With that in mind, I’d like to talk about a little experiment that I’m about to perform on myself (and, to some degree, on my family).
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Volume 3, Issue 6, Posted 2:48 PM, 03.11.2007

Brunch: Part Breakfast, Part Lunch

Brunching has become an increasingly popular weekend pastime. The word “brunch” owes its etymology to the combination of the words breakfast and lunch. As an amalgamation of the two, the meal is served at a time that one would expect either a late breakfast or an early lunch. There need not be a particular reason to opt for this combo meal except, perhaps, a taste for Mimosas or as an occasion to serve as the precursor to a football game or other entertainment event. But, I would suggest that, especially now, without weekend activities, football games, and other sporting events to fight cabin fever, there is nothing better than to gather friends and family for an early afternoon brunch.
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Volume 3, Issue 5, Posted 9:09 PM, 07.17.06

Grocery Shopping: Missing the Weekly Chore

It has been a long-standing tradition among our camping group to go deep snow camping in the middle of winter - no tents, huge fires, sufficient libations, and long hikes through deep snow in the silence of winter. Don’t ask for explanations; if I have to explain, you can’t possibly understand. But, this year, age and reason got the better of us. Our annual winter camping excursion would be different. Oh, most certainly, there would be long hikes and sufficient libations, but no fires or deep silences…our weekend would be in Manhattan.
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Volume 3, Issue 4, Posted 12:12 AM, 02.10.07

Cooking Up a Little Romance

While everyone is certainly welcome to read the column which follows, this missive is directed more towards my male readers. More specifically, it is written for those male readers who hesitate to venture into the kitchen - those individuals who believe food preparation to involve only pouring milk over cereal, or “nuking” a hot pocket. If you fit into this category, there is an opportunity at hand; an opportunity which, if handled properly, could pay significant dividends. I am, of course, speaking of Valentine’s Day - a day of flowers, cards, and candy. A day to remember the love of your life with something a little special. And, what could be nicer than a romantic evening out to that special restaurant with a cozy table for two and no dishes? Not to throw a wet blanket on your plans, but let’s give it some thought.
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Volume 3, Issue 3, Posted 7:07 PM, 01.26.07

Chutsa: Neither Salsa nor Chutney

There has been an ongoing discussion on the Lakewood Observer Observation Deck about how (or if) chutney differs from salsa and how both differ from the generic relish. A determination of where chutney ends and salsa begins and how both relate to relish is not of monumental importance. If you happen to like the taste of any product, it really doesn’t matter how it’s classified - just spoon it out and enjoy! What makes this quandary a trifle more interesting is how the demarcations between the three have blurred and how that reflects the larger issue of our own food standards morphing as new influences are incorporated. To understand this phenomenon, let’s first return to the pure state of each, before the lines began to blur.
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Volume 3, Issue 2, Posted 6:06 PM, 01.17.07

Late Night Kitchen Kapers

There was a time in my life, when I wouldn’t have given so much as a shrug when contemplating food preparation in the wee hours. There were many late nights spent with friends during college making crepes at 2:00 am that seemed not only reasonable, but darn well appropriate. There were memorable Saturday nights during Law School, spent making a chocolate cake while watching SNL), or even the late night lesson in egg roll preparation. Like Dagwood Bumstead, there’s just something appealing about a late night raid on the refrigerator. But, as age and waistline both increase, those late forays into culinary pursuits have decreased, in inverse proportion. Until, that is, the slumber parties begin.
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Volume 3, Issue 1, Posted 12:12 AM, 01.03.07

Bah Humbug! The Proof is in the Pudding

With the coming of the Christmas season, we find ourselves revisiting our yearly traditions. Favorite Christmas songs fill the air and boxes of heirloom ornaments are unpacked, Charlie Brown discovers the true meaning of the season and Ralphie takes care of Black Bart with his 500 shot Red Ryder air rifle (with the compass in the stock). And along with all the other trappings of the season, we once again enjoy the immortal tale of Scrooge as told by Dickens in A Christmas Carol.
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Volume 2, Issue 25, Posted 1:01 PM, 12.02.06

Pots and Pans: The Art Of Culinary Craftsmanship

My first real set of pots and pans were cobalt blue Le Creuset cookware that we purchased almost 30 years ago. I loved the stuff, but over the years, there were chips and discoloration of the insides. Even though Le Creuset is thin cast iron, it is, nevertheless heavy. And so, a few years back when my son moved into his first apartment, I decided to contribute my pots and pans. I thought at the time that there must have been advances, lighter materials, even non-stick surfaces to which I could upgrade. And so I became the proud owner of a set of Calphalon non stick pots and pans, along with the proper resin non-scratch utensils that are required to keep from damaging the nonstick surface. The point of this history is to explain why now, only 3 years later, and due to the disappointing performance of nonstick coating, I have undertaken research and testing to replace the nonstick pans whose nonstick surface has become unstuck.
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Volume 2, Issue 24, Posted 11:11 AM, 11.19.06

Here Come the Holidaze

Shortly, we will kick off that period of the year filled with the traditions of family gatherings, parties, and culinary treats that cause concern for anyone who is weight conscious. First comes Thanksgiving, resplendent with pumpkin pies, mashed potatoes and gravy, and all the trimmings. In no short order, Christmas, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day follow this feast of a holiday. Interspersed, there are any number of office parties, neighborhood get-togethers, cookie exchanges, gifts of food, and maybe a fruitcake or ten. And, I, for one, am certainly not complaining! This time of year gives me a viable excuse to do the cooking that I love to do. Calories be damned; pass the eggnog (it goes so well with the mincemeat pie with brandied hard sauce)!
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Volume 2, Issue 23, Posted 11:11 AM, 11.02.06

Happy as a Clam?

With the fall season, there are some traditional culinary events to which we all look forward. Of course, there's Thanksgiving and all that goes with it. For the kids, there's the candy bonanza of Halloween. Fall squashes, pumpkin pies, apple cider, tailgate parties, and haunted houses are all annual fall events that give us one last breath of the outdoors before the onset of cabin fever. But, I think one of my favorite treats of the fall culinary season is the mass availability of clambakes. I love those mollusks and the outdoor fun of the last picnic of the season. There is nothing like a clambake to make me "happy as a clam." In point of fact, this uniquely American description of the joyful condition is actually an abbreviation of a slightly wordier bit of wisdom, but one that makes a good deal more sense. The actual phrase, as it was used in the 1830s, was "happy as a clam at high tide," with high tide being the time of the lunar cycle when the clam was safely under water, protected from the rakes of those who would otherwise gather them on the tidal flats.
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Volume 2, Issue 21, Posted 2:02 PM, 10.04.06

In Search of the Exotic

As the world becomes increasingly smaller, our ability and desire to enjoy foods that were once thought of as "out of season" or exotic are more times than not satisfied. Where we once had to wait for locally grown strawberries to ripen in June, we can now obtain the fruit all year long, courtesy of modern farming methods, shipment techniques and, in some cases, genetic engineering. This would appear, at first blush, a very positive development. I mean, after all, I like cantaloupe in January as much as I do in August. The seasonal swing no longer has meaning. Mangoes, papayas, pineapples and bananas are available despite the fact that they are grown thousands of miles from your local grocer.
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Volume 2, Issue 20, Posted 10:10 AM, 09.22.06

In Quite A Pickle

For what follows, I hope my readers take no offense. I am merely pointing out the realities of the seasons and as painful as it may be to bid adieu to the warm days of summer, we nevertheless have to look forward to the process of pulling out long-sleeved shirts, preparing gloves and mittens and looking towards the chilly slide into winter.
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Volume 2, Issue 19, Posted 12:12 PM, 09.08.06

Knife Talk

A recent vacation found my family in a lovely rental home on the outer banks of North Carolina. The rental brochures had promised a newly redecorated home, a short walk to the beach, with a "gourmet" kitchen. The home was indeed quite lovely, with plenty of room for our family and the Schwinn family from Wooster, but my concern centered on the "gourmet" kitchen. All the major appliances were in place, plenty of ice for frozen drinks in the blender, a new range, microwave and dishwasher. Even the pots and pans were quite serviceable. But, after close inspection, there was a complete absence of a cutting board! How can you have a "gourmet" kitchen without a cutting board? Well, the answer, as it turns out, is quite simple. When no knife in the matched set of Kitchen Aid knives (in block) is sharp enough to cut warm butter, there is no need of a cutting board.
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Volume 2, Issue 18, Posted 10:10 AM, 08.24.06

Gad Zukes! My Favorite Way To Get Rid Of Them

There are very few foods that I dislike. Pretty much, I'm willing to give anything a try. Even vegetables that are famously unpopular are okay by me. Brussel spouts, broccoli, rutabagas, I'm pretty much fine with all of them. But, I draw the line at zucchini. There, I've said it. I don't like zucchini. I'm biased against it and undoubtedly, that bias will shade all that I have to say. Many people are fans of this green, cucumber like squash, but, what they really like are all the additional ingredients which are used to make this squash palatable. Ask any zucchini aficionado how they like the veggie, and nine times out of ten, they'll tell you how delicious it is when sautéed with garlic, olive oil and topped with parmesan. In point of fact, what they really love is the garlic, olive oil and parmesan, because the squash itself has no independent flavor. It takes on the flavors that are added to it; a squash sponge. To make matters worse, the plants are prodigious. One zucchini plant, when properly fertilized provides enough fruit to feed a family of four, with nothing but zucchini for at least 2 months during the summer.
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Volume 2, Issue 17, Posted 1:01 PM, 08.10.06

Happy Birthday Julia

It never ceases to amaze me the profound impact that people we have never met, or only met in passing, can have on our lives. I'm not speaking of political office holders whose mandates impact our finances and every manner of our lives, but rather, the person whose message hits a deep resonance within our being and brings about some change in our lives. Many of us have read a book, heard a speaker or listened to a musical performance that has caused some epiphany within, an awakening that causes us to take a different path. Though it is unlikely that we will ever have the opportunity to meet the person who has had the impact, the reality of the effect remains. Some refer to such influences as their Muse. They provide us with inspiration.
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Volume 2, Issue 15, Posted 11:11 AM, 07.15.06

Cheesburger in Paradise: The search for the Great Lakewood Lunch Burger

The endeavor started out innocently enough. A couple of friends, the need to meet to discuss some pressing issues, and a lack of free time. The first question that arose seemed simple enough: "So, where do you want to eat?" But the apparent answer, "Let's just grab a burger" created a plethora of issues. Pretty much any lunch joint serves a burger and there was little agreement on where to eat ours. And so was born the need to search out the most satisfying burger in the 'Wood.
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Volume 2, Issue 14, Posted 10:10 AM, 06.29.06

Chef Goeff - Walking the Plank

The grill is the cooking appliance of choice during the summer. Whether you use a Weber kettle, gas or even electric, most homes have the requisite tools for outdoor cooking. Turn on the gas, or light the charcoal, and in short order, those burgers are sizzling over an open flame and mouths are beginning to water. There is probably nothing that conjures up the image of Americana so much as a backyard barbeque. However, after a few months of simple grilled meats and veggies, we become somewhat jaded with our outdoor cooking experience. "Not burgers again!" "Let's have spaghetti- .please?"
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Volume 2, Issue 13, Posted 12:12 PM, 06.14.06

Summertime Memories

As I remember, that Saturday dawned hot and sultry. But, as a nine year old, the July heat of summer wasn't the burden that those muggy days would become for air conditioned dependant adults. So what if it was like a blast furnace outside, I'd been looking forward to this day for months.
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Volume 2, Issue 12, Posted 10:10 AM, 06.03.06

Wings of Wonder

In anticipation of the 'Best Wings in Lakewood" competition to held on June 18, 2006 at Lakewood Park, I thought it might be appropriate to give some information and insight on that staple of bars and pizzerias, the "Buffalo" wing.
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Volume 2, Issue 11, Posted 10:10 AM, 05.20.06

Camp Cooking

It seems that more and more people are enjoying the great outdoors, at least if you gauge interest on the sale of Goretex raingear and sport utility vehicles. But, more often than not, people who talk about "camping" are usually referring to driving that SUV to a campground, unloading a cooler full of food (and perhaps beverages) and putting on the Goretex raingear as shield against the drizzle they encounter going from cabin to car.
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Volume 2, Issue 10, Posted 2:02 PM, 04.19.06

Vegetables of Spring

Spring brings with it some special opportunities for fresh foods that we have all missed during the (extremely) long cold winter. Sure, there's the first opportunity to fire up the grill, but what I speak of here are two vegetables that make their appearance with the spring, fat juicy asparagus and sweet Vidalia onions. While anymore, asparagus can be obtained year round, during April and May, it is always fresher, and certainly much less expensive. Likewise with Vidalias, an onion that is so sweet and mild that there are some that use it as a base for pies. Something about the climate and soil in the area of Georgia where they are grown makes them different then any other onion.
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Volume 2, Issue 8, Posted 3:03 PM, 04.08.06

You Leave Me (Bad) Breathless

When Mr. Potter reviled the citizens of Bedford Falls as a "bunch of garlic eaters" in "It's a Wonderful Life", no doubt his derision stemmed from the garlic's well deserved reputation as the anti-breath mint. It is justifiably called the "stinking rose" and without question, there are few ingredients which have a greater impact on the failure to obtain a goodnight kiss. Nevertheless, garlic is a well accepted ingredient in most cuisines, from the Pacific Rim, to Mexican and of course Italian. I would go so far as to opine that were it not for garlic, escargot would remain merely snails. So, let's talk a little about this disrupter of romance.
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Volume 2, Issue 6, Posted 12:12 PM, 03.11.06

A Little Ribbin' .. Now There's the Rub!

I know it's only March. I know that the warm days of summer are a few snow drifts away and that your Weber kettle is probably abandoned in a corner of the garage, amidst the leaves that you never got around to cleaning up last fall. But, this does not impact the importance of the message I bring. Spring is only a short hop away. March 21 will be here in a matter of days. For me, it is the official start of the barbecue season.
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Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 12.18 PM / 08th March 2006.

Chef Geoff's Souper Bowl

From the beginning, I'll plead "guilty" in employing an overused pun in the title of this column. I'm hopeful that the Observer readers will forgive my indulgence, but when one considers such things as my rabid fanaticism for the Cleveland Browns, Red Right 88, the Drive, the Fumble and the distinct probability that the only Super Bowl I'll ever be involved with will be spelled "souper," perhaps they'll understand. So, with the caveat as to the title out of the way, on to the main course.
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Volume 2, Issue 2, Posted 09.39 AM / 24th January 2006.

Kitchen Gadget Contest

The first person to guess where and what this is wins their choice of a free haircut at The Regal Beagle or a salon treatment at Revelations Salon, a $30 value. The next five receive a Lakewood Observer T-shirt.
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Volume 2, Issue 2, Posted 03.16 PM / 25th January 2006.

Witch is Brew

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy"
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Volume 1, Issue 10, Posted 01.49 PM / 03rd November 2005.

The REAL DEAL Lasagna

Recipe serves 9 generously. I frequently quadruple the recipe and freeze 3 pans for future use. DO NOT cook if freezing.
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Volume 1, Issue 9, Posted 03.43 AM / 20th October 2005.

Leftover Time

So often, I hear the familiar refrain from friends, associates and readers, "Chef Geoff, I'm just too busy to worry about cooking dinner after I get home from work". It is an all too familiar problem.
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Volume 1, Issue 9, Posted 03.34 AM / 20th October 2005.

Comforting Foods

As the cool nights of fall foretell the coming of winter, we begin to spend more time indoors, and renew the seasonal menu changes from grilled meats, to hearty stews and soups. There are a few more weeks before the grill is semi-retired, but it won't be long before the fragrant smells of the cold weather kitchen evoke hospitality and warmth. It is the time of year when we turn from picnics and barbeques to chili, pot roast, meatloaf and pasta. It is time for comfort foods.
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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 09.45 AM / 16th November 2005.