Mel’s Diner

Sharp Knives, Raw Meat and Fire


Hey, where’s the food posts, Mike?  I haven’t really posted a recipe kind of thing lately and I’m sorry.  I’ve got one in the pipeline (Chicken Meredith), but, still – nothing.  In fact, this one is kind of childish.

Cookin’ with Coolio

Collio is a rapper, if you haven’t guessed.  Yet, he’s decided to cook on the web.  And, gosh darn it, he’s pretty good!  He’s a lot better then roughly 90% of what’s on The Food Network and that says a lot.  His language is not for the kiddies and the early episodes stress some gratuitous sexuality that’s not is the later ones (yet, they’re still good, go figure).  Still, I’m curiously drawn to him and I bet some of you will be, too.

P.S. – The “You Suck At Photoshop” channel kills me!  I want to adopt Donnie, that’s all I’m going to say.


March 28, 2008 Posted by | Random Blather | 1 Comment


I hate hippies.  And I hate Freegans.  I hate hippies because they don’t bathe, the don’t cut their hair and they complain interminably about the same system that allows them to not bathe, cut their hair or have a job.  I hate Freegans for almost all of the same reasons.

Freegans are, “people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources.”  Or, in the real world, parasites.  They pretend they are these rogues who have forsaken the modern way of existence and live like the foragers (No hunting!  Forfend!) like the cavemen of the past.  What these lazy, good-for-nothings can’t seem to get through their over-pampered-while-growing-up-childhood-heads, is that without the Hell-on-Earth “capitalism”, their very Freeganism wouldn’t exist!  If they didn’t have anything to get from dumpster-diving, this “rummaging through the garbage of retailers, residences, offices, and other facilities for useful goods”, they would die slowly, starving like the non-productive members of society they are.

Must be tough to be so stupid, yet – they do a good job at it.   

I guess I have to give them that.

March 27, 2008 Posted by | Random Blather | 6 Comments



March 23, 2008 Posted by | Random Blather | Leave a comment


I wrote about my confused relationship with technology.  I love it!!!  I hate it!!!  See?  Confused.  But, I’m going to give this “52 Nights a Year” of no screens a shot.  It’s got a Ralph Nader for President kind chance (Mary), but here I go.  Starting this Wednesday, I’m going screenless at home.  (At work, I need Mr. Gates and his precious screen machine – “Oh, my precious!”)

It ain’t gonna be easy.  I put a 20 inch LCD TV in my kitchen, hanging over my cutting board where I watch the lovely Fox News every night.  I have three computers in the house.  I haven’t “read” a book in a long time – I listen to them on my iPod.  Oh, God!  I need help!

So, no posts from me on Wednesdays, for at least a while, I hope.

March 17, 2008 Posted by | Random Blather | 2 Comments


My friends at Serious Eats….OK, time to talk about Serious Eats.  Ed Levine started this blog and it’s one of the best I have seen.  Sure, it’s very New York City centric, but more often than not, it’s full of great stories.  I can’t encourage all of you enough to visit this EVERY DAY.

Anyway, over at Serious Eats I find a post about James Beard from MY FAVORITE NEWSPAPER (sarcasm off), the New York Times.  It’s a little diddy about him and his cookbooks and it’s good – but what makes this incredible is the recipes!  The gang at Serious Eats liked the hamburger recipe (which does look good), but they failed to mention the standout recipe in the bunch – Beard’s Cream Biscuits.  I’ve made these and they are, as Jimmie Walker would say, Dy-No-Mite!  I’m also fascinated by the pound cake recipe – I mean, hello?!?  There’s a whole pound of butter in there!  It looks like the original ratios here (a pound of butter, a pound of flour, a pound of eggs and a pound of sugar) – Oh, baby!  Talk slower…..

Alright, alright…..I’m back.  Just go read the article, I need a cigarette.

March 17, 2008 Posted by | Recipe | Leave a comment


I don’t know how to feel about my Weekend Cookbook Challenge entry for Lis.  It came out very well and meets all of the requirements, but it’s kind of a cheat.  You, see – it’s the same dish I made for last month’s Challenge Nigella – Beef Stew with Anchovies and Thyme.

That time, it didn’t come out well at all.  I put in the 1/2 tsp. of mace and it destroyed the dish.  This time, I used a chuck steak instead of stew beef, a pinch of mace, more anchovies and my beloved pressure cooker.  Success!

Beef With Anchovies And Thyme a la Pressure Cooker 

  • 3 Tbls. Olive Oil, plus more if needed
  • 3 pounds Chuck Steak
  • 1 Large Onion, finely sliced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3 Medium Carrots, Peeled and cut into fat rounds
  • 4 Inner Stalks Celery, cut into fat rounds
  • 12 Anchovy Fillets, minced
  • 2 Tbls. Dried Thyme or 1 1/2 Tbls. fresh
  • 2 Tbls. Marsala
  • 1 Cup Red Wine
  • 2 Cups Beef Stock
  • 2 Heaping Tbls. Flour
  • 1 Tbls. Tomato Paste
  • Pinch of Mace
  • Black Pepper and Salt

Put pressure cooker on the stove with oil.  Heat and then brown the meat briskly.  Remove the meat to a plate and then, first adding more oil if necessary, toss in the vegetables, anchovies and thyme.  Cook, turning frequently, on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the mixture is beginning to soften,  While this is going on, heat the Marsalla, wine, and the stock in a saucepan and remove when it reaches boiling point.

Stir in the flour.  After a couple of minutes or so, pour in the wine mixture and stir well, then stir in the tomato paste and then the mace and some pepper.  Taste and add salt, if necessary.  Return meat to pressure cooker.

Put on lid, bring up to pressure and then cook 45 minutes.  Remove from heat and let pressure come down, about 20 minutes.  Serve with egg noodles.

Beef a la pressure cooker

March 16, 2008 Posted by | Main Dish, Weekend Cookbook Challenge | 3 Comments


Obviously, I love technology.  Duh, I have a website and a blog (my second).  But, I also recognize the negative side of technology.  Roughly, three years ago I was in Florida for some training with my boss and I was waiting at the hotel restaurant for him when I saw this guy wandering around, talking on his Bluetooth phone.  I had a revelation, of sorts…and when my boss came down – I revealed to him, too.  I said, “You know what?  People are too connected.  They are too “in touch”. ”  I went on to surmise that we are all so “involved”, that none of us have a chance to just – think.  So much of our day involves email, texting, on the “celly” – just always connected. 

And that’s just bad. 

I know, the ability to call for assistance at any moment is great.  But, we don’t use it for that. We use it because we’re in the car and we are bored (i.e., my wife).  We are just too connected.  I’m writing this, in my comfy chair, on a wireless laptop.  Easy is the name of the game.  Again, this is bad.

So, where’s the food connection, Mike?  I’ll tell you – it’s with one of my favorite foodies in the world.  A man named Mark Bittman.  Bittman writes for the New York Times and has my favorite food show on PBS, The Best Recipes in the World.  He’s been taking a “secular Sabbath”, a day without cell phones, email, computers, etc., a week.  I’m not sure it involves no TV, but no 21st century stuff we take for granted.  Definitely no Bluetooth. 

And I love it.  I also have been feeling too “connected” lately and I was thinking about doing nothing and just reading a bit. 

March 15, 2008 Posted by | Opinion | Leave a comment


This is a cooking blog – so, everyday I should be posting about the exciting, fun stuff I have been cooking. I mean, c’mon, Mike, you’re a foodie, you cook incredible food every night!  My sister-in-law once confessed to me she was cooking Hamburger Helper and, “you would never cook anything like that”.  Well, I will confess I haven’t made Hamburger Helper in a few years only because I can make something a lot like it in just the same amount of time with less salt, but that’s not to say we have pot-a-feu every night.  Last night, I was so tired the kids had chicken nuggets and tater tots for dinner.  Yes, tater tots and chicken nuggets.  I’m a dad of the 21st century, too – and sometimes junk food is good food. 

But, Mike, what about the other nights?  Well, I did make a roast pork a la Bruce Aidell on Sunday and we went out on Saturday.  Tonight, I cut up a chicken and roasted it and served it with orzo.  Who needs a recipe for that?  So, I don’t have a lot to talk about.  Frankly, a lot of dinners for a foodie is nothing special.  Good food doesn’t mean fancy food.  IT CAN, but it isn’t a requirement.  Good food is often homey food.  And that’s what I have been cooking – homey food.  Nothing you’re not making. 


March 11, 2008 Posted by | Random Blather | 3 Comments


This is another one of Mike’s rants.  This doesn’t have anything to do with cooking, there is no recipe involved, etc.  It’s just Mikey going off.

Bottled water offends me.  Especially, the 20 oz, easy to carry, hand held model.  People – IT’S WATER!!!!  WATER!!!!  Water is the key to life – I know.  Something like 120% of the human body is made up of water.  Blah, blah, blah.  I know all of this, but buying water in bottles is STUPID!  C’mon, water is dirt cheap out of the tap and depending where you live, it’s great!  If you live in one of those places where the water is vary bad, a cheap filter will make it great and still like 2000% cheaper! 

All of us complain about the price of gasoline, but we will spend that much for a gallon of water that comes out of your tap at a 1,000th of the price!  It’s like buying a pet rock.  Go outside, find a rock and name it Rover.  If you want water, go to your freakin’ sink!

March 7, 2008 Posted by | Opinion | 3 Comments


Add begging, and that’s my sex life – I’ve been married for sixteen years!  Oh, that’s terrible, Lord forgive me and may my wife never read this post.  As you may have guessed, I’m feeling better.

Aside from the love life of a married man named Mike in New Hampster (as it was referred to by a good friend in a tax laden nightmare of a state whose capitol rhymes with Fartford), this month’s Weekend Cookbook Challenge (a sliver of genius from a wonderful girl named Sara) is slow cookers, crockpots and pressure cookers hosted by another wonderful lady, Lis from La Mia Cucina, genius that she is.

Now, many people fear pressure cookers.  This irrational fear comes from the explosive, nightmarish, 1st degree burns that used to be caused from early pressure cookers. 

Huh, wimps.

No, seriously, early pressure cookers were, rarely, dangerous.  Ok, deadly.  BUT, those days are over.  Today’s pressure cookers are as safe as an oven.  They have quick-release levers, safety-valves, etc.  No fear. 

I love my pressure cooker.  I just recently used it to speed up a (UPDATE: I orginally said a Nigella recipe, wrong as usual, Mike) Bruce Aidell recipe I didn’t have the time to cook for hours and hours.  It performs wonders, but not for everything.  Julia and crew tested it for stocks in Mastering The Art Of French Cooking and found it lacking.  I think it tends to suck the flavor out of some stuff and unless you’re making a flavorful dish (like stew or chili), it can be too rough on delicate flavors.  This makes sense when you think about it – your forcing things together.  Have you ever heard of a shotgun wedding working out after the shotgun was taken away?  I mean, besides mine.

March 6, 2008 Posted by | Random Blather, Weekend Cookbook Challenge | 1 Comment