The internet is a wonderfully incredible thing, isn’t it? Just think back about 15 years or so. How did you communicate with people then? Telephone, sure. Letters, maybe. You surely didn’t sit down in front of a computer and dash off an email that was instantly delivered almost anywhere in the world, did you? Incredible I tell you. And the people you meet on the internet may be from next door or half way around the world.
I’ve always enjoyed technology. I became interested in it when my Daddy started working for Valmont Industries way, way back. Valmont was best known for their circular irrigation systems. You see them all over the country. Those big towers shooting life-giving water onto crops while they slowly, silently circle around and around a field. That’s what Daddy did when he began working at Valmont. He designed irrigation systems for farmers. But the more he learned about technology, the more he thought it might be possible to tie an irrigation system into a PC to have it controlled remotely. This was back when almost no one owned a PC. Most computing was done by scientists in white coats using huge mainframe computers. PCs were hugely expensive. Far too expensive for the typical farmer to purchase, but Daddy could envision what we now experience every day. An affordable PC in most households. His idea for computer-controlled farming applications generated a lot of interest at Valmont so they partnered with IBM to explore the possibility. Because of Daddy’s interest in and aptitude for technology, and because it was his idea to start with, he was asked to head up the special project.
I remember the first PC that Daddy owned. It looked exactly like this one.
There was no mouse. You didn’t need it because everything was text. And I remember the first computer game I ever played. It was called Colossal Cave. Some of you will remember that game. It still frustrates me that I never could win it.
Oh, wait, I’m really rambling aren’t I and I know you’re wondering what any of this has to do with cooking. But I guess I’ve said all that to explain my fascination with technology. It was a little later in life that my interest started, but once it did I knew I’d found what I was meant to do. I’ve worked for years in technology-related fields doing everything from college-level teaching to direct tech support to supervising a help desk with a large crew of technicians. Currently, I’m a full-time webmaster and do some graphic design work as well. All opportunities provided by technology.
I would say that during my career opening up the worldwide web is probably the most significant technological development that I’ve seen. And the most useful. And sometimes the most frustrating. But the way it brings us together is remarkable.
Take this recipe for instance (I know you were wondering when I’d get around to the cooking part). Just a few days ago I was complaining to a blogging friend, Kay, on Twitter that I was in a cooking funk. I just couldn’t think of anything that I really wanted to get in the kitchen and cook. So, Kay being the great friend that she is, challenged me to cook a recipe that she would send me by email. Kay is a fabulous blogger and an incredible photographer. Her blog, Kayotic Kitchen, is a complete joy to read. Oh, didn’t I mention that Kay is Dutch? That’s right. Tweeting to Kay in The Netherlands about my lack of cooking interest and receiving inspiration immediately from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Amazing, I tell you. Amazing.
The recipe she challenged me to cook is called “Hete Bliksem,” which translates literally to “Hot Lightning.” I can’t explain why it’s called that because it’s not hot in the least unless maybe I didn’t use enough black pepper. Anyway, when I first saw the recipe I thought, what in the world….apples, potatoes and bacon….together?? But, because it was a challenge, and it’s very hard for me to back away from a challenge being the competitive soul that I am, I forged ahead. And I am so very glad that I did. The Hete Bliksem is very similar to regular mashed potatoes, except that it has a slightly sweet note in the background from the apples and smokiness from the bacon. Y’all…this is really good. Even if you think you can’t imagine apples and potatoes together, please try this. You’ll be glad you did. Kay said that she and her family enjoy Hete Bliksem with either her Dutch Meatballs (Gehaktballen) or her Stoofvlees. The recipes for both are on her site and I’ve linked to them for easy access. I made the meatballs this time, but I’m definitely going to try the stoofvlees soon.
If you want to have your own trans-Atlantic culinary Hete Bliksem adventure, here’s what you do:
6oz bacon (in one piece) Since we can’t easily get slabs of bacon, I used 6 ounces of the thickest cut I could find
half a pound sour apples (I used Granny Smith)
half a pound sweet apples (I used Fuji)
1 1/2 pound potatoes
2 oz butter
Here are Kay’s directions in her own words:
Leave the bacon in one piece and simmer it in 1 cup of water for about an hour. Make sure the water doesn’t flee the scene. Peel the apples, remove the core and cut each apple in four pieces. Peel and wash the potatoes.
After an hour, take the bacon out of the water and finely mince it. Put the potatoes in the bacon water, add the sweet apples, top with the sour apples and sprinkle the bacon all over. Let it simmer for half an hour, keep an eye on the water level but try not to add water until absolutely necessary.
Drain everything but save the cooking liquid. Mash the potatoes, apples and bacon and use the cooking liquid if the mash appears too dry. Season with about 2 oz butter, salt, a little sugar and a generous amount of black pepper.