duck blueberry mushroom risotto



I noticed Anne Burrell pull a container like this of chicken stock from her refrigerator. It is an odd container to store one's own chicken stock and I realized she and other chefs are doing what I recently discovered in the frozen cabinets at Tony's market. Their staff prepares this and other stocks, chicken being the most reasonably priced. So far I bought four, maybe five, and I resolved this really is the way to go, a much better deal than the cartons and the best part, made right there. 


Oliver's duck/blueberry sausage from previous sausage and scrambled egg photoset. Gentle, the trick is not overcook it.



I do not have proper Arborio rice on hand so Japanese short-grain rice is substituted, among the worst substitutions possible, but I am certain I can pull this off. With vigorous stirring the rice does slough surface starch and keeps doing that  and it does form a rich starchy sauce,  and it does absorb liquid like nobody's business and that absorption can be controlled by cooling, then by adding more hot liquid to loosen, loosen enough to accept cheese, but even if it didn't form a rich thick sauce I could turn rice grains to powder and add that by the teaspoon and achieve the same thing. As it is, feta cheese compensates nicely for this short-grain rice's starchy shortcomings and I am pleased with the result. 


Additional blueberries to augment the blueberries already in the sausages. 


Whoever heard of blueberries in risotto? I might just now have invented a new thing.



It really should sweep the globe. 

It looks almost like oatmeal but it tastes nothing like it.

* bland rice
* butter
* chile flakes (to alter the bland rice)
* dry mustard
* chicken stock homemade in someone else's professional kitchen. Two units.
* parmigiano-reggiano and feta cheese
* duck/blueberry/pork sausage
* mushrooms
* oregano
* blueberries

No onions. No garlic. No beer nor wine nor alcohol. No bay, cumin, cilantro, nor basil. No tomato. No olives. No cream, no olive oil. No sweet/sour thing going on, nothing bitter. 

Simple, straightforward, unhallenging, yet nothing mundane pedestrian nor ordinary. I immediately want more, and it's right there still hot.

duck blueberry sausage, jalapeño scrambled egg


Four photos, where one will do.






I love the gentle self-satisfaction, unharried confidence, self-actualized style that wealthy people tend to show and that is evident in places like Whole Foods Cherry Creek, compared to other nearby Whole Foods, and said so to Joseph who was visiting from Arizona and drove us both there and making purchases half the day. He comes to town every few months or so, sometimes it is more months between visits. Joseph said, "Well, it is Cherry Creek." 

Right from the start, parking the car, Joseph pulled in tight next to a small one. I got out and leaned on his rental to steady myself for a shot of the front of the store. The telephoto can frame the shot however I like so the barrel is going back and forth with the camera lifted in front of my face I was talking to Joseph while framing the shot and noticed he seemed to be addressing somebody else. A man had walked up as soon as I lifted the camera and to the side I did not see him standing there waiting patiently for me to get out of the way. Just stood there holding his bags allowing my shot, exchanging a few words with Joseph. Not annoyed in the slightest. Apparently charmed to have encountered someone outside and not at all delayed.

Inside, the same thing. Repeatedly. I am a nuisance. I am in the way of people trying to shop and they stop, quietly wait, as if the shot were for something important, and just stand there as captive audience. I say a few words, they respond kindly gracefully without a trace of urgency or being put off, in fact responsive and happy to stop and exchange a few words. Graceful as all h-e-double carrot sticks.

I met more women in the span of half an hour than I recall each one of them beautiful and pleasant some oddly bundled for winter on a gorgeous bright warm February day. 

"What happened to these strawberries?" 
"I don't know." 
"It's like they're resolutely ugly."
"I see that. They're proclaiming their organic dirt-cred."
"I'm tempted to buy some just for that." 
"Me too." 
"My sister-in-law won't touch gargantuan perfect strawberries."

"Heh. Why not?"

I put on my slavic accent, "Genetically modified. Not natural." I go "Yea, they're unnatural. The farmers have been selectively choosing and planting for all strawberry-history!" She smiled agreeably as if I were agreeing, "And then along comes Chernoble and BLAM giant strawberries all over the place."

Like that, all the way through. Two women shopping together came up on me, I was blocking their way. And later as I was photographing a display of prepared cut vegetables arrayed alluringly for lunch, another woman came up on me, noticed the two canes tucked into my crotch, the more-serious-than-usual lens and allowed a moment without protest. I noticed her when removing the camera from my face.

"Pretty" I say like a boy captivated by pretty colors and with that bit of transactional analysis settled she address me as if I were a boy.
"And good for you too."
"Oh come on, who cares. Look how they did that by jumbling colors. They could have grouped by color and shade and arranged a rainbow but instead jumbled chaotically and a lot more attractively." The boy shot back.
"I care. You should care. Yes it is pretty but better they're actually good for you." 
"Pffft."  See what I mean? Engaging. 

When Joseph flies in, he calls, and one of the evenings he's in town we go out for dinner and catch up. That's been the pattern. Over time we settled on exploring steak houses. Tried them all around town. He has his favorites from travels that have outlets in California and in Nevada, Fleming's for one being such a place others are gauged. He mentions that. 

Then one day last year I said, "Let's broil steak here. I can do as well." So we did. I picked very good steaks. Good steaks are available two blocks away, USDA prime, Colorado beef, instead I went a little bit farther, drove to Oliver's for the same thing except dry aged and that makes a noticeable difference and can compensate for lack of fire grill. We cooked the steak here and along with a salad left a lasting impression on Joseph. 

Months later another visit. Now Joseph is suggesting we do something here and he imagines that being a pain in the butt but it isn't. It is his suggestion not mine to go shopping together this time because he has time to kill anyway before the flight out. So we did. But I told him I must buy things apart from the dinner tonight, I have things of my own I must buy for the week. He said, "Fine." 

At checkout at Oliver's, the first place, I said, "Ring these up separately, please." Joseph said, "Get out of here" and pushed me aside dismissively, engaged the clerk, said, "put them together." 

It was a lot, this sausage among the items.

At Whole Foods the same thing. Joseph bought everything I threw in the basket for my entire week, not his, and not just for that night's dinner. He was having a good time. 

One more incidental place to go, nothing at all to do with dinner, unrelated things unavailable at Oliver's and Whole Foods and the total for the day must have been somewhere around $300.00, I think, I did not pay anything. I made out like a high-end consumables bandito. 

Perhaps to compensate for the previous times I bought things. Perhaps to express gratitude for me being a cook. I do not know. 

rib-eye steak bone in, baked potato



Colorado beef, prime, dry aged. 

Para bailar la papa
Se necisita manos del hombre
Dos grandes manos del hombre
Par mi, para ti, ay arriba arriba
Ay arriba por ti seré, por ti seré, por ti seré

Papa papa 

Papa papa

You will need two man-hands to bailar la papa. It is hot. The papa is sliced right through from end to end the long way. Ruthlessly without remorse nor trace of compunction, for the end has come ha llegado el fin de la papa, make it clean. With man-hands crush the potato the long way so completely it pushes out the short end so that the length of the potato is now the width of the potato and the original width pushed out to the new expanded length, as if to switch places. That is how completely la papa is crushed. Cerca de completamente aplastado. While retaining chunks.

If you are blessed or cursed with lady-hands then wear these Hulk mitts to compensate for your man-hand shortcomings y continuar bailando la papa como si cualquiera te gusta and continue however you like. 

Remove Hulk mitts, they're useless unless you have further crushing or pounding.

orange and blueberry pudding





Custard the usual way with *egg blended directly into *milk and *cream with emersion blender, no fussing with separating, tempering and such, all that is nonsense. Scant *cornstarch for backup thickener. Orange flavor by grated orange *rind, cut *segments and *blueberries added to the wine glasses separately and not cooked. *Sugar, *vanilla, *salt.

The first time I made pudding from a box by adding milk and it thickened by itself by heat and then more so by cooling and resulted in something delicious, I thought, "This is magical." 

"Magicians do such things as this." 

"Chefs are basically magicians who know many spells." 

That's what I thought.

Oliver's prime hamburger, sprung potato





Sprung as in spring, but if I said spring then you'd think Spring so I saved you a fake out.


This is slice, slice, slice, turn the potato and slice between slices, and then I realized I have a machine that does this in one continuous spiral but it pulls out a potato plug from the center and when it comes to eating it turns out one long continuous potato spiral is not all that fun to eat. 

I thought it would be.


But it is not.


You do not mess with excellent hamburger. Colorado beef. Dry aged. 

Another one of those excellent things that comes by way of deprivation, by accident, by people being lazy or stupid or all of those things. Think of the most banal thing possible and that is how excellent things are discovered and how mankind advances. Then forgotten. This is why Tony's butchers with their Colorado prime beef and Wagyu and such cannot beat Oliver's.

Joe said, "It isn't rocket science."

?

"Those guys up in Montana didn't have freezers. They had to store all that meat someplace. They hung it up in the barn, and boom, aged beef."

Why Montana by way of example is not clear but his point supports my own so no argument here. 


Really not messed with. No sauce, no chile, no garlic, so not-messed-with that it is seared on one side only, the other side protected by sweet onion. The onion is fried on that side but the meat is not. 

Not even salt. Never salt on any steak while frying. This is contrary to what you might officially learn. Dry rubs on roasts with salt are okay, but not on steaks nor hamburgers. The reason is because salt pulls out moisture, salt on the surface pulls moisture to the surface where it is seared off. So don't do that. 

Then let it rest. A while. An uncomfortable while. I get it, you're hungry, but the steak or hamburger must rest. 

Why?

The meat fibers are denatured and wrung tight like a mop by high heat. Allowing the meat to relax means allowing the individual meat-fibers to relax and like a mop that relaxes it will then absorb back the juice it squeezed out and did not fry off because you wisely avoided adding salt to the surface until serving. 

jalapeño omelet


With a name like Robusto one can expect it to hold its own to jalapeño and it does, its flavor not lost to capsaicin dominion. Two strong flavors blended exceedingly well, shallot sidelined playing no interference and that is it.



Nicked off the end without tasting and realized, whoa Daddy-o, this is strong and too much, now I have to eat some and bring it down to the right amount. 




There are blank spaces in the little plastic greenhouse for more dirt plugs. Today I noticed three more plants coming out of the dirt. I lost track but I think they are the previous jalapeño. They might be habanero or tomato. 


We like shallots a lot so we shall eat them a lot. 



Something is needed. Something basic. Something not fussed with. Something fundamental nearly archaic yet new and fresh and delicate, too delicate for such things as transportation and handling with its own sweet nature to sit on top of this subdued battle of profound flavors contained in a lumpy quilt of loose egg, like precious little red Clara Bartons attending the rolled up battlefield. 



This jalapeño and Robusto omelet is very good but I do not recommend it. My impulse is make a second immediately, the omelet is that good, but I do not recommend having an immediate second either. 

Better to leave oneself wanting than to burn oneself out, don't you think? 

Those are the two choices it is not possible to get it just right.

I imagined myself making another, as I have before, and getting half way through, as I have before, and going, "Oh crap I can barely stand to take another bite. But I don't want to waste this. Come on, eat it. Eat it I said." As I have before, and I don't want to do that to myself again. So like I said, better to leave myself wanting innit. 

Arizona Oranges



I learned to never say, "No" to boutique Arizona oranges even when already deep in oranges, say, "yes" because oranges do not get better than this. 

Joe said the skins are thicker this year, "How did they know it would be needed for the freezing we had?" He wonders, "Because sometimes the skins are like that" he shows improbably paper-thinness with his fingers, "but this year it is all thick skin and little orange, so when I'm squeezing juice there is a lot of waste" he continues his orange-related enigmas, "and this year they have seeds. I do not understand that. But now you can plant them!" 

These oranges come from Paradise Valley, Maricopa, Arizona. Let's go there and see.










Back to the orchard.


Hummingbird!


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