rib eye steak, baked potato





I didn't rinse the potato and there was itty-bitty grit on the skin. Ewwww. I hate that grit. 

beans with bacon and mint


This was lunch and dinner, in different forms. The second one was with a fried egg. Tomorrow it might be with avocado.

The flavor is outstanding. The bacon is excellent and all of the bacon fat is used. Plus some unsalted butter for buttered beans. It has honey and mustard and wine vinegar to finish so there's standard dressing and sweet and sour right there. 

The beans were soaked overnight and cooked with pressure for one hour and that turned out to be too long. The beans are softer than I aimed for. 





smashed yellow potato and fried eggs


Tarragon and strong cheddar cheese on the potatoes. The potatoes were boiled then smashed into pan with hot butter, using the bottom of a cup. 

chicken soup with whole wheat dumplings


Something similar was my favorite thing that Mum made.

She'd use a whole chicken that made its own broth. The usual mirepoix but of course she didn't call it that. Plus potatoes. And her dumplings were actually egg noodles rolled thickly and cut into squares. They absorbed broth as they cooked. And my favorite part of my all-time favorite thing was when noodles suck together and stayed a bit doughy inside. 

I put an egg in my whole wheat dumplings because I'm putting eggs in everything where they don't belong. I almost stirred a beaten egg into the broth.

The broth is outstanding. It works by itself. It doesn't need anything else. Except possibly a little dilution with water. It's strong. Very strong.

roasted chicken sandwich on homemade sourdough bread with cheddar cheese sauce


I'm out of white flour so whole wheat flour milled here at home was used for b├ęchamel. The cheddar cheese is imported through Trader Joe's. It's about one fourth the cost of the cheddar I buy with its fascinating qualities, from Tony's a few blocks away, and I'd say about  half of its awesomeness, but still very good when compared with average American impressively industrialized and mass marketed efforts.

roasted chicken and chicken stock




Brined roasting chicken from Trader Joe's. Cost: $15.00. And that's a bit on the high side. It's organic. I suppose. I do not think it is free range. I think Whole Foods has them for less. I'm not sure.


Baked in a glass bowl with a glass lid (that fits another bowl). I used one of those steaming platforms that spreads out like an umbrella to fit various pots. The central post of mine is broken off. I think that I did that on purpose after I bought it. 

This cooked on low for too long then on higher temperature to brown for too long. I thought that I put the chicken in the bowl upside down so internal liquid would settle in the breast, or at least pass through it, but I had it right side up by mistake.

The breast meat is very dry and unpleasant.

I ate all the crisp skin because it will never be this good as it is right now.









The breast meat is soaking in the liquid that drained while roasting. Hopefully that will make it more moist. Usually all this liquid would go into the stock pot. But not this time. Because the breast is so dry.


These bags are all the bones from previous chicken consumed since the last time. Mostly femurs from thighs. There are bones from two whole ducks, and some bones with meat that was not roasted. 

The bones are all stuffed into this pressure pot that has three quarts of water. It's top to bottom of bones broken open with pliers. This will be an incredibly dense chicken and duck stock. There are no vegetables. Just bones and their marrow. 


Edit: Three quarts of water went into this pot, filling it to 3/4 mark. Then all the collected bones. Closed and pressure cooked. This whole pot strained out to exactly three quarts of exceedingly dark stock. Three times darker than the best tasting stock from organic and free-range chickens purchased from Tony's. Their stocks really are superior to everything else that I purchased. And this stock is 3X better. In color, in aspic, in fat content, and in taste.

There were a few tablespoons beyond the three quarts. I lifted the whole pot to my lips and drank it. Expecting weak and incomplete flavor. The stock is amazingly flavorful. No salt, no additional seasonings. Nothing but bones and scraps. It's awesome. I cannot say that it's liquid gold. It's brown. It's the best stock that I've made so far. And I have three full quarts of it. Plus half a quart of much weaker Tony's. And Tony's is twice as strong as you buy in cartons. And I'm not complaining about commercial stock. I buy it, and it's quite good. But this is a whole different magnitude of order and the comparisons are just unfair. 

At Thanksgiving, if you have a turkey and you don't use the turkey carcass for stock, then you're doing this whole cooking thing incompletely.

escalloped potatoes with vegetables, thin cheese sauce








Not shown:

* butter
* milk
* mustard powder
* nutmeg
* bay leaves
* chile flakes
* salt/pepper
* mint

Usually starch will slough from the potatoes enough to thicken a sauce but these potatoes are too waxy to do that. Still, a few potatoes can be smashed to do the same thing. Or, flour can be added to the butter at the beginning for roux, but I did not do that either. A cornstarch slurry will work also. So the milk curdles as it boils and creates these proto-cheese curds that float all around. they can be blended into a thicker sauce but I did not bother with that. If you are entertaining then you'll want a smooth thicker sauce for its eye-appeal. 

Imagine the things you can put in this. Just go through your crisper, your freezer and your pantry. 

* wine or beer
* onion
* spinach
* herbs
* tomato
* avocado
* butternut or acorn squash
* pecans or almonds or walnuts, what have you
* different types of cheese
* toasted breadcrumbs or croutons
* cream or sour cream
* dates or figs
* bacon, ham, or chicken
* whitefish, mussels or clams, shrimp, salmon, crab
* ground cornmeal
* pasta
* sourdough bread
* green beans
* Brussels sprouts
* corn flakes or oatmeal

tomato and sliced turkey sandwich on whole wheet sourdough bread


With chunks of powerful cheddar cheese on the side.  I could eat this everyday and never get tired of having it. 

Maybe not. 

Look, I'm trying to make a point over here, alright? I ate it, I'm full, and I'm already sorry it's gone. I must go talk to a psychiatrist. I'm afflicted with oral fixation. 

gyoza


This is a package of prepared gyoza dumplings from Trader Joe's.

I bought similar dumplings from an Asian market and they were not good at all so I nearly passed on these because of that but these are actually quite good.

The sauce that I made is 

* toasted sesame seed oil
* fish sauce
* soy sauce
* sake
* tiny amount of sugar (in place of mirin)


Salad dressing is

* rice vinegar
* olive oil
* mustard powder
* tiny amount of sugar

whole wheat sourdough bread


Approximately 1/3 of the mass is levain (sourdough starter) from previous batches. It's the only leaven used.


Approximately 1/3 of the new flour is whole wheat that was milled here at home from wheat berries bought from Whole Foods.


Approximately 1/3 of the new dough is reserved for future levain. 

That means the new sourdough starter has salt in it and whole wheat in it and that goes against the rules of sourdough starter but I just don't care.

And it means 2/3 of the new dough is shaped into a new loaf. The levain goes back into the refrigerator.




It's a very nice loaf. And it is delicious. And you will not find anything like this commercially. 

And that makes me feel a bit guilty to hog this excellent bread for myself. But what am I to do? People like their commercial mass marketed foam Wonder bread for sandwiches and they wouldn't appreciate the excellence of this bread anyway. They've come to identify with their captors. They suffer Bread Stockholm Syndrome and there is nothing I can do about that.

Greek salad

Greek salad from Trader Joe's, pumped up a notch.



tuna, daikon, lettuce, dipping sauce

pear waffle fail

Made with the syrup in a tin of pears and with honey instead of sugar. They're not good. Too floppy. Too soft. In my opinion waffles should be crispy and that is not possible doing them this way. They taste fine but the texture is terrible.


Fail.

This failure is what happens when you abjure commercial mixes and recipes as I do. It's how we cook-types learn by discovering what to avoid. Pears -- fine, syrup from tins -- not fine. Syrup goes on top of the waffle, not in it.


cubed Yukon potato fried in duck fat, cheddar cheese, beef gravy, che





The cubed potato is boiled first.

The duck fat comes from two ducks cooked earlier, its fat rendered and frozen. All the fat used to fry the potato is consumed.

The cheddar cheese is the best I've ever tasted.

Gravy made from seasoned roux and commercial beef stock. It has cumin, mushroom powder, and rosemary. 

This is dinner. And I'm perfectly satisfied

gyros salad, avocado, apple, cheddar


And cucumber and scallion. Olive oil, rice vinegar dressing.

Doesn't this look delicious? Well, it is! 

Tony's offered these small packages of gyros that I've not seen before. They make it themselves right there. Frozen. I nearly passed them up, but I selected the package with the thinnest slices and I cannot keep off of them. I've been nibbling them one by one like a rat, and it's the best that I've tasted. It's my new favorite thing.

steak salad



This is three thick slabs of the Baron of Beef roast from Tonys, fried, seasoned, and thinly sliced to strips, avocado, English cucumber, a single green onion, deep rich cheddar cheese.

The vinaigrette is rice vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, prepared mustard and clover honey.

Together they are quite something and better than any of the salads we had on the road which is very strange when you consider how simple this is. And that we were driving through America's bread basket. It's so easy to get salads right and yet everyone gives them the short shrift and blows it. My own mum took salads as perfunctory. My dad derided salads as rabbit food, and the only dressing they knew came in bottles so they bought all of them. Every salad dressing offered. Every dinner involved dragging out all the bottles of dressing all at once. So each of us kids had our own flavor. It was ridiculous, a state of affairs that endured my entire time at home.

Until I returned home. 

I said, "Mum, let me make the salad." Nobody got their choice of dressing as they were accustomed. That put them a bit off. Mum rejects mushrooms but she never ate one that didn't come out of a tin or a jar. I dolled up regular prepared and dressed dinner salads. The next dinner Mum copied the style. She was paying attention at how to be just a tiny bit creative if only by cutting things differently, irregularly, and using a variety of vegetables, mixing raw with blanched and with meat and cheese. I sat there amazed gazing at this marvel of Mum learning a new trick on her own, just copying. Before I could fashion a compliment without also reminding negatively about previous salads, she said. 

"Say, Bobby, how do like your salad? Huh?"

"I like it a lot. Very creative."

"You're rubbing off on me, Kid." 

My dad didn't notice a difference.

Blog Archive