macaroni and cheese with bacon and chipotle

Every time I do this, fry diced bacon until it becomes crisp, my mind casts back to a grocery store on Maui. My brother rented a very large condominium, too large for me, it took too long to walk from one room to another, and we went out to buy food to prepare there. We were shocked at the prices, and I mean shocked. It'd be less expensive to eat out for each meal. $5.00 for a bell pepper, $9.00 for a pineapple and so forth for every item.

Inside the store a tall young man with jet black hair and shopping on his own kept glancing over at me, aisle to aisle throughout the whole store. It bugged me. My brother is friends to the world and the next thing I know the young man followed us out and there is my brother engaged in earnest conversation. Even with my brother as intermediary the guy still wouldn't give me eye contact, still would not respond to anything that I said. He was weird. 

Turns out he was shopping for Bacon Bits. That was his diet. That's what he lived on. In a jar, in a plastic container, in a plastic bag, however he found them, that's what he wanted. That is what kept him alive on Maui.

And I kept thinking, Dude, you eat that crap with all its nitrates and preservatives, and color and whatever else goes into it beyond bacon, when you can buy bacon straight up and fry it. You can buy top bacon, like this, and have top bacon bits all day long, and an improvement on a whole magnitude of order, and have that easily by simply cutting it and frying the whole package at once. Fry two packages, three packages, fry all you like, and you're set for your entire vacation.

I could show him easily at our condominium, and he could continue enjoying the conversation of my brother. But no. There was a mental barrier that prevented that sensible move. And that mental barrier was me. 

And I dindo nuffin. I was just standing there minding my own bizwax.

When you get down to the ends of several cheeses like this, there are a number of things you can do with them. Make crackers, for example. Just grate them and mix them together for your own unique one-time cheese combination and make omelets, or cauliflower soup, or any carbohydrate like potato, cornmeal, or rice. 

The cheese sauce is made with a Béchamel that includes the chipotle, garlic, and nutmeg.

The voice inside my head said, "And there goes your diet."

Then the other voice in my head said, "Yeah,  true dat, but this small batch made four meals." 

Then the other voice in my head goes, "It's still fast carbohydrates and fatty cheese."

Then the other voice in my head, possibly the second voice, goes, "The fat in the cheese slows down the digestion of the fast carbohydrates, and the amount of each meal is small." 

Then the real voice that's inside my neck somewhere behind my mouth said out loud, "Knock it off up there! you're confusing me." 

miso with gyoza and tofu

Heated without the miso

Miso has a shelf half-life of a million years. Apparently. This miso is six years old. Oddly, it's the fresh kind that is unaged. 

One rounded tablespoon miso added off heat.

This actually has a lot of things in it. Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens brown paper packages tied up with strings. These are a few of my favorite things.

Wait. I meant to say, kombu bonito dashi and fish sauce, mirin and sake rice vinegar and soy added by teaspoon in concentric rings. These are my fa-vor-ite Japanese things. 

Gyoza doesn't go in miso soup. But I don't care. Jimmy Crackcorn and authoritarians can just f.o. I meant to say, the master has gone away.

slippery shrimp

This was seen on the Netflix show Eat Your Words, the episode with the judge from Yang Chow's in China Town, Los Angeles. The recipe is famous and the favorite thing on their menu for the last forty years.

It's butterflied shrimp coated in cornstarch then deep fried and coated with thickened sweet/sour sauce of garlic/ginger, and capsaicin heat.

My batch is much smaller than recipes online.

This is Chinese/American and mine uses Japanese ingredients because I like them. Recipes call for green of sliced scallion at the end so that is purely decorative.

* garlic
* ginger, these first two things cooked in ...
* oil
* tablespoon of catsup, itself a sweet/sour sauce, tomato-based, this accounts for its color. An American ingredient.
* soy sauce for salt, or else regular table salt
* sugar, I used mirin that is sweeter, so less is used, and has much greater depth
* vinegar, these two ingredients expand the sweet/sour I used rice vinegar that is comparatively sweet
* red chile flake, or something else hot. I used Chipotle that has smoked flavor
* teaspoon of corn starch to thicken the sauce. 

* I added scant sake, a teaspoon, because I like it in things like this.

The shrimp is butterflied to spread them out. This is a bit tricky when the shrimp come deveined because you slice from the bottom to butterfly and they're already sliced on the top.

Incidentally, cutting through the bottom is how Japanese sushi chefs splay shrimp for ebi sushi. Slicing through the membrane that behaves as a tendon that allows live shrimp to flap its tail and swim is how sushi chefs prevent the cooked shrimp from curling. That, and cooking the shrimp in water that is not boiling.

Enough corn starch to coat the shrimp. Straight cornstarch makes an incredibly crunchy coating that stands up to being covered in sauce.

Once the coated shrimp are in the oil, the surplus cornstarch is dumped out and the same bowl is rinsed and now contains the sauce previously prepared.

The crispy fried shrimp are flipped around and coated with sauce.

Well, what do you say? It really is tasty as the Los Angelenos rave about. Well done, Mr. Chow who obviously invented this for Americans. You understand us so well.

A video online repeats, "The best thing I ever ate with sticks." 

wakame salad

Dashi. Kombu katsuobushi dashi. Dried kelp, the green band, and dried smoked bonito flakes (skipjack tuna). The pink bits underneath the green band. 

Dried seaweed and flakes of dried fish steeped in water that had boiled. Like tea. Nobody will tell you this, except me, this is fish and seaweed tea. Simple as that. You make tea. Don't you? Therefore you're already expert at making kombu katsuobushi dashi. QED.

Kombu comes dried, usually a flat leaf the width of the package. It soaks up quite a lot and actually thickens. What goes in a wrinkled thick black paper swells to an even thicker green leaf. The stuff you see in the ocean waving around in huge bands where fish live and hide and breed. Like in the cartoons. This brand comes processed in strips shrunken up like thin black cigars that soak quickly into this leaf shape. The shape of the plant is much broader. This type is very convenient. Like tossing a cigarillo into the water. I like it.

Tofu is not called for in wakame salad, but this is my dinner tonight so I added it. 

Now, watch a Samurai come around and slice off my head for violating Bushido canon. 

The sauce is brilliantly simple and the most delightful thing that your tongue will ever orgasm over. 

* 1 tablespoon dashi (Seaweed and dried fish tea. They call it soup. Please.) 
* 1 teaspoon mirin
* 1 teaspoon sake
* 1+1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
* 1+1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
* 1/8 teaspoon chile flakes
* if I added 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce it'd be better but then it wouldn't be vegetarian.

Yellow squash. Thinly sliced cucumber is called for, soaked in salted water for awhile, but I do not have any cucumber on hand at the moment so I used this yellow squash instead. Cucumber is a better choice. 

Wakame is like spinach except it tastes like the ocean smells and its texture is more firm. It's tougher. 

You know how a huge pile of spinach cooks down to tablespoon of vegetable. That's because you bought mostly water. This is the opposite.  It comes dry and impossibly light. A tablespoon soaks up to cup. It absorbs a remarkable amount of water. 

If spinach were sold dried like this then nobody would buy it. Or maybe they would. Maybe I just now thought up a new marketing idea.  

Toasted sesame seeds. My photos were erased. All they're good for is tiny white dots. You get more flavor with 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil. 

cloche-baked bread


I'm pleased with this loaf by the slow overnight technique and baking at high temperature inside a hot closed clay cloche. 

* water
* yeast
* flour
* salt

Let's have some with top olive oil and oregano.

Look at that. Just lookatit! It's better than anything. I mean it. No brag. Just fact. 

I'm telling you. I spoiled myself. I look at your mass produced bread and go, "What? Me eat that? When I can make bread better myself without any effort at all. Just casual fun. And bread, real bread, rolls off my fingertips like water?" It's great being me. 

fried rice, white bean hummus

toast, tomato and roasted red bell pepper soup

The toast is my own bread proofed overnight and not kneaded. Baked for French onion soup. The tomato/roasted red bell pepper soup is the kind that is sold in cartons, and honestly, I've not had anything better. Three minutes, done, lunch just like that *snap.* 

flavored rice balls

* 3/4 cup white rice
* 1 cup water
* 1/2 cup bonito fakes
* 1 teaspoon fish sauce
* 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
* 1 teaspoon mirin
* 1 tablespoon soy sauce
* 8 strips nori

Pressure cooked 15 minutes.

South River Miso shipment

The weirdest thing. UPS sends notifications shipment tracking so the package was expected any time today. Their deliverers are inconsistent. Some call for me to come downstairs, some knock on the door like little kittens, others as police SWAT, while others don't knock at all. So I checked the front door. Nothing there. Then sat down at the computer. Bing. Notification of delivery. Box at the front door. And I had just checked the front door thirty seconds earlier. 


South River is so reliable. So steady. I saw the owner on t.v., and if he must be characterized, then he's a hippy. A reliable old hippy steady in his ways. 

One can gripe about shipping costs but you are buying steady reliable attention and professional service. The place is awesome. This is exactly how the shipment came last time, six years ago.

They say on their website the whole workforce goes out into nature in springtime to collect dandelions and wild leeks to make this once-a-year batch of miso. So I thought, what the heck, give it a try. 

And I love the prepared soup  made commercially of roasted red chile peppers with tomato that is marketed in cartons, so I thought, eh, give South River's garlic and red pepper version of miso a try. 

Otherwise, my preference is their simplest of all. The version that is not aged. 

I ordered a bit prematurely. There is nearly a whole jar of the plain version still in the refrigerator. And a small amount of another type. 


NY steak, seared vegetables

Zucchini and yellow squash and red bell pepper are seared in the same pan along with steak. The pieces are cut irregularly and arranged in the pan for a flat side to char. Then added to raw uncooked tomato and coated with 1 tablespoon rice vinegar.  Honestly, the vegetables are very good. I think they are my favorite part. 

The liquid is 1/4 cup of beef broth from bones. Here again, the whole two quarts is intensely beef flavored and set into giggly aspic meaning a good deal of marrow was extracted earlier. It is the best beef stock that I ever tasted. It's awesome when you do this yourself. Well worth the effort. It's all in the roasting of the bones and then pressure cooking for hours. In the electric pot this is very low effort and even lower electric energy. 

tuna steak, flavored rice, green beans with pecans, napa cabbage

The rice water is flavored with bonito flakes, sake, mirin and toasted sesame seed oil.

The green beans and the cabbage are flavored with rice vinegar and mirin.

Radishes are sliced, substituting for daikon which is also a radish.

This is an outstanding meal with flavors and depth all around that you just don't expect.

chocolate chip cookies

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