Black beans and tomatoes


Took down the tomatoes plants on the balcony. Kind of sad, kind of glad. They were demanding. N ah got no hoz.

Hot dogs

For hot dog buns on a whole 'nuther level, start the night before. Add room temperature water and yeast to a bowl. Allow to proof. Just for the heck of it, let it proof. And what does that prove exactly? It proves the yeast is alive and kicking and it gets the yeast off to a good comfortable start on a wild night of partying. Add an unbelievably small amount of yeast, say 1/4 teaspoon, because you're going to let this go at its own good time, probably even over twelve hours, and when you're not looking, the yeast is in there having wild sex with each other and multipling like mad, then having sex with their offspring and with their offspring's offspring and with their brothers and sisters and cousins, and multiplying without any sex partners at all, in the insane orgiastic undisciplined way that yeast get carried away with themsleves, so there's no point in starting out with a lot of it.  Add salt, which has the effect of knocking back on some of that yeast sex,  and sufficient flour to work into a loose dough ball. This is all the kneading the dough is going to get. None of that knead for ten minutes stuff is necessary, unless you think it's fun like I do, it doesn't hurt.  Cover and fugetaboudit. 

The next day, poke a knife around the edges of the bowl to separate the risen dough from the bowl without deflating it too much. Be kind to your dough, their lives are about to end but they don't know it yet.  Do not punch it down, that's counter productive.  It's still stuck to the bottom of the bowl. Invert the bowl over a sheet of floured aluminum foil or parchment paper. Help it to separate with a few deft pokes with the knife or spoon managed to aid the dough from loosening from the bowl. Let 'er plop onto the aluminum foil. Use a bench scraper or your fingers to carefully shape the dough wad into a vague rectangle with two sides the length of a hot dog, stretching here and patting there. Use the bench scraper to separate the dough wad into thirds or fourths or or fifths or whatever, with the intention of allowing the segments to recover from this transfer from bowl to work surface and to rise into rectangular hotdog bun shapes.  Cover the buns. I use an inverted plastic storage container. Turn on the oven as high as it will go. When the oven comes to temperature and your rectangles have resumed their rise and are probably growing back into one another, use the aluminum foil to to pull the buns into the oven with as little disruption as possible. I use a cookie sheet or a cutting board as a pizza peel (a thing like a giant spatula or pizza shovel) to transfer from work surface to oven. Bake for about twenty minutes.

Because of the long proofing period, the dough ages to an old-world texture and flavor that is utterly absent from breads made quickly. And by quickly I mean breads risen within just a few hours, which is the whole point of modern single-species yeast marketed for home baking. See? We're bucking the system here by purposefully going slowly instead of ripping them off quickly. I tell you, you'll never buy another package of hot dog buns again, and every time you have the misfortune of being presented with an ordinary white-bread bun by someone who simply doesn't care for your well-being, you'll be thinking, "gee, this would be so much better if it was only on one of my own home-made buns."  And when that day comes, congratulations, you are now officially arrogant when it comes to hot dog buns.  

Chicken soup

Pasta infused with chicken broth

Parsley grown on balcony.  Parmigiano Reggiano. 

Ham sandwich

On Maui sourdough bread. With stone ground mustard, ground so poorly that most of the seeds aren't ground at all. And with horseradish made from grated horseradish root and vinegar. And with aged cheddar cheese with blue cheese center. So what you see here is half a sandwich that goes BAM ! in your mouth.

Salmon breakfast

* Sauteed in 1 teaspoon of oil, finished with white wine steam, covered with home-made mayonnaise warmed in microwave in seven second pulses.
* Hash browns from fries previously frozen
* Egg poached in ramekin sprayed with Pam™ and watched like a hawk. A chicken hawk. A chicken egg hawk. A chicken egg hawk that poaches chicken an egg and stands there watching it cook until the white turns opaque and removes the ramekin from the water before the yolk hardens, which is a very alert hawk indeed.

Breakfast, sugar peas, sweet peppers

A breakfast so totally in the Zone it's not even funny. Vegetables rapidly sauteed in olive oil then covered and finished with a steam of raspberry vinegar with a few teaspoons of raspberry preserves. Sandwich ham, tomato, and pecans placed in pan at the end to warm. Egg cooked in a pan sprayed with Pam™ and finished with a tablespoon of water.

Sourdough bread, Maui culture

Culture collected on condominium patio in Maui within a few hours one windy afternoon. Cultivated using flour purchased on Maui and transported stateside in dried powdered form. This was not long after the Washington Anthrax scare of 2005. Credit to my brother for his forbearance through all this collecting and cultivating. Two collections were made actually, the first one on the balcony of another condominium. The first collection sat on the balcony over night and the cultivation process of both stank up the kitchens unbelievably. In that early stage, you'd never imagine something addictively delicious could ever result from something so horrid. It turned the flour brown.

These loaves were made in succession in a medium sized Magnalite pot with metal handle and lid using Jim Layton's no-knead method Search [+NYT +bread] for video.

Egg in a hole

And a hole in an egg in a hole

Ugh. Ya got me!

Bread from Antioch sourdough culture revitalized from two year slumber in dried flake form.


Steel cut, microwave four minutes
with fruity trail mix and extra shredded coconut, pecans, brown sugar, and if you forget a dash of salt, it's just blah, and milk and butter.

Shirred eggs

Sirred = baked.

Yesterday somebody said, "My grandma used to make us shirred eggs." That caused me to look up the word shirred. Looked at pictures. Learned that apparently anything at all can go under the eggs. I'd prefer spinach and some kind of ham but I don't have any spinach. I do have Walla Walla onion and I'm long on sweet peppers, so I used that. Caramelized half an onion with mirepoix including garlic. Elaborated a veloute sauce from home-made broth and threw in frozen chicken bits.

But Bo, how did you manage to avoid the yolk from becoming cooked firm, a problem many people note on the photos you essayed in researching the word shirred? Easy. I separated them, and watched them like a hawk in the convection oven -- a hawk intent on perfect eggs. 

Sourdough, Carl's 1847 Oregon Trail

Two loaves.

Mark Bittman in Sullivan's Street Bakery, Manhattan, Hell's Kitchen, N.Y. introduces owner and head baker Jim Layton's no-knead method. Claiming, so easy a six year old could make better bread than any bakery. Challenged, Jim says, "Four year old!"

Well, there ya go. Video on YouTube and NYT website.

Here's the thing. Long proofing periods (time dough rises) is itself a form of kneading. After proofing, the dough is unceremoniously dumped onto a work surface. Gently patted. I do not know why, but Jim says pat, so pat I do. Considering the dough wad to possess four sides, although it's just a blob, pull outward one side gently but firmly, and ever so skillfully to stretch the entire wad, then flip it back onto itself, effectively halving the stretched wad in length but doubling it in height. Do the same thing to the opposite side. That leaves two directions not stretched. Stretch and flip those over too. So you've stretched and flipped four times, in so doing produced a stack of stretched flips, the stretching running this way and that,  and all this stretching and flipping is all the kneading the dough gets. Cool, eh?

The pile of stretched and flipped dough is dropped into a rocket hot oven pot and covered with a hot lid, then baked on high for thirty minutes, then continued uncovered for another 15 minutes in an oven as high as it will go. Which, for a klutz like myself, is scary high 500℉. Jim burned himself in the demonstration.

The open secret behind this method is exceedingly wet dough. That allows large holes to form. The covered pot retains the moisture keeping the dough wet long enough for it to expand magnificently. Were the dough dry, this would not be possible. Uncovering for the final baking period allows the moisture to migrate to the surface and out. 

Of course, a six year old need not understand all of this, and the high temperature is frightening. Wouldn't trust a youngster with that. So Jim, thank you for the technique, you're a saint for showing this, but as to the six year old, well, that's just patent nonsense.


Pan searing whole chickens

The idea is to pan sear chicken parts so that the skin doesn't shrink, to steam them in liquid for speed and even cooking, then return them to to the pan to re-sear for crispy skin for great presentation. This makes more sense when fewer parts are all done at once, it makes less sense when two whole chickens are done in batches and when the purpose of the whole thing is for for chicken bits to freeze and to make quality broth. It was an experiment. It failed. Simply roasting them is better.

This chicken will be picked apart and frozen. Except for the part I'm eating right now. The bones will be smashed and with all the fond and the skin and loose bits, pressure cooked with liquid for grade A broth. This broth will be the basis for tons of stuff to follow. Conclusion: roasting is better.

The first time I cut up a chicken I didn't know what I was doing. I also didn't know the difference between a fryer and a roaster so I bought both to find out. The roaster turned out to be a lot tougher to cut up, so I learned. The difference is really that roaster are a few weeks older than fryers.  I thought the idea was to hack up the bird into segments whacking brutally through the bone. Surely, I thought,  that's what cleavers are for. I didn't know about locating and skillfully slicing through joints. I had a great deal of difficulty and possibly ruined a knife. I kept thinking about Jeffrey Dahmer and the word "dismember" kept running through my mind. I nearly passed out. Had to sit down and recover, then get back to hacking. Later I'd see Julia Child on television explain how to do all this with some intelligence. I watched her with rapt attention. She cheerfully recommended cutting up whole chickens instead of buying parts, she said, "Plus, it's fun!" I thought, "You're one crazy lady, you are." But that changed my attitude toward the whole thing and now I think of Julia a bit fondly whenever I do this, which is often. I love Julia Child. I owe her everything.

Apple and cheese

Fried rice

Rice pressure cooked for five minutes in 1.5 X water to rice. Left to depressurize of heat.

* held-over kielbasa added.

Mashed potatoes

How to stave starvation in two easy steps.  OK fine! Four or five easy steps.

Produced from potatoes prepared previously and frozen

Then pushed through a ricer like th

Gravy is a veloute sauce prepared rapidly with roux and chicken broth also prepared previously. Garlic added to roux.  Oh, and some Happy Cow™ cheese broken on top. 

Hummus as guacamole

* Garbanzo beans substituted for avocado
* Olive oil heated with garlic added

* Chips made with masa herena and warm water, formed into small balls, smashed in tortilla flattener, fried for a few seconds, cut in stacks into wedge shapes, deep fried while turning until dehydrated.

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