Banana oatmeal cookies

This was to get rid of a couple of large overly ripe bananas. The idea is based on peanut butter cookies. There is no recipe. I just added cookie type ingredients until I had a mixture sufficiently stiff to be cookie dough. I started with

1 egg
2 glugs of vanilla extract, where glug = unmeasured shake from the 16 oz. jar.
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1+1/2 teaspoon baking soda

(I intended to add baking powder as well but then decided I didn't want the cookies to be puffy so I omitted it)

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large ripe bananas
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup broken pecans
1 cup A/P flour
1 cup thick rolled oats.

The mixture was insufficiently stiff so I added 1/4 flour and 1/4 cup oats.

Baked a short batch. The cookies were insufficiently sweet so I added 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 white sugar. This caused the cookies to be a little bit too sweet and less reliably removed from the Silpat. Silpat=silicone sheet that replaces parchment paper.

Oh! Cinnamon and allspice in small amounts.

Potato chips, crisps

I used one large russet potato. The potato is a starchy type.

Potato cut into a bowl of cold water. The water immediately turns cloudy which shows the surface starch on the slices is being removed. The slices will stick together and to your tools if you skip this step. That tells you not to use water if you're making a dish where you want the slices to stick. Sometimes starchy glue is good, here it's not. The potato was cut on a Japanese slicer which is the plastic version of a mandolin. It's a razor sharp tool and a bargain at a fraction of the cost. <-- See what I did there? You can see the thinness of the slices by the blue lines of the towel showing through. It's possible to get the potatoes too thin. A few test swipes will show the desired adjustment. Dried with another layer of kitchen towel, cooked in batches.

Cooked in that vegetable oil/lard combination used earlier for french fries at 325˚F / 160˚C until the bubbles stop. At that lower temperature the bubbles stop just before they turn golden. They float. You can see them turn crisp by turning them. They change to golden brown a few seconds after the bubbles stop. This gives you about one minute margin for error between not done enough to overly browned.

Salt straight out of the oil while vulnerable. If you wait too long, the salt bounces off. Presently I have only kosher salt which is flaky. I put a tablespoon of kosher salt into the coffee grinder to reduce the size of the crystal.

These are the best potato chips I've ever had. I do believe I have mastered the technique for potato chips, crisps if you prefer.

1) slice potato thinly into water then dry
2) cook in vegetable oil/lard combination.

Tossed green salad

Olive oil poured over the bowl. Rice vinegar sprinkled over the oil. Scant teaspoon of Dijon style mustard daubed in the center. Teaspoon honey drizzled over. Salt and Pepper. Swished and scraped and stirred and twirled and spread, and smooshed around, flicked, shoved around and coated the sides of the bowl. It's all about covering the bowl.

Add ingredients.

Toss ingredients.

Nick some real live honest to goodness aged at least two years, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese imported from the exotic far-away land of Parma where entire towns devote their full lives to producing their particular magical alchemy. Yay! *dances* Ciò mi fa così felice devo ballare. Grazie, Parma, grazie.

Cucumber and tuna roll

Rice made the usual way; rinsed, steamed in X 1.5 water to rice on low for 25 minutes, continuing for another 10 minutes off heat. This rice is truly weird. It's a different short grain rice, stickier, sweeter, starchier, puffier. I don't think I care for it although there's nothing specifically bad about it.

The thing is, this is just as good without the nori. I had extra tuna, rice, and cucumber so I didn't bother rolling it. Just ate it in separate piles. I'm such a slouch.

Lots of soy sauce to go with that wasabi. Incidentally, the wasabi is the real deal. It's not the American horseradish dyed green that even Japanese use, oh no, this is real wasabi turned to powder. Got it at the speciality spice store. I think you'll find it's much milder than the fake-o horseradish type, although if that's what you're used to then what the heck, go ahead and slum it. Just be aware there's another world of reality out there, another plateau of rarified existence.


Pork and vegetable mélange

This is a portion of pork roast that was cut into chunks and fried. I have a metric ton of this stuff in the freezer. Possibly eight or ten pounds or so. The chunks from this portion are too big. I have a large bowl full of finished fried chunks in the refrigerator that I go to time to time. They're perfectly fine eaten cold. Very paleo, wouldn't you say? The chunks were first dusted in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and a small amount of green curry. The curry is without name. It is the type sold from large jars in the spice section at Whole Foods. It's one of the best deals there. Although the cost seems phenomenal at first, priced by the pound as it is, you only actually buy about an ounce, two at most. So that turns out to be a couple of bucks. Much better than you can do otherwise at the spice store or from the grocery spice rack. The pork pieces in the refrigerator are cut again to smaller size before being included with the mixture.

So there's that.

The vegetables are what I'm presently long on. There's nothing more to it than that. Butter/olive oil, pepper flakes that I flaked myself from mixed bags of dried peppers snapped from a chile display at an Asian market. Odd, they are all South West American chiles. See? Asians love SW chiles too. I broke open each chile pod and dumped out the seeds before tearing them up into pieces. The mixture is quite hot so just a few flakes very powerfully affects every dish they're added. You do know the seeds are entirely inert. Try it sometime. Pick off all the connecting membrane to test. You'll find the seeds by themselves have no heat whatsoever. That's why I get rid of them. Plus you can plant the seeds. They'll grow too, if the chile pods have not been processed. It's fun! It is so amazing to buy a bag of dried chiles from the grocer, plant the seeds, and watch 'em grow. Although, if you plant bell pepper seeds you'll probably find the plants have been overly hybridized and even as they'll grow they will not produce fruit. So forget about bell peppers unless they're organic and from a source averse to modern genetically manipulated Frankenfoods. Like from a hippie farmer. I could trust that.

Purple onion
Garlic clove
Yellow bell pepper
Sweet snow peas

Lemon squeezed over all as if it were a salad.

No tomato, ay ay ay. This is a great meal for a lazy-ass bachelor such as myself.

French fries

Cooked in lard. That's right, I said it, lard. Per reader_iam's suggestion in the previous post, a combination of vegetable oil and lard. These are so filled with crispy goodness, the next time it'll be pure lard for supreme crispy goodness.

The bottom photo is four potatoes blanched in that vegetable oil / lard combination briefly until tender at 225˚F / 110˚C.

They were left to cool then deep-fried at 350˚F / 175˚C. Next time I'll let 'em go a little longer for extra extra supreme crispy. Mmmm, fluffy-tender inside, crispy outside, just like McDonald's used to be in the days of yore which preceded the days of the Fat Police.

3/4 of this batch is sealed in Seal-a-Meal™ air-suction device and frozen for later. Then, cooked in lard they'll really be filled with super-duper extreme tender-crispy goodness. That lard is really the way to go. I intend to filter it, put it in a jar, and use it again.

Oh! Almost forgot. A few drops of habanero sauce mixed with the catsup for extra intrigue.

Toast with tomato

Toast. Step 1: make bread.

This is 25% whole wheat milled from grain at home. The rest is A/P, the yeast is commercial. The bread is made with egg, butter, milk, all of which tend to inhibit rising. These extraneous ingredients that inhibit rising produce compressed loaves and fairly prevent the formation of large bubbles. It's not for everybody, but it's for me. I do love this stuff, dense as it is. I make it even more grainy by running a handful of wheat kernels through a coffee grinder to a coarse consistency. The mill's most coarse setting is too fine to suit me.

I do have a toaster but rarely use it. Takes up counter space and it toasts too thoroughly. That is, it dries out the bread completely through. Instead, I use a lavish amount of olive oil / butter mixture and fry the bread in a hot pan. It takes a little longer but then I can use the same pan to fry a few eggs.

Hothouse tomatoes with sea salt.

Dinner party

I was able to photograph a few things earlier in the day but after people arrived and the party started there was no time to concentrate on photographing food. Actually, there was quite a lot of food, a veritable feast. My technophile nephew did pick up the camera and shoot photos of the party but his interest was the camera, the computers, and people, not food. He did get a few shots of food as subject but those are of plates in process of assemblage and finished plates piled up as you can imagine but none of a clear full plate that conveys the whole shebang. Credit where it is due, the guy did a great job when you consider he never before used such a camera. The camera was already rigged with an 18-200 mm zoom lens mounted and my nephew managed it adeptly shooting on automatic before I even noticed what he was doing. So all those photos were taken without the advantage of manual setting and speedlights and are therefore marred with that high ISO grainy saturated weirdness. The photos are also saved in RAW so they're salvageable but I'm busy right now and I can't be arsked. Automatic. Hahaha, that kills me.

None of my nephews and nieces have the slightest interest in food that I can see. This is apparent by their many food-aversions and their hard and fast rejections. A little bit sad really. When a young person says flatly "I don't eat any seafood," without offering any support for that decision apart from the decision itself, my mind boggles and I feel a tinge of pity for the self-limitation. Otherwise they're rather creative.

The pie shell was made the old farmhouse way by rubbing cold fat into cold flour and adding ice-cold water by the tablespoon until it pulls together. It was rolled out on a cloth with a covered rolling pin, careful not to stretch. It contained 50% butter 25% lard 25% Crisco. It also contained lemon zest of two large lemons. Pre-baked, the extra was cut into tiny cookie squares. It was flaky and delicious. The pie contained a pile of tart fresh raspberries and piled with heavy whipped cream flavored with sugar and vanilla.

The rest of the food shots are the sequence of fasts feuilletée puff pastry shown here twice previously. Here, the processor was put to use to shred the freezing butter and the chilled cheese. The folds of the feuilletée pictured above were rolled out six times. That's excessive. It's probably only needs four.

There was a regretful lot of waste from this party. I could have got by with a lot less. A lot is stored too that will eventually be wasted also because there is simply no way to get around to it all and I don't want it here for long. Oh well, live and learn, eh?

French fries

These fries were blanched in boiling water for a mere minute, spun as a salad, dried and then fried. It was a test to see if something I saw on TV would work. The cook said blanching them in water arrests an enzyme (that goofs on the potato later) without over doing it on the precooking stage. Of course that can be done in either boiling water or in oil at a lower temperature. These fries were limp and lifeless. Not fluffy inside and not crunchy outside. So the worst of both undesirable french fry characteristics. Next time I'll boil them longer until more tender before giving up on the water pre-cooking method.


Did you know that in the days of yore pancakes mix did not come out of a box or pre-mixed from a can? Amazing, innit.

1 and 1/2 cups sifted A/P flour
3 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt, or 1 teaspoon of kosher salt

1 and 1/3 to 1 and 1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 to 3 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg

I used raspberry preserves, but honestly, any topping will work.

Potato cakes

Russet potato shredded in Cuisinart along with a clove of garlic. Rinsed. Boiled, nearly boiled that is, for one minute. Spun. That rids the potato of surface starch which I don't like and ends the enzymatic action going on in there. Some people want the surface starch to remain. I don't.

Diced onion held in a strainer in the hot water for about 30 seconds to shrink and remove the raw sting.

Two eggs, breadcrumbs, salt/pepper, cayenne pepper, Italian seasoning mixed in a bowl. Shredded potato with onion and garlic added to the mixture in the bowl, divided into patties and fried in olive oil / butter until browned. Delicious, I tell you, delicious.

Chicken breast pounded flat and fried.

Homemade mayonnaise with ginger and garlic with a tiny bit of sugar added. Cooked in a bowl over steaming water while stirring to 140° F / 60°C. I do stand there whisking with one of these

And watch the temperature rise. The mixture is already thick enough for a decent mayonnaise sauce but right at 135° F / 57° C ))) schwing ((( it suddenly goes much thicker all at once. That's what the commercial mayonnaise companies do. They use egg whites, which accounts for its lack of color, and cook it. That way the mayonnaise confidently be stored for much longer.

Iceberg lettuce

I haven't bought an iceberg lettuce since ... um ... ever. This is the lettuce I grew up with. My mum, bless her, put together the most depressingly unimaginative salads you ever saw. This lettuce, discs of sliced tomato, discs of sliced cucumber. That's it. Bottled salad dressings were kept in the refrigerator door. Setting the table in preparation for dinner meal involved grabbing all the bottles of salad dressing at once and carrying them by their necks clanging together like glass bells to the table. Everybody had their personal choice of dressing.

Then I forgot all about those childish ways.

Much later at a dinner party at a friend's house they did that -- collect a bunch of prepared bottled commercial dressings by their necks and brought them clanging to the table. I burst out laughing. "What's so funny?" Caught off guard, embarrassed, I couldn't answer. But it's still funny.

Now Althouse linked a story posted on NYT online by Mark Bittman, The Charms of the Loser Lettuces that included an attractive photo of iceberg. It looked great. Within the comments to the post on Althouse a member commenter, Paul, wrote sagely:
The reason Iceberg lettuce is such a good choice, in spite of being derided for a lack of nutrients in recent years, is that it is rich in intestinal flora and an aid to digestion. One more piece of traditional wisdom, albeit a small one, that the lefty boomers in their juvenile desire to remake and improve society tossed aside.


I did not make these, of course, but this day after Easter I had the most inexplicable and urgent craving for jellybeans and I sensed I could get them at a very good price. I tried not to overdo it.

Scallops and angel hair pasta

An unusual ingredient there, anchovy paste in a tube. I know about 20 people who would have objections to one ingredient or another in this simple dish. I dated a woman who couldn't have garlic. "Oh, don't put any garlic in mine. I'm serious. I'll have heartburn for days if you do. Leave it out please."

Gimme a break. Now I ask you, how am I to make a standup marinara without garlic? Puhleeze. 

"Waaaah, I don't like anchovies. My whole body breaks out in hives for two weeks every time I see one."

"Waaaah, I can't have Parmesan because I'm lactose intolerant and cheese gives me heart attacks whenever I get within five feet and then I have to be hospitalized for weeks on end in a tent with a respirator."

"Waaaah I can't do scallops because shellfish make me bleed out my bum requiring a full transfusion, and I don't like that."

"Waaaah, I can't eat pasta because gluten causes my throat to close up entirely and I can't breathe and EMT's have to come and perform an emergency tracheotomy on the spot."

Finicky eaters always turn up their noses at the best things to eat for the lamest reasons.

My parents wouldn't have it. Too much expense, time, and energy went into meal preparation for them to brook a table of fussy children. They insisted we at least try something. Everything.

"SHUT UP an eat it!"

"BECAUSE I SAID SO! That's why."

"STOP CRYING, or I'll give you something to cry about."

Such cogent reasoning, how could we refuse?

How I do recall fondly those gentle ministrations, that tender careful loving guidance.

But I'd like to talk about the way the sauce magically comes together so mysteriously. The thing is, butter is like sauce already that's waiting for you to help it along. It's open to several approaches including vino if you happen to have a little extra. In this case, I heat olive oil and butter in equal portions in a medium-size saucepan. Add garlic to flavor the oil careful not to toast or burn it. Then squeeze in less than a teaspoon of anchovy paste. It spatters. Mix it together. Now your fat is flavored and already it begins to thicken. Add black pepper, and red pepper flakes for kapow. Add the scallops. They release some liquid and the sauce is complete. Transfer the pasta dripping wet directly to the hot pan. The water has starch that sloughed from the pasta and sufficient salt for it to taste like sea-water. The starchy salty water is used to adjust the sauce after the pasta is added to the pan. It changes at hand there as it mingles, considerably more as cheese is added, and yet further as it cools, so the pasta water is reserved to adjust all that.  No additional salt is added  because the anchovies have their own intriguing fish/salt flavor, the Parmigiano is salty, and the pasta water is also salted. So right there you have your Federally Suggested Monthly Salt Requirement for a bull elephant -- adding more would be painting the lilly, innit, gilding the already golden, as it were. Reserve some Parmigiano to finish the plate.

It's a shame to cut up giant sea scallops like this but it is necessary for this angel hair pasta.

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