Cubed steak with rice

Leftovers. There's about twenty-eight pounds of this still left. Possibly two pounds. A lot. Rice is leftover too. Weirdest rice in the history of white rice. Sticky, pearly rice or something, although the package doesn't give a clue to it being different. It says only premium, but they all say that. From the Asian market, I hope I never accidentally buy it again. Maybe I can use it to make crackers.

The meat, could be a roast but treated earlier as a steak, was cubed and re-cooked here in leftover sauce, and man oh MAN is that sauce ever good. It totally salvaged pathetic leftovers. Elevated them to haute leftoverdom. It's like pan gravy except a lot better. I urge you to try this. Onion, or shallots and herbs of your choice cooked in the pan drippings, augmented with butter if necessary. Garlic added at the end so it doesn't burn. Red wine added and reduced by half. Then beef stock added and also reduced by half. Thicken lightly and judiciously if necessary. Strain. Behold: a gravy sauce like no other. I bet it could be sweetened with honey or with some kind of fruit. If I were to add fruit, then I'd buzz it with a blender. I hereby resolve, for now on it's gonna be sauces, Baby.

That means I'm going to have t keep fresh herbs around at all times, and make sure I always have both red and white wine on hand, along with heavy cream and coconut milk. Shallots, crème fraîche, and other saucy odds and ends like clarified butter. I sense this is going to take a bit of commitment.

I am going to make sauces for absolutely everything. All my food-related thinking will be thought in terms of sauces.

Beef and potatoes

Angus. I forget why I bought this. Maybe I intended to mix it with other things, lamb and pork and lots of spices especially mint, for an experimental gyros type roasted loaf. But then I got the idea to fry it and finish it under the broiler. Eh. It's okay.

Alas, for I am forlornly grill-less. They're not allowed where I live. Maybe I'll break the rules and get a hibachi then camouflage it when not in use. Use wood charcoal instead of briquettes. Drive my neighbors to the brink with its insanely alluring smoke. Make quick work out of it. Light the hibachi cook the meat, suffocate the coals reserving them for the next use. Bang. Hit-and-run- grilling. The next thing ya know petunias are innocently growing out of where the hibachi was.

My friend's brand new kitchen that he himself extended onto a huge old house on Capitol Hill was burned down right after he built it, by embers that flew off the balcony of an apartment in the high rise next to his property. The woman who rented the apartment was so distraught by causing the fire she took off to Florida unable to face consequences of the damage she caused. So I'm aware of the reasoning behind the city restriction. But honestly, there's nothing but stone and concrete surrounding my area. Except for the crap on people's balconies and that would be a public service to burn. And besides, my neighbors are always having parties where the smokers are banned to the balcony then they flick their cigarette butts off the balcony as if they would all automatically disappear, which they do disappear when a worker the next day goes around and sweeps them all up. It's an insane cycle of slovenliness. You can tell whence they come because the butts are in little piles under particular balconies. It's a matter of determining which floor. Not piles really, but nearly so. There'll be like fifteen Benson and Hedges all within a small area as if they couldn't even flick very far. Can you believe people still smoke? They do. I always thought that was a phase people went through until they finally wised up. My impulse is to gather them up myself and deliver the butts back to the offending balconies by slingshot. You know, have a bit of fun with the situation. Drive the point passive aggressively.

The meat was started on stovetop and finished under the broiler, just like the pros do. There's a reason for that. It makes it possible to more reliably get a nice sear on the outside and gentle pink to red center. I recommend it for steaks cooked indoors. It worked perfectly for this even though it's not a proper steak. My largest pan with a metal handle is too small for it all so I cooked this in two batches. Now I can graze on dead cow meat until it's gone.

The mashed potatoes were extra from a party I hosted a few weeks ago, frozen with the air sucked out in Meal Saver bags and reheated in the microwave.

But it's the sauce that made them delicious. I am totally getting my sauce act together. That's my favorite part of this, even above the angus although the sauce came from cooking the beef. Sweated chopped onion in the pan drippings along with a bay leaf and one garlic clove smashed and chopped. No salt or pepper because the oil was already flavored by the dry-rub that was put on the meat. One cup red wine reduced by half. I aimed for a thin sauce, but this was still too thin so I prepared slack of a scant 3/4 tablespoon flour and 1/2 cup beef stock.

Slack. That there's professional argot. I read it in a book! It means a dissolved slurry of flour, cornstarch, or arrowroot.

Then one cup beef stock reduced to desired consistency. Strained through the finest strainer I have.

I was going to finish with a little cream but I forgot.

Ya know what? I think I'm going to go ahead and have some more of those mashed potatoes with reduction sauce.

Denver Slow sourdough

There is no point to this sourdough starter. It will be discarded. It cannot be repaired. Or, repairing it is not worth the trouble compared with simply starting over. The benefit cannot outweigh the trouble.

Slow is what I named it, Denver Slow. Oh, I could have been a little more imaginative and named it

Denver Sluggish
Denver Adagio
Denver Andante
Denver Tardo
Denver Dilatory
Denver Ho-Hum
Denver Desultory
Denver Tardigrade
Denver Lentissimo
Denver Dawdle
Denver Laggard
Denver Tortoise
Denver Snail
Denver Ponderous
Denver Proreption
Denver Spanopnoea
Denver Lentamente
Denver Turtle Foot
Denver Largo
Denver Downshift
Denver Longanimous
Denver Torpor
Denver Languid
Denver Stupor
Denver Mind Numb
Denver Galacial Age
Denver Languid

You get the idea, it's s---l---o---w. Slow enough for you to run errands in between proofs ... if those errands are in another state. Slow enough to take a trip ... to another planet. Slow enough to gestate a baby ... if you mated with an African elephant. Slow enough to plant a crop and reap the harvest ... of Coast Redwood Sequoias.

I don't much care for that. But the good thing about it is that it has huge margins for error and carelessness. You can really goof around and it won't be bothered. This is going to work, if I live long enough. I don't even know why I'm doing this, except I liked the wind, I don't even need any bread right now. I already have more than I can eat. I do this for fun. And to see. And to play with dough. That's all.

When last we looked at this I was complaining about it taking so long to double. It looked like this.

Notice the top of the sponge is below the top of the circle on the glass. Hours after that photo was taken, several hours, I forget how many, but a long time, It continued to rise up to the circle. This impressed me. Since I was ignoring it by then I didn't notice when it peaked and fell back. However long it was, that was the signal to do something with it. If you recall, at this point the starter contains a measured cup of water and however much flour it takes to make a thick slurry, about a cup and 1/4 or so. When it fell back it looked like this ↓ but it left traces on the glass at the level at which it peaked and I marked that on the photo with a white arrow.

You can see that the sponge rose to the top of the circle, more than double the original height. Not bad actually, slow, but a respectable rise there. Can't really complain.

I doubled the liquid by adding a full cup of water along with enough flour to form a stiff ball. Bakers usually keep the sponge wet but I decided it would be more fun to watch it this way instead. At this point, refreshed, it now contains two cups of water and about 3.5 cups of white AP flour.

It proofed at length, over twelve hours, and doubled again.

I admit to neglecting it. I had to pick up a friend at the airport ... Orley, Paris, then drive him across the country to Spain and make it back in time for SouthPark. Okay, I probably made that up. At any rate, after it proofed again at a pace all it's own, and when I finally did get around to it after doing a bunch of other things, the starter looked like this ↓. Still containing only two cups of water, and sufficient flour to become this. You see it's no longer a ball. In fact it became quite wet all on its own.

I reserved a tablespoon out of habit, not out of dire need to keep this starter going. A piece is pinched off at this point because it contains nothing but flour/water/culture. If I waited, then the dough would contain a bunch of other things that I do not want sitting around in the refrigerator for long, eggs, milk, fat, etc. The tablespoon of reserved starter has fresh flour worked into it to stiffen it and to hold it over for a prolonged period of cold storage and so it doesn't go all gooey inside the bag. The starter is at peak of performance with maximum organisms having wild and crazy uninhibited sex in there, and now this small portion must go into slumber.

The bag is labeled so I can tell the the starters apart. I haven't counted but I have starters all over the place in various forms, dry, frozen, refrigerated. I collect them wherever I go. People think I'm weird but apparently find this amusing. They all do enable this eccentricity. Besides, they get bread out of the odd practice, in which they were a part. Sometimes I let them name it.

It's time to make bread with the bulk of the starter. The liquid portion will be doubled again. For the pure simplicity of the most basic of breads, only water, white AP flour, and salt would be added. But I tire of pure basic simplicity. I want to fortify this bread, challenge its yeast, enhance its bacteria. I'll stick with two cups of liquid, but I'll make that liquid things other than water; butter, olive oil, eggs, and milk instead. In fact, no more water at all. It already has two cups, that should be enough. Mind, this is now four measured cups of liquid.

It's going to be a little bit like brioche, innit. Some people object to adding eggs to a dough that will proof for two days. I have no such reservations. Pathogens? Bring it. I'll bake your little asses, on HIGH.

I love it when a plan comes together like this. 50% ordinary starter, 50% combination of milk, eggs, butter, olive oil, whole wheat flour, refined white AP flour, kosher salt. What a glorious mess it is.

Boy, I'm really have'n fun now!

Sorry. When I noticed how similar the five photos were I couldn't help but animate them. I know, I know, grow up.


With the top off, the dough was flinging all over the place. Ha ha ha ha ha. I had to have the top off to photograph it. There are little bits flung all around. Wahoo!

Smooth as a baby's bum. You can always tell when a dough will work. I pinch off a little, play with it. Stretch it out to maximum. Do a window pane test. Roll it back. Squish it. Test its bounciness. When the dough isn't going to work, it's just dead. Dead dough. When that happens you might as well just throw it out. Or you can add commercial yeast and salvage it. I did that once.

I'll let this proof again just a little bit, then it's time for it to sleep in the refrigerator. I won't bother with it again for at least two days. See ya then, Pal. It's been fun.


With purple sauce! I invented that. My original idea was to add blueberries but when I went for the blueberries I saw the mangos, so mangos and blueberries it is. See how easily distracted I am?

For the sauce: butter in a sauce pot. Seasoned. Heated the seasoning through with the butter. This fat is what will carry the flavor throughout the sauce, otherwise it'll be discrete flavor patches, molecularly speaking. Add wine. Reduce by at least half. Add veal demi-glace. Oh God, I don't have any veal demi-glace. I don't even know what it is. I'm stuck. I don't know what to do. Kill myself.


Kidding. Reduce beef stock to 1/3, or deglaze the pan that the bison was cooked in and reduce that. Use chicken stock, water, whatever you've got. Saki. Cool Aid. Pepsi. 7-Up. Fish tank water. Okay, maybe not that last one.

Toss in some mangos and blueberries, or whatever you have. Oranges sound nice. Mushrooms, tomato, peas, apple. I'd try anything and then claim I intended it. Blend with immersion blender. My original idea was to run it all through a fine mesh but the blender was so thorough that a sieve would have been superfluous, it would be like to gild refined gold, to paint the lily, to throw a perfume on the violet, to smooth the ice, or add another hue unto the rainbow, or with a taper-light to seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish, is wasteful and ridiculous excess. Or something. As some guy once said. The Life and Death of King John, if memory serves, act IV, scene II, through the mouth of some guy named Salisbury, who was probably named after a steak, and you have to admit the guy who wrote all that sure did have a way with words.

Back to the sauce, finish with heavy whipping cream. The purple color is from the red wine and the blueberries. It's so good I want to drink the rest. I probably will.

Lookie, the bison is 96% lean. That's outrageous! I'm trying really hard not hold that against it. They do need to be fattened up a little, these bison. What are they doing to the poor things, starving them or what? I added olive oil. To hold in the oil, I also added my own sourdough bead crumbs. Then I go, "You know what? This is kind of like a meatloaf." So I added meat loaf things, egg, Worcestershire sauce. I ground up two bay leaves to powder along with about 25 peppercorns. (I fixed my coffee grinder with liquid nails, so now it works again for grinding) I noticed mint in the refrigerator so I used that too, along with all the remaining packaged fresh thyme. See? I'm clearing out the fridge and putting it all in my bison patties.

I browned diced onion so that it would shrink now and not later, along with garlic in all of the oil intended to enrich the bison.

The spinach is just frozen packaged but it was dolled up with extravagantly aged Balsamic, which wasn't the best choice -- insufficiently acidic.

Parmigiano flecks.

Whoever comes to my house becomes part of the experiment like this. When we're done with our damage we sit down and pick it all apart discussing our likes and dislikes, successes and failures, always with the aim of improvement. It's fun. If I had kids, they would totally participate. I used to have a dog who would sit there the whole time I was cooking something but she was mostly looking for a handout. She was interested in anything, even a grape. At first she just sniffed the grape, but then I put one between her teeth then gently clamped her muzzle on it so it smashed open and squirted in her mouth. Her eyes lit up like, "WOW!" After that, she loved eating grapes one at a time. She wasn't allowed in the kitchen so I'd roll one over to her and she'd sit there and wait for the grape to reach her. It was very amusing. I think grapes are bad for dogs, but I'm not sure. I do know that my dog loved being part of the whole cooking show even though all she could do was watch.

Wind (and sourdough starter)

A bildungsroman, a roman à clef, a coming-of-age tale, as it were, of a boy and his ongoing relationship with wind.

 The wind is alive. 

Written in Egyptian hieroglyphs the word for wind is "djah."

The word for breath is "tjaw". The two words are nearly identical. Actually, this sign is used interchangeably for both wind and breath with no loss of meaning.

You'll notice a sail is used to write both words, in the first as a determinative, a sign that tells you what the sound in front of it refers to, (djah can mean more than one thing, just as English has homonyms) and the second as a phonogram, a sign used for its vocalized sound value. The point is, "breath" and "wind" are both conceptualized and written with a boat's sail, referring to the very life's blood of the country that follows the contours of the river Nile.

A good wind always gets me excited. I do love wind. As a boy I'd open up my jacket and hold onto the corners to form wings then lean directly into the wind on my toes as far as I could go without falling forward. I wanted to fly, and that came pretty darn close. I flew kites all the time. Busted them up recklessly. Repaired them. Learned what worked and what didn't work, and why. Made my own kites from the pieces. Bought balsa sticks and tissue paper to design new kites. Painted them outrageous colors, gave them glorious extravagant stabilizing tails. My dad gave me a bolt of string and in my world that was equal to gold. I was intent on using the whole bolt. (I learned that doesn't work, the weight of the string pulls down the kite, but it sure was fun trying.) Attached a camera to one and took pictures of the grounds. I imagined flying strapped to a kite. I wanted to have kite wings. A box kite I made wouldn't lift without a good strong wind, so when one came up, there I was out flying my box kite. This was at an American housing area attached to a huge air base on the outskirts of Tokyo. I saw my father come charging straight at me mad as a bull. I nearly pissed myself, he was a bracing sight in his scary military uniform. He grabbed my arm and nearly yanked it off, berating me all the way back to the house.

"What's wrong with you? You've got to be watched every second! Don't you have any sense in your head? This is a TYPHOON you idiot! Get your little ass inside and STAY THERE!

How was I supposed to know the wind was a typhoon? Do I look like a meteorologist? This man simply did not appreciate the joy and wonder of kites. The storm intensified. That night was truly frightening. The whole house rattled. Our house was huge and brick but nonetheless we were kept awake hearing it being torn apart. We heard trees crash. The next morning my dad took me outside to assess the damage. The cars were crushed. Check that. Some cars were crushed. Had the tree been uprooted in the opposite direction, which is entirely plausible because typhoons being circular do indeed change directions by 180˚ as the storm passes, our car would have been smashed. As it was, it turned out to be the most fabulous bouncy playground. To a boy, it's all adventure and lark. He pointed out the heavy curved red clay roof shingles that were flung like frisbees and dug into the ground so deeply I couldn't even pull them out. My dad goes, "That could have been your HEAD you little dumb ass."

Fine. Point taken already. Sheesh.

But I still wanted desperately to fly. Not in an airplane, that's nothing. That's like a car with wings. That's instrumentation. Technology shielding the elements. Everybody does that. I want to fly like a bird, to actually feel the wind. So I took hang gliding lessons. 

The very first lesson we removed the gliders from their mylar bags and assembled the cables and aluminum tubes, inserted the battens to stiffen the wings. I couldn't believe I was actually touching a kite that would eventually fly me. Next we held our assembled gliders as if they were kites and we were instructed to tilt them into the wind. This very first day we were actually flying hang gliders as kites. At the moment the wind flows over the wings the kite suddenly becomes weightless and begins to fly as it takes a life of its own and tugs furiously and feels exactly like a horse pulling impatiently on reigns with varying intensities of the wind lifting it. In this one feels the wind is definitely alive, and one tunes to its personality. 

Then I bought a hang glider and continued with advanced lessons. I loved every second of the sport from the very first moment. It was just my sort of thing, a perfect fit. But I do have this to say about all of that; the steep loose shale-strewn slopes dotted with cactus and yucca might not be the ideal places to learn hang gliding for a guy whose learning curve amounts basically to a series of low altitude crashes. Perhaps gently sloping cushioned grassy knolls of Tennessee would be a better place to learn. I'm imagining.

Now wind automatically makes me think of bread yeast. I hate to have a good wind go to waste. I naturally think of a flour slurry sitting out there with the wind shoving microorganisms directly into it, driving them beyond the surface where they find themselves immersed within the ideal environment and do what microorganisms are made to do -- thrive.

I've determined through experimentation some winds are yeastier than others. The winds of Maui are fantastically yeasty on any day. The winds of Colorado, less so. Some winds are, some are not. One hot Colorado summer day my slurry was bubbling by itself within just a few hours while still outside collecting. It was so hot and dry outside the surface of the slurry tended to harden within just a few minutes so I kept spraying water then finally pouring water over the surface, I figured the organisms could swim or wiggle or float down on their own to the slurry. I got tired of all that within a few hours and brought it in. When I stirred it, took a teaspoon sample and inoculated a fresh water and flour slurry, a mere 1/4 cup, it exploded into immediate growth. It was a very powerful starter. The same was true for a cold winter day when the opposite problem of keeping the slurry from freezing had to be tended. In that case, over a longer collection period, the resulting starter was the sturdiest, fastest starter I ever collected. I'm imagining the harshness of the cold culled the weaker organisms so that only the most indestructible survived. When they finally contacted ideal circumstance they got to thriving like nobody's business. That particular starter, the one collected in a freezing wind, was so sturdy, the dough made from it was positively immune to cold storage. As bread dough it continued to rise in the refrigerator throughout its retardation period intended for fermentation. When brought out again to room temperature POW! It took off again. I love that starter. It impresses me mightily. Still have it. It's presently arrested in stasis in the refrigerator, and I sure hope it revives whenever I get around to it again.

Steady gusts from some un-yeasty place at some un-yeasty time do not necessarily all carry the same type or number of organisms. This is my conclusion following much experimentation. This starter pictured here was collected over a period of some six hours during a high gusty wind. There were tiny bubbles apparent when it was brought in. The full amount of slurry was stiffened with additional flour. At that point new organisms are introduced from the flour it was being fed. There are two sets of organisms here: those organisms already on the flour that made the slurry and that later stiffened the slurry, and those that are blowing around in the atmosphere. I'm imagining these two sets duking it out. I'm counting on the wind to assure the atmospheric organisms outnumber the flour-carried organisms. I'm imagining a conflict between these two sets of organisms for their environment. I'm further imagining some organisms within the sets will amalgamate and others will not. IT'S WAR!

This slurry wasn't just brought in and left to its own resources. I gave it heat. I carefully monitored that heat -- a photographer's light with a kitchen towel tent. A proofing tent! I let it go beyond the customary 12 to 24 hours, this collection had a full 48 hours of lamp heat. It was bubbling away nicely at that point. Then I sampled it, a full half a cup added to another half cup of fresh slurry. It languished. Lazy @ss Ψϖς#%&ξΓΞing slurry. Another full 24 hours at room temperature and barely any rise. Activity, yes, but hardly any rise at all. This is clearly a weak collection. One that almost cries for heat, but I'm not giving it.

In the meantime another wind has arrived. I think of collecting again but I already have this one working. What am I, crazy?

After a day I feed the collection again. It's not going that great at that point. This time instead of a slurry, which is a little easier, uses less flour therefore introduces less non-wind organisms, I decide on a stiffer substance, closer to dough but still sticky. The organisms do best in a loose wet mixture. This is counter to what works best.

I kept the jar near me like a pet so I could keep an eye on it and observe its progress. Look at it.

Poor pathetic thing. I got no respect for it. It did double, but it took a full 24 hours. The rubber band is the starting line. A healthy, sturdy, interesting culture could have done that in less than 8 hours. There is still hope for it, I will use this culture, but I doubt that I'll keep it. Who needs a culture that has to be babied like this, or takes so freaking long? Due to its inherent slowness, I'm not even certain it's an atmospheric culture anyway, one that can be directly connected to Denver. It could just as easily be flour-related culture, since it took so long to get going, not that I'm prejudiced towards places of origin or nuth'n, but if I label a culture "Denver" it had best be pure Denver, or at least mostly Denver and not some unknown wheat field in some unspecified state. This culture can not be more than a stepchild culture to all those other cultures I have stored that themselves are neglected because I'm constantly doing this kind of thing just because there is a good strong wind shaking up things.

Chicken thighs with cherry sauce

It's Shake-n-Bake en aaah hay-yelped! No seriously. I'm a little bit tired of messing up bowls all the time so I dug out a plastic grocery bag making sure it didn't have holes in it as so many of them do. Put in a few tablespoons of flour and seasoning and gave it a toss.

Bell & Evans chicken thighs. Saw them sitting there in the cooler and couldn't resist. Threw 'em in the basket. They're wonderful. Small, but wonderful.

I don't know why I added cherries to the sauce and a banana to the plate. It's weird. I must be pregnant.

The sauce is a wine reduction. You know what? Butter and wine go together really well. A little seasoning, a little chicken stock, and there it is, sauce. I reduced those things wine, then chicken stock one after the other while the chicken fried in another pan. When the chicken was done, I poured the buttery seasoned wine and stock reduction into the chicken pan and picked up all the browned-on sticky bits, the fond, crunchy little nuggets of fried nearly burnt chickeny goodness. If I were a chef, I would run all that through a fine sieve, but I'm not a chef, so I just slum it with all those not-quite-dissolved chunks floating around, most unrefined, incredibly rough and devoid of nuance. Real cowboy like.

Crackers, olive oil, rosemary, Parmigiano

first tray

second tray

Went a little overboard there with the scoring.

I did not eat these. They're to be given away tomorrow. Here's the thing; I've been making a lot of crackers lately, honing my mad cracker-making skillz. I've searched all over the internet for ideas ... Okay FINE! ... I searched the first ten pages of images and clicked on a few. Saw that they all say pretty much the same thing, didn't see anything at all unusual. Doesn't anybody have any unique ideas out there? Come ON. So I thought maybe I could find a book, perhaps on Amazon. There is one, plus a bunch of things with "crackers" in the title that have nothing at all to do with proper crackers. The one book that fit the criterion was a thin little thing in paperback, available used, priced at nearly $20.00 plus shipping. Probably doesn't have any pictures and it doesn't even pop-up.


That's too much. $23.00 ÷ 167 pages = 13.7¢ per page. This violates my used-book cost protocol that I just now made up.

Just buy it. No, don't buy it. Buy it. No, don't buy it. BUY IT! NO!

Back and forth I go like that.

I live two blocks from the main library. The book is not in their catalog so back and forth I go again with the buy/don't buy debate inside my head tearing me apart. I notice the bookseller at the top of the list is a few miles from where I live. I write to Dream Books:

Hello. I have a question about a paperback book you're offering for 19.00 (plus 4.00 shipping)

Crackers!: Fun, Easy Recipes for Baking Delicious Crackers, Linda Foust, Tony Hursch

ISBN-10 0936067160
ISBN-13 978-0936067162

167 pages.

I've been making a lot of delicious crackers and that caused me to become interested in looking at this book. I live 2 blocks south of Denver Public Library, but alas, they don't have this book in their catalog. I could order this easily enough online but $23.00 seems kind of steep for 167 pages. See the problem? A quick cost analysis shows nearly 14¢ a page for crackers. No offense intended, I do believe I can do as well online. It's a matter of curiosity as to the content of the book. My question is, would you consider selling the book for $10.00?

While you're deciding, would you like to see my crackers? Here, and here, and here and here

Thank you for considering my question.


Dream Books writes back:

Hi Bo,

Thank you for your email. We have a brick and mortar bookstore on 410 W. Hampden Ave. Englewood, CO 80110. This is about 10-15 minutes from your home. If you are interested in picking it up, I can take the shipping cost off. But if you are really interested in buying the book for $10, I will be willing to cut the $9 off for some of your homemade crackers (which looks delicious). Please let me know if any of my propositions sound interesting to you so I can arrange the book to be moved over from our warehouse to the bookstore or just shipped to your house.

David Chung

Dream Books Company, LLC
P.O. Box 440530
Aurora, CO 80044-0530

Bless their hearts. It's on, Baby. I confirm:


Yes. I'm am interested in visiting your bookstore in Englewood. I can visualize the storefront's location. I understand I am to bring crackers that I made myself in order to obtain a $9.00 discount. May I assume usual business hours? Please expect me tomorrow, Tuesday 5/24.

Cheers, Bo

The crackers I made yesterday will not do. Too overpoweringly seasoned for this sort of thing. Oh no, they will not do at all. Although I find them irresistibly delicious I'm aware not everybody will. Therefore I whipped out this batch which are more universally acceptable, and oh my GOD are they ever good, such a nice balance of flavors there

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup A/P flour
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 level teaspoon baking powder
2 oz. shredded Parmigiano (the real stuff)
1 cup water


S/P ground together
rosemary crushed.

400℉ / 200℃ for thirteen minutes

Designer crackers

rough dough (two processor batches)

dough lightly kneaded

first tray

first tray, scored

second tray, scored

De-zig-ner crackers. Yay!

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup corn meal
1 cup semolina
2 cups A/P flour
(Thereabouts, honestly, I lost track exactly a little bit. You see, I started out thinking 1/2 cup corn and semolina each, then changed midstream, as it were, to 3/4 each and then changed it again, which produced an overly granular dough, that was changed again, but by then I had too much for the processor so it was divided in two and adjusted separately. Separately, but equally. The method to this madness becomes clear below. I think. )

4 oz butter
3/4 cup olive oil
2 Cups water
1 tablespoon kosher flake salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Toppings, nearly everything I could think of. I ground all the fennel seeds I have, I ground a large quantity of rosemary. Three types of prepared curries, three types of chile powders. Tellicherry peppercorns, Burgundy sea salt. Wasabi.

I made two trays with stripes, pictured. They're a total pain in the butt, and ultimately not worth it. Used card stock paper as templates. Painted the dough with water so the spices would stick. the card stock kept sticking too. Takes too long. Then five trays of unstriped various mixed spices. I overbaked one tray, the fennel tray I believe, and tossed it. So that's six trays of crackers total. 

You know what? That tray of the wasabi was disappointing. I did my best to cover the surface evenly without overdoing it and in the end the wasabi cannot even be detect. I used the commercial fake-o horseradish wasabi, not the spice shop real-deal wasabi because the commercial is stronger and a bit harsher, perfect for floury crackers. Flour is like a black hole of flavor, except when it's whole-wheat flour that you mill at home and in that case contains every particle of the whole grain in its 100% whole wheat goodness, and not reconstructed to varying degrees from its various separated milled components. 

Flour needs a lot of help. But here it already has a lot of help, 100% true whole wheat directly from grain, corn directly from kernels. I mean, come on. So there I was sprinkling on the harsher wasabi thinking to myself, "Don't ruin this tray by making them inedible." Although I do like that POW right up your nose effect that you get with wasabi, but that's only once in awhile, very rarely, not a whole tray of crackers. The green splotches can be clearly seen so you know when you're getting a wasabi cracker and the brain prepares for a kick and then there is none. That makes me sad. It forces me to add more next time and then I'll be right back at running the risk of going too far. Again.

Conclusion: designer crackers striped with colored spices have no place in the modern busy kitchen. *looks around* Wut? The whole varieties are better. All of them are fun, but the intensely flavored striped ones are going way too far. Off the deep end. Beyond the radar. Over the cliff. Out in the wild blue yonder. Lost in the woods. Crossed over the line. Beyond redemption.  Wouldn't want a whole box of those. After making the striped trays, making the non-striped trays was much more fun and fast and 600% easier. Plus they would find much broader acceptance if I ever brought myself to share. 

Milled corn and eggs

I had a substantial amount of popcorn purchased at the grocery store. I noticed some of the kernels were changing color to black. The whole lot looked exceedingly shrunken, wrinkled, and desiccated. So I sorted out the darkened kernels and those that appeared to be turning, and milled it. The odor coming up from the mill was quite pleasant. I heated spices in butter; unspecified curry, garlic powder, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, sea salt, black peppercorn, I did go a little bit overboard there, then added chicken stock and water, then enough milled corn in increments while stirring to thicken. Shredded Parmigiano to finish. It is wonderful wonderful wonderful (three wonderfuls). Why something like this isn't on the menus across the land is beyond me.

My nephew and I were talking about a dinner he attended here at my house. Somewhere within the discussion I mentioned something like this using the descriptor "grits" instead of polenta or milled popcorn. He goes, "I ate grits? No way, because I don't eat grits." Ha ha ha ha. See? People make up their minds about things, and following that they are utterly impenetrable. Apparently he had grits one way, formed a scarcely informed opinion, and dismissed the whole world of milled corn.

Compared to packaged corn meal, the milled corn kernels are richer in flavor, and nutrients but tend to stale quickly due to the oils and other substances in the germ. For that reason at home the cornmeal is refrigerated, frozen, actually. In the past, grits were made of hominy processed in alkali but that is now rare. Hominy being usually white whole corn kernels cooked for about thirty minutes in a solution of lime or lye then washed of their hulls and excess alkaline solution.

Here, I used the mill because my coffee grinder is worn out. My sister pushed it to the limit one night under my direction. I failed to tell her not to overload it. Now the blade slips. Don't worry. It's under repair right now setting up with liquid nails. I'll see if that works, and if it doesn't work I'll just get another one. They're cheap as hell on Amazon.

Ceviche as sashimi

Ceviche as sashimi, it is but it isn't. I invented this. Purists would be appalled. But I don't care about purists, I'm not serving them, I do not seek their approval. I did this for myself. Real wasabi, and there's a definite difference. The rice is flavored with utterly un-Asian additives namely fennel seed to compliment the fresh fennel added to the ceviche liquid, another ingredient completely outre. I loved this, wasabi picked up with the fish bit by bit, each bite differing in intensity, some dipped in soy, some not, rice picked up with wasabi here and there, dipped here and there, picked up along with a piece of fish sometimes and sometimes not. Variety in mouthfuls, that's what I say.


No. I'd starve.

Maytag blue cheese and crackers

My crackers, my delicious hand-rolled crackers and flavored to my heart's contentment. They didn't come from a company. They weren't made by a gigantic cracker-making machine. They were not marketed. They saw no transportation as crackers. They were never shelved nor scanned. Saw no middlle-men. From ingredients that I controlled. This is my new thing cracker teim.

Chicken thighs with mushrooms

With mushrooms, orange bell pepper, broccoli. All these things were fried in the same pan starting with the chicken thighs. Removed to a separate plate while the sauce was prepared then assembled on a second plate.

Sauce: pan deglazed with red wine. Augmented with chicken stock. Cold butter stirred in. I have a small bowl of salt/pepper/cayenne that I used for the crackers, so that went into the sauce along with 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon generic curry from Whole Foods spice bulk.

Ceviche and crackers

I guess it's not possible for me to make this in small amount. I get carried away at the fish counter then POW I end up with gallons. I have no judgement, it all seems so reasonable at the purchasing stage. Diluted with water, eight limes was insufficient acid for this amount. The next morning the pieces were barely transformed, as pictured above, the tuna still red, the shrimp little changed. I added three more limes and three lemons then put the pressure on. Now it's all vacuum sealed in wide-mouth quart size mason jars. There are six of them. I left one open with no pressure so I can get to it.

The crackers were made just for this. I'm getting really good at cracker making. This batch has a bag of processed mass-produced pre-shredded cheese I desperately needed to get rid of (It was purchased a month ago for something else but never used). I learned to make the dough on the wet side. It rolls out much more easily and it doesn't affect the result. I prepared crushed black pepper, sea-salt, coriander, and cayenne pepper and sprinkled it over the rolled out dough. Pressed it in. Nice touches, all of that, the cheese and the spices. These crackers are addictive. I'm well on my way to mastering the art of designer crackers. I intend to make boxes of them and bring them as little food-offerings to other people's parties.

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