Ground top round burger, fried potato

Bunless burger. Ground top round. Homemade mayonnaise. Special mayonnaise made with extra stone-ground mustard, real rustic like, and honey too, mountain wild flower honey where the bees have to work extra hard because those mountain flowers are more varied and more spread out than regular orchard flowers, and they're smaller than regular flowers so they produce less pollen. Mmmmm, bee vomit and bee sweat. Probably bee tears too. They're crying about their own awareness of their abject slavery and their deplorable living conditions, about the futility of working steadily for the collective just to have it all scooped away by some grotesquely costumed human apiarist. But to persist for a season until finally their torn tattered wings can no longer lift and they drop like a stone to the ground and buzz there helplessly until the sun dries them out or a bird comes along and devours them with  a swift peck and a gulp. 

Quit complaining and get my honey, Bitches.

I ground up a decent size top round steak using this thing ↓. Another animal gave its all for my burgers, and other peoples' steaks and roasts. Another example of animal exploitation. Oddly, I do not find grinding meat to be macabre at all. It's actually fun.

If you make a little dimple in your burger then it won't compress so badly as it cooks, and if you add a little water it will 1) hasten cooking by steam, and 2) help keep the burger moist. Wine or beer, any alcohol, while moisteners are also fantastic distributors of flavor. So what more excuse reason do you need to pop open a beer  while you're grinding your roasts?

Potato cooked in the microwave for five minutes. Cut while still hot. Fried in olive oil / butter seasoned with fresh Rosemary for a rustic outdoorsy pine-tree touch. The hamburger was cooked in that same flavored oil since it has so little fat of its own. 

Mango paletas

Know why they're called paletas? Huh? Do ya? They're named after the wooden sticks. The word actually means 'trowel.' Palilo is the word for stick. The English cognitive is pallet.

4 large just right mangos, not too hard and not too soft. 
1 lime
1/3 cup sugar

Blended the living hell out of those mangos. Made nine paletas. 

Mangos are a gamble. They can also be a bit of a drag to peel. I found a way to peel them that I believe works best. As you know, mangos have at their center a pit in the shape of a disc. That pit disc is aligned with a crease that is apparent at the stem. I slide a blade down the center with a slight bias to one side skidding the blade along the flat edge of the pit. Once you cut into the mango, you can feel the pit inside there and then determine by what you feel through the knife how close to pit  to continue with the cut.  The downward slice has a bend to it like this, ) .  Then do that with the other side. The result is two halves, one slightly larger than the other and a mango disc with a remnant stem and a pit in the center. I trim the remaining  useable mango from the pit disc. HATE wasting it.  One ends up with two narrow strips of mango with the skin still on. Laying those two strips skin-side down, the blade is slid across the top of the skin below the fruit separating them. Now there is a naked pit, two naked strips of fruit, and two naked strips of skin along with the two mango halves with the skin still on.  That is the key to the rest of the mango. Slice the two remaining mango halves into similar strips. These mangos halves here were sliced into four strips each. Each individual strip is skinned the as the thin strips from the disc. 

I gave away my mango paletas before I even tasted them. Daring, I know, but I've become just that arrogant -- certain in the knowledge they would be delicious, and they are. 

Poached eggs, hash brown potatoes

I wonder why vegetables are not more popular for breakfasts. This confounds me. Doesn't this look delicious? 

All of the celebrity chefs concur that Italian parsley tastes better than regular curly parsley, so that is what we see them use exclusively. This is the giant version of Italian parsley, and frankly, I find it to be too bitter. Me no likey bitter. So that does it! After this batch I'm switching to regular parsley. 

I tried something different this time with the potatoes. One potato, smallish for an Idaho Russet type, peeled then grated with a box grater directly into the sink filled 1/3 with cold water. The water clouded making visible the surface starch removed. Collected and pressed through a strainer then dumped into a bowl with seasoned melted butter and olive oil, along with half a white onion. 

So there's that.

The eggs were cracked into a ramekin and held while a small pan of water was brought to a boil. The same small pan that would fry an egg. The smallest pan. The water in the pan contained a lot of salt for that amount of water, probably one half teaspoon of kosher salt flakes, along with more cider vinegar than you might imagine, possibly up to two tablespoons. Those two things are necessary to hold together the albumen. Without salt AND vinegar, the egg white will spread throughout the water like a spreading maniacal egg white Bedouin that has completely lost all direction in life. No, wait, wait, wait. Spreadier than that. Without salt AND vinegar the egg white spreads like Paris Hilton spreads in 1 Night in Paris, a total mess. Dropped into acidulated brine like this, the white so tightens, in fact, apparently appalled at the hostile environment and recoiled in horror, that the egg white resists cooking through. Obviously, in simmering water the cooking temperature can not exceed 212℉ / 100℃, that is the whole point, even less at a mile altitude, 200℉ / 94℃. Cooking can be hastened then by spooning the simmering water over the white, in this case as above ↑ avoiding the yolk. For ART!

[Poached eggs can be lifted with a slotted spoon and transferred to a bowl of cold water to hold for hours. The salted vinegar water can be reused for poaching more eggs. (Alternately, a greater quantity of eggs can be poached thusly in the oven within a bain Marie.) For serving, the eggs can be gently reheated by lifting into hot water for a few seconds and -- BANG! --there it is, a dozen or more poached eggs all at once. Were you to pull this off for a brunch, you will be showered with accolades, elevated to hero status on the spot and paraded around on the shoulders of your peers, amongst much clamor and celebration. So be ready for all that.]

French toast, chicken thighs

Finally, the remainder of that bread which was a light whole-wheat, probably 25% and leavened with commercial yeast then baked in a Pullman pan the ordinary way in the span of a few hours. I probably added honey because it sure was unusually good for ordinary bread.  It had been stored in the refrigerator concurrently with newer Maui bread, and to bread purists that is a crime against bread, but I live in a near desert and the refrigerator is the best I can do. It is gone now and that makes me sad but I am cheered by the certain knowledge that I can make more at any time I choose. Commercial yeast is just that flexible compared with sourdough starter which takes longer by days. 

Alas, for I am presently milkless. Therefore, wine is used instead to loosen this egg mixture, a nice light white California Zinfandel, which is really pink, those California winery people must learn their colors. 

Four tiny Bell & Evans chicken thighs, the last of the package. Fried quickly in the pan that French toast was fried, a cleanup savings of one pan. 

Maple syrup, the processed sap of trees, not the caramel-colored corn-syrup in imitation of maple syrup that is marketed for children and other people who know no better, and that is a real crime against humanity. How dare they. 1) It teaches from childhood that food substitutions under the aegis of commerce are acceptable. And,  2) It makes the little darlings fat while simultaneously hooking them on cheap sugar and generally wreaking havoc on their health. It could be decades before they realize they've been hornswoggled all along and that something else much better is available. 

Salad, chicken thighs

Behold, the last of the Grana Padano. *sads*  The bread is old but too delicious to  toss unceremoniously. It was oiled and fried into croutons which brought it back to life. Come to think of it, the remaining bread is in the perfect state to use for French toast. I might do that.  

Bell & Evans chicken thighs pounded flat then fried in the same pan -- a cleanup savings of one pan. 

Oh, H - E - double apple sticks! I put my own mayonnaise in a ramekin to photograph and then forgot to photograph it. A cleanup waste of one ramekin. 

Miso, chicken, egg

Bell pepper and onion singed with olive oil in a large cast-iron stew-pot (Not pictured). Tofu and garlic added at the end. Removed to a separate bowl.  Separately, chicken thighs seared in the same pot and removed to the same holding bowl. 

The pot was deglazed with sake, and water was added to the pot before the sake completely evaporated. Honey added to the liquid in lieu of mirin. I have plenty of mirin but I felt like switching out today with something else that is sweet. Pepper flakes were added, my own combination of various broken up dried chiles. Then Italian style semolina wheat spaghetti. This is perfectly legal. The miso police will not come swooping in and cite you for improper noodle usage. 

[Asians use wheat noodles too. You will see in the noodle aisle of Asian markets a good deal of buckwheat noodles which are tri-corner grains similar to wheat but not the same thing. Pure buckwheat contains no gluten. However buckwheat flour intended for baked goods usually contains some measure of regular wheat. ]

I decided I wanted the noodles to soak up the flavored water as they cooked and to impart the water with surplus surface starch thickening it. A cleanup savings of one pot. Notice the bits of fond floating around the water. 

Time to start building up flavors.

I didn't have any cabbage but I did have kimchi. Kimchi is both tart and hot, and I already had chile flakes in the water. Fine. Double the intended heat. I also didn't have fresh mushrooms, although there are plenty of dried shitaki mushrooms in the pantry, I didn't think of it soon enough, but honestly, I didn't feel like bothering. 

Flavor check: 

1) sake
2) honey
3) chile flakes + kimchi
4) fish sauce (one teaspoon, basically, fermented anchovy water)
5) sesame oil (a few drops, that stuff goes a long way)
6) soy sauce (one tablespoon) 

Miso added at the very end and hardly boiled at all, the heat turned off immediately.  (one rounded tablespoon).

An egg was pulled from the refrigerator and warmed in a cup of hot water to room temperature. This took about 5 minutes while everything else was going on. 

I don't know what happened to the egg when  I was eating the bowl of soup. I avoided it while I picked at the edges and before I knew it, the darn thing just disappeared. I think I might have caught a glimpse of one tiny bit of gently cooked yolk but it was so tiny I couldn't be sure. 

Spaghetti in bacon fat fail

This was an experiment. Toast oiled with bacon grease and spaghetti sauce made with 50% bacon grease / 50% olive oil.  

Conclusion: Not recommended. It tasted great  there for awhile and then, eh, even though it is a small amount it quickly gets ... greasy. Without actual bacon, shrimp and Parmigiano could not redeem it. 


Last of the four buns, here with some kind of Irish cheddar.

The mayonnaise is 50% canola / 50% olive oil. The oil was heated and the eggs were warmed in hot water before they were whipped together.  Lemon juice, whole mustard, salt & pepper and egg yolks whipped in a jar that was held inside simmering water. So the already hot ingredients are brought together and heated further in a water bath  to 145℉ / 65℃ in order to cook the egg. The oil was drizzled painfully slowly to ensure it incorporated. Presently I prefer using the whip attachment to the immersion blender on slowest setting. The result is an aerated soft fluffy mixture that in a water bath with preheated ingredients that cooks to temperature pretty much as soon as the oil is finally added completely. Cooked, it can be stored for longer than if it were not cooked. That was two egg yolks, which isn't very much egg yolk for  1 cup of oil. One half  juicy lemon squished completely with one of those Mexican lemon smashers.  One tablespoon mustard, one tablespoon honey, S/P.

Bison burger, hamburger buns

My buns are better than your buns FACT so you might as well give up right now.

Speaking of whipping out sandwich bread in minutes, commercial yeast is fun to watch.

* One cup warm water
* One teaspoon commercial yeast (stored in the freezer)
* One squirt honey, not stirred because I didn't want to mess up the yeast that had spread across the surface of the water. It hydrated and sank where the cells that fell to the center came into contact with the honey that also sank there. It virtually exploded into bloom. All this happened in no more than three minutes. I do not understand why instructions say "proof the yeast for at least 10 minutes." My experience is is the yeast has nothing to prove, it unfailingly activates, and it does so very rapidly. I stand there and watch cells dividing and expanding right in front of my eyes.

Flour is added by the rounded tablespoon, two at a time. First whole wheat (2), then A/P (6). Stir, and check absorption. Then whole wheat again (1) and A/P again (3). So that comes out to 12 rounded tablespoons flour. MATHS! But the tablespoons were inconsistent. Some were heaping others were merely rounded. So that invalidates the maths dunn'it, and we're back to intuition and to the world of feeling things. I could have just as easily dumped it in directly from the bags.

Salt added at the mid point of kneading the dough. The dough was flattened out at that point so salt was sprinkled on as if seasoning a pizza. Then the kneading resumed.

Ground grain releases enzymes that perform a molecular unlocking action the moment the grain comes in contact with water in a process termed autolysis. It is the self-destruction of the cell. Savvy bakers take advantage of autolysis by allowing freshly formed dough to sit for ten to twenty minutes before they begin to knead it. When that is done, you can actually feel through your fingertips the difference in resistance of the dough. I did not do that. I started kneading right away, so I knew the dough that I was working was more resistant than it needed to be.

Instructions will  also say to knead for at least ten minutes to develop the gluten protein. I do not do that either. I think I'm a little rougher on dough than the average kneader. The point of kneading is to coax the protein molecules to unravel and stretch out, to connect with adjoining strands and to form a net that will trap air. So the style of kneading I use also differs from the average instruction you may read. It has everything to do with stretching. Like a boy making a snake out of clay, I roll the dough then stretch it until it breaks or nearly breaks. Then smash it together into a ball again and form another snake. Then stretch the snake again again, and so on. Each successive snake stretch informs me of the condition of the protein stretchability and the molecular net that is forming under hand. I carry on like this really roughing it up until the desired stretchability is achieved. I pound the stretched snake on the work surface to force it to stretch without breaking. The dough can be felt softening through the fingertips. This takes about five minutes, if that, and it's fun!

Don't say it.

And so on like this a few more times.

The final snake is stubby so that its divisions can be easily visualized.

I prefer to form them not as tall as regular burger buns so I can cram them into my mouth.  If you prefer them tall then obviously you wouldn't form the dough to such flat discs. 

The risen buns were painted with water to help the stretched surface remain moist and elastic in intense heat long enough for them to expand. To improve the crumb, not necessarily to have taller buns.  Some bakers spray water during the first 10 minutes but that's all the time these buns will have. Plus there is a pizza stone in the oven that I don't want to risk cracking. 

These are sturdier than 100% white flour buns. They contain 25% whole wheat milled from grain at home so that portion is loaded with everything that grain possesses. This is not true of flour marketed as 100% whole grain because of legalistic  merchandising shenanigans of gigantic commercial concerns -- and there ought to be a law! -- and there is are, but those laws have been lobbied to depart from your benefit. 

Granny Smith, Grana Padano

Aay, è il formaggio Grana Padano, I would lika you to meet mia Nona Mela Verde. 

Snack. Because I'm staaaaaar - ving. 

Almonds zapped for 30 seconds to excite their insides. 

Fried eggs with Maui sourdough toast

Late night snack, wait, I guess it is an early morning snack. Whatever. I'm showing the holes in the bread. See? That is what artisan bread is all about. Rarely will you see that with homemade bread because home bakers follow the usual directions and bake their bread in Pullman pans and at heat much lower and for longer periods than artisan bakeries do. The home bread baker can approximate artisan bread by baking in a cloche instead of a pan, and by using heat as high as their oven will go. Those two things permit a wetter dough which is the third difference. However, the flavor of the bread is produced first by the starter, this one collected on Maui, and by a fermentation period, in this case three days which is just about perfect. The fermentation is more important than any given particular starter, in my humble opinion, the starter being a culture of a  combination of yeast cells and bacteria unique to geographic areas, and the fermentation is the effect of that culture over time.

When the third day rolled around, the baking day, the dough was insufficiently wet. That was corrected by stretching out the dough to a squarish pizza then dampening my hands to dripping wet and applying the water to the top layer and folding the pizza shape into thirds, watering again, folding again, stretching and flattening and watering again, then finally folding in thirds again into a bread shape. That bread shape flattens out on its own over 20 minutes or so of final rising but it is stretched again into a baguette shape as it is dropped into a fierce hot cloche that had been preheating high as the oven goes. Dangerous, yes. I wanted it wet as a jellyfish, more wet than you would imagine could rise and support itself. The wetness made large hole formation possible, the preheated cloche contained the moisture long enough for the dough to expand as thousands of little balloons, and then abruptly SET due to the intense heat having its final way.

If the word cloche seems too scary to bother, consider a clay roaster instead. It's the same thing. The roaster can be used upside down to avoid the dough setting on the built-in ribs intended to elevate a roast.

The current egg scare affects my state. The to do  causes me to want to eat more eggs just to be contrarian. Nanner nanner. It does nothing else but make me suspicious of motive.

My whole schedule is thrown off due to a party I went to yesterday. Met a bunch of really nice people and made new friends. At one point I changed tables and joined another group of people that I hadn't met before. They looked at me a little puzzled as I sat down with them, so I go, "You guys look like you're interesting."  But my abrupt intrusion caused conversation to stall so I continued, "I overheard you talking about visiting Haiti," and conversation spilled out from there. One guy told a story about how life was when he lived in a ghetto area. That caused another person to top that story with another harsher ghetto-living related story that was much more dramatic in which he starred as the hero. I said, "See? I knew you guys are interesting."   I came waaaaaay out of character and drank three sodas, and boy, were they sugary. They could have filled hummingbird feeders. Then the hummingbirds would go, "WUT UP WID ALL DIS SUGAR? YOU TRYING TO KILL US?" Everybody else was drinking beer and liquor and wine but I guess I'm just not into any of that. Dorito chips, which are quite addictive, prepared dips from jars. Cakes from the grocery store bakery. I was starving so I had a sandwich finally at about 10:00PM with sandwich meat and commercial bread. It was mini flat bread that could be sliced into two discs. It was the best choice available, but honestly it still didn't come close to the flatbread I can whip out myself in minutes by making dough and frying it in a pan. <-- FACT.

It's all so clear to me now.

I misunderstood the amount of time between getting the invitation and the actual party. When I realized the error I had only a few hours to crank out a thank-you card, which I prefer to leave on their table rather than mail. There were other things I had to get to too so it was with urgency I cranked out this sweet little pop-up card, if you care to have a look.

Potato salad with shrimp and bacon

I have never been big on potato salad but that is because I never had anything this good.

Can you believe it, shrimp in potato salad? Impossible! This potato salad is a one-time thing in the course of human history, one that will never be matched or surpassed. 

* Boiled Yukon potatoes in extra salty water
* Fried bacon to crispiness, made extra to munch separate from all this. 
* Roasted oiled cauliflower florets to singe.
* Shrimp in brine to plump 
* Olive oil, bacon fat,  and  cider vinegar 

Miso, steamed buns

Bison stuffed buns from yesterday. What did you expect? After all, there are nine of these puppies. Brown rice South River miso. Authentic miso, the best available, from the exotic faraway land of Conway Massachusetts where apparently there is a river in the south.

* one large tomato diced and placed uncooked at the bottom of the bowl.
* one slab of tofu off the top of the tofu package so the tub it came in could be refilled with fresh water easily without spillage and covered.
* one half a white onion sliced into slivers
* two cremini mushrooms sliced
* one clove garlic, smashed and thinly cut to bits
* one rounded tablespoon South River miso
* three cups water
* two bison stuffed steamed buns, re-steamed separately in the microwave for 30 seconds with a small amount of broth.  I didn't want to risk them disintegrating in boiling miso.

And don't tell me the onions look like worms, I'm not having it.

Frankly, this broth needed something. I used to enjoy a bowl of plain miso but now I equate it with a cup of tea. Vegetables to miso isn't cutting it for me anymore. Not even the bison completed it. I suppose I'm becoming jaded, if I'm not already. Sake, mirin, honey, sugar, chile flakes, dashi or stock. Any of those things would fill out the flavor profile more completely.

Here's an idea: take a boat-load of onions and caramelize them at length achingly slowly. Over time, a huge pot of onions reduces to a few cups. On low for hours. Even on low the onions tend to burn. Ever aware of the state of your onions, dash them with water to arrest the burning and to start over with the caramelization process. Their developing sugar begins to burn again. Dash them with water again. And again. And again. And so on until you have pile of brown fully caramelized limp shrunken material that used to be onions but now must be called something else. This is the stuff that authentic French onion soup is made (part of it, the burnt bone marrow is the other part, and the oversized crouton floating a superabundance of Swiss-type cheese are the other parts). But who has time for all that onion caramelization? Maybe it is the sort of thing that can be started in a slow cooker and left untended while one goes off on one's merry way.

Bison steamed buns

Stuffed dumplings, steamed buns filled with meat. I do not know what to call this. I invented it! Of course it was invented already at least 1,000 times in 1,000 variations: bao, nunu, pau, Goubuli (brand), dabaozi, xiabaozi, manti, vareniki (boiled), xingal, xlaklo, khinkali, ravioli, poteball, kløbb, Pitepalt, pierogi, pelmeni, kluski, koldūnai, pozi

SHUT UP !!!¡¡11!!11

Dough: this was changed midstream on impulse. Originally, I started with 1/2 Cup hot water, 1 level teaspoon dry active yeast, drizzle honey to kickstart the yeast and to sweeten the dough, 1 level cup white A/P flour, pinch of salt. Then for some reason right there I was overtaken with the urge to include masa harina (alkali-treated husked corn meal, makes niacin available) for that particular earthy flavor. It is a very un-dumpling-like ingredient. So, another 1/2 cup hot water and sufficient masa harina to form a stiff dough along with another pinch of salt to compensate for the increased mass. Left to rest and to rise. The masa, nearly 1/2 the volume of dry ingredient, is dead weight for the yeast and contains no gluten to form a molecular net that could trap bubbles produced by yeast. So all that would burden the A/P flour.  It would not contribute to the rise, and no chemical leaven is included, but I am not concerned with that because I am making dumplings, not bread. Nevertheless, the dough did rise, and fast too. This gave me the idea that masa-infused dough would make great tasting dinner rolls. I'll have to put that to the test some time.

Stuffing: two bison burgers, 1/2 diced white onion fried to soften, 1 garlic clove, 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice, olive oil, sake, soy sauce, water to halt the burning of the garlic, boy, caught that just in time, honey (in place of mirin), 2 diced mushrooms. 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs.

Flattened the dough balls, stretched the dough around a ball of meat mixture. Steamed.

OMG! These are delicious.

Ya know what is cool? I imagined I was making too much dough for the amount of filling intended but I didn't care about wasting it. I made the dough, then made the filling, then cut four strips of parchment paper, then cut those strips into thirds for 12 small rectangles. Maths! I divided the dough into half, then halved those, third-ed those segments, which then seemed to be the right size. Turned out to be 12 just like the parchment. Maths! Then as I went along scooping and pinching the stuffing from the bulk to form each little ball, I paid no attention to matching the amount of stuffing to the amount of dough. Still, the stuffing turned out to be exactly twelve dumplings worth. I did not plan that, even so, it turned out to match perfectly. It's maths! I tell you what, the maths of intuition.

But how to know when they're done? By inserting a thermometer, that's how. Science! But even there, the thermometer is inserted when one expects the dumplings are done. So once again, it is the science of intuition. Turned out, the timing was spot-on. Darn, I'm good.

I ate three of these. Know what that means? It means they're 1/4 gone, it means 75% remains. Maths! It is everywhere.

Say, howz 'bout some photos?

Black beans and rice, tomato, prosciutto, Gruyère

There's a nice looking lunch. It's almost like a sandwich without bread, if a sandwich were to explode into separate piles. And if to accompany that splody sandwich you had rice and beans instead of some kind of oily fried potato. 

Black beans and rice. Something held over from earlier. They're still quite good. The beans are cooked to the tooth. You probably would not like them, but I do. If I would make beans and rice for guests, unlikely, I would make a point to overcook the beans to near mush. It's just one of the small ways I try to accommodate the tastes of the people in my circle even when they are hopelessly wrong and resolutely unteachable. 

A few slices of deli prosciutto. I wouldn't bother with that either por los compadres mios. They would rather have bacon. In fact, I discovered when preparing a dish for a party that includes bacon, to go ahead and crisp up an excess of at least something like 50o%, then offer it right there in the kitchen as if it were a personal offering and ever so naughty. Guest do love that. It's the sort of thing one's mother would smack one's hands for. So I plan for it, to act as a sort of cheater's quasi hors d'oeuvre. Conversely, it's a total drag to fill up the place with the aroma of bacon cooking then force everybody to wait for a tiny unsatisfactory pittance. I offer this hint for successful hosting. 

A large hothouse tomato diced to irregular chunks, combined with a single scallion chopped to bits, just for fun. Olive oil, rice vinegar, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper.

Grand cru (that means vintage) Gruyère. It's all of the eh. This shows once again that in all cases my preference is for strong cheese that goes: 

This doesn't do that, irrespective of it own bragging about being aged. 

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