Orange and vanilla ice cream popsicle

Creamsicle is the inspiration for this idea of mixing high quality vanilla ice cream and quality orange juice. 

It is a strange combination better suited for poorer versions of both ice cream and orange juice flavor. It is one of those things that the higher you go the worse it becomes because the elements are not compromised. It is the compromise between the two elements in the original that makes the Creamsicle great and this is unapologetic orange juice and boldly assertive vanilla. Look at the cluster of black vanilla bean seeds proclaiming the presence of noble character. This is not the best treatment for these things, the vanilla or the orange juice, and I should be smacked for dressing them down this way. Having said all that, I ate three of them immediately and I have no intention of sharing the rest, although I will if you beg me.

I put chunks of ice cream into the molds and let orange juice fill the space around them. I found it helpful to use a chopstick to poke holes for the orange juice to fill and form structurally supportive orange ice posts within the patches of ice cream once it was inside the molds. 

Creamsicle = cream and orange flavor coating
Dreamsicle = milk and orange flavor coating
Paleta = Mexican popsicle usually milk and some outrageous imaginative fresh tropical flavor. This is a paleta, but one made of frozen vanilla cream and fresh orange juice combined but not blended. 

Today's potato and yesterday's gravy

That is butter in the center but is doesn't show because the potato is the same shade of yellow.

One might look at this and be tempted to think how boring but that would be wrong because the sauce was found in the refrigerator. Found and used with the confidence that it would not be poison. 

Turned out to be quite hot. Wasn't expecting that. And beef. 

Maybe I had just start labeling things. 

These little potatoes are very good snacks. 

Potato, hamburger, cannellini beans

That's it for the cannellini beans, and boy am I going to miss them. They were so good. I liked putting them on and with nearly everything, and they're great by themselves.

And I am really liking the idea of doing potatoes this way. Spice and butter first into a hot pan then liquids including a lightly salted stock. A single small Yukon Gold potato is sliced directly into the boiling liquid. The potato sloughs starch and the liquid thickens as the potatoes cook down. 

The liquid stands well on its own and curiously by happenstance combines well with other adjoining liquids. There hasn't been a failure combination yet because they are all composed of similar and complimentary elements. The whole deal with this 5LB sack of potatoes has been quite interesting. I'm forcing myself to have one every day, even a small unworthy potato just to have one each day, and that has led to some very interesting discoveries. I took one sip of this sauce when it was in progress and I could not have imagined a more comforting comfort food. 

Now, I see these people on the competitions fail because they failed with their sauce and I'm over here thinking, "Jeeze, get it together already." They are running around searching for things to jazz up their odd ingredient and I am watching as the judges are watching, and the judges are imagining as I am imagining how to break out that odd ingredient and find a liaison with reasonable things, and I am yelling at the teevee for the competitor to notice the reliable things that always work,

"Butter!  Wine! " 

They scramble like maniacs around an unfamiliar pantry and pass up the 

"Honey!  Lemon!  Mustard!"

As usual, Parker and Stone use satire to perfectly nail this ridiculous unnecessary panic scrambling. 

All the familiar basic instant sauce type elements that would assure a placement if not a win and the competitors go out of their minds for some bizarre inspiration to hit them in their moment of high panic, while the clock runs out, and it doesn't hit them, and they lose. And I'm over here going, "Yes! You lose, you loser from Loserville. Because I know how simple it is to calmly produce a sauce out of basic elements that will knock your pants right off. 

Ham and eggs, potato cakes, sourdough toast

 Crisp and crunchy on the outside, light and fluffy potato on the inside.

How is this possible? 

It's a trick. The magician is simply controlling dampness, degree of processing, oil temperature, starch content, cohesion, texture, leaven agents if any, and flavors, that's all. 

If you want crisp outside and fluff inside then the potato must be dry as possible. This potato was parboiled and drained and tamped dry. The potatoes and remaining moisture was still sticky. I used my own dry sourdough breadcrumbs and as little flour as possible. That was all. I considered using egg and then considered using whipped egg white. Either one would have increased cohesion. I also used baking powder in half the amount usually suggested when it is suggested. 

Mashed potato, chicken gravy, sourdough bread


Well, there you have it -- my sourdough bread kicks the living poop out of Whole Foods sourdough bread because theirs is made to appeal to everybody and mine is made to appeal to me.

And that is on the first try without even knowing the unique characteristics of this culture. I don't know where it came from, its metabolism speed, its flavor, its crumb or crust, its strengths and weaknesses, or anything at all about it. All of that comes with handling it further and observing what it does. 

The flour is King Arthur's flour for bread. It is old, its texture is odd and I do not care for it. Its higher protein produces a more complete and even gluten network that is too industrial. It is closer in texture to a synthetic sponge and I strongly prefer a more open crumb created by uneven internal bubbles.  So, it's off to get another 25 LB of my favorite all purpose flour milled from mixed sources, parts unknown. 

Levain, sourdough bread

A levain is started with a mere 1/4 cup water and flour combined. 

The microorganisms are found everywhere, the air, the flour, the container, our bodies. It is the organisms contained in the flour that are cultivated to concentration. This usually takes four days to see little bubbles or signs of active life. This levain had tiny bubbles at twelve hours. 

At twenty-four hours the water and flour partially separated and the mixture smelled very bad. Water was added to refreshen and flour was added to feed the mixture. 

That was the last of the unpleasant odor.

On the third feeding the mixture more than tripled in size and lifted the lid and poured over the side. 

The levain was depleted nearly entirely for the production of two loaves and refreshed with water and flour starting with nearly nothing but an inoculation of a remnant tablespoon or so of live concentrated sourdough culture that remained in the crock container.  

So the levain starter takes off again with a head start this time, and the larger portion is now separated and becomes the sponge that will age and be stiffened into dough that will ferment for days  then finally refreshed again and fed, proofed one last time as a loaf and then baked. 

Dough made from natural live organisms behaves differently than dough made from commercial yeast. With sourdough the baker basically has one good shot. There is no punching down and then re-proofing without a refreshment of new water and flour. The organisms consume the starches, there isn't enough fuel left when they've already spent the previous eight or twelve hours ingesting it. The organisms have not been selectively bred for their gassy property like  the cloned commercial yeast cells have been. So for sourdough bread, the fermented sponge that is built up in stages is refreshed one last time as minimally as possible so that the fermented portion is not overly diluted with the refreshed portion that has no  character and then formed into a loaf and left to proof its final increment. 

The levain was a straight shot too, none of this feeding and spilling out and feeding and spilling out, no, instead the levain was simply refreshed as minimally as possible until it outgrew its container. The size of the crock container for the levain determined when the loaves were started.

The first loaf was baked at 500℉ for 10 minutes then cut back to 350℉/175℃  for 20 minutes

The second loaf was baked at 500℉ for 20 minutes and was pulled because it darkened. 

Angus hamburger dinner

My friend said this is the part he objects to -- dust everywhere. I agree. It is a mess that must be managed. He's against the whole thing. 

It really does get everywhere. 

A friend stopped by yesterday and we made this instead of stepping out. We both had exactly the same thing tacked together in minutes from various pieces mostly leftovers. We sat down and my friend scarfed this meal, and I mean scarfed it, without a word. He finished when I had hardly started and I'm sitting there thinking, Jeeze, can't you pace yourself?

The hamburger is Angus that was on sale. You know how things go a little old and they want to push it out so they mark it down and toss it in the discount corner. I love that. That's what this is. My friend said it was the most delicious hamburger he has ever tasted.


I think that was the bean juice getting on it. The bean liquid altered everything it touched, and it touched everything else on the plate. It combined with the oil and rice vinegar that dressed the vegetables and it combined with the juice from the hamburger. It became like a magical transformative liquid. Likewise, the rice vinegar touched the beans and brightened them perfectly. My friend was amazed. He could not believe a veritable feast could be produced in minutes from scraps. 

That was last night. But this is today. 

I did not mess around with photography last night because my friend was here and I sensed he's not into that sort of thing, the patience required and all that so I blew it off. But the meal is so delicious I made it again today. That was then and this is now. 

I mention all that only because this friend saw what was becoming of the levain and showed an interest in that. He wanted to see what would happen when the levain is fried. This was unusual for him to show an interest so I allowed it even though I could see his experiment was doomed and it messed up what I had going on. I thought it was good for him to see that for himself, and the failure would show what is possible and how it might be fixed. This meal today does that same thing except an actual tortilla is fashioned in the way of an ordinary flour tortilla but with this natural levain. Since it is flattened and its yeast portion useless, it is leavened with baking powder the same as an ordinary tortilla. I was interested in the flavor property of the sourdough not the leavening property, that would have taken too much time, several hours. 

Baked apple, ice cream

A crème anglaise is chilled to near freezing and churned in an ice cream machine to incorporate air and then frozen hard, which sounds more complicated than it is. This churning can be done by children tossing around a toy ball.

A yummy oatmeal topping with butter and brown sugar and cinnamon is inserted between layers of sliced apple, an alternative to gouging out the core and filling the vacancy. 

* apple
* butter
* brown sugar
* cinnamon
* oatmeal
* raisins
* ice cream
* tiny amount of salt
* and a trace of powdered clove to fake myself out by forgetting I did that and then later going, "what?" 

With ingredients like this it would be hard to go wrong. [deleted 3 paragraphs about how to go wrong]

My brother showed me this when he was in the second grade and I was in the first grade. He was nearly two years older than I but we were one school year apart due to birthday dates, he was always on the older end of his class and I was always on the younger end of mine. All of this is relevant to pretty much everything. My older brother, who showed me the world,  led me to a copse and started a fire to cook a few apples, a plan he had prepared in advance without revealing any details. He had everything he needed, knife (!) matches (!) aluminum foil (?) he was truly brilliant that way. He deftly prepared the apples and demonstrated responsible knife safety handling techniques, he started a fire and managed it, he simply tossed the apples into the flames. At eight years old or so he was a terrible cook but an impressive survivalist. 

The people who owned the property could see the smoke rising up from the copse but we did not know that. They hastened one of their sons out from the house to investigate. He busted us there right there with our  fire and I nearly pissed myself with fear. It was like Sasquatch suddenly booming in on us demanding explanations all over the place. My brother comported himself very well, I thought. He explained reasonably what we were doing and showed him our apples. My brother even brought butter and had already cooked the apples to wrinkly soft hot steamy goodness. I just now remembered, that is where we got the apples, right there in the trees. The fellow seemed impressed possibly even amused but he chased us off. That baked apple incident was planed in advance but I was taking it in moment by moment as it developed and of course it developed along the lines thought up by my brother and that is how my brother kept me in a continuous state of amazement, by always being one or two steps in advance of me and always more adventurous. 

Nine additional photos 

Ham sandwich

Chicken salad, penne pasta, apple

*  One single chicken breast torn to pieces.

*  Penne pasta, a handful if you have large hands, two hands full if your hands are small, as if forming a bowl so that the two small hands together can hold more penne pasta than two hands independently as so much of it would fall over the edges of your little hands there, too small to be of much use as penne pasta scoopers, oh well, you might as well go with a cup, say, I'm guessing here,  3/4 cup. 

*  two small Yukon Gold potatoes cooked in the pasta water, conservation you know.  The cooked hot potatoes are cubed and rolled in seasoned oil with a touch of vinegar. The potatoes absorb this light dressing as they cool. 

* One large apple cut to pieces

* Two celery stalks

*  1/2 small white onion zapped for thirty seconds to disable its aggressive sulfides. Enough to make it hot but that's it.

*  Red bell pepper because it was there and because it is red.

*  Pecans. Because ... I don't know why. Does everything need a reason? 

*  Mayonnaise. This covers everything including the potatoes that are already lightly dressed. The potatoes absorbed their light dressing independently of everything else and now they will be coated with the same mayonnaise as everything else. They are unified with the rest. 

The mayonnaise is made right here using the stick blender method described already many times. The difference today is that before starting off the eggs were tempered with hot tap water while still in their shells, that does get quite hot, almost hot enough to denature the eggs inside. The goopy eggs inside are warm almost hot when they are cracked open. The oil is also heated also to the point that almost cooks the egg, but it is drizzled and whirled while being drizzled so it never has a good chance to actually cook them, but by the end of the whirling the eggs are nearly cooked because of all that preheating. A few seconds in the microwave in pulses, stirring between pulses, brings the mixture to fully cooked status which is not necessary but it is useful for longer storage. Raw egg dressing must be used immediately. 

By the time I was done tossing things in a large glass mixing bowl, one at a time, picking the chicken, cooking the pasta, cutting celery, and especially the apple which is larger than an ordinary apple, then the whole thing was much larger than I intended. That took most the mayonnaise prepared for this. So after all that emphasis on mayonnaise storage preparation, most of the dressing was used up anyway, much more than I anticipated so there was only a very little remaining to store.  

The plate shown above is a small 9" plate. The amount of salad produced from one large chicken breast could make ten of these plates, I'm guessing. In fact, I'm going to have another one right now, a bigger one than the one shown at top. 

Oatmeal, tail mix, banana

Oatmeal that is not groats but is not rolled either. I don't know what they did to it but it is a little bit thicker than rolled oats. 

* trail mix with shredded coconut and dried things but no chocolate because, eh, there is plenty of that stuff around here.
* banana
* cinnamon
* vanilla
* butter
* pinch of salt. Oatmeal is totally blah without salt. That's the first thing to go in.
* milk. I have cream but, come on, this is already loaded up with stuff plus I'm thinking of making ice cream.

8 more photos real close up like. 

Cannellini beans

Cannellini beans soaked overnight.

Bacon and other flavorings start off a pot.  The beans are added, water to cover. Three substantial slices of uncured ham are included, so bacon plus ham. It's a fat control thing. I'm aiming for more fat and more carbs. 

* onion
* garlic
* bacon
* white pepper
* salt
* bay
* brown sugar at the very end. 

I didn't want to color the beans so I held off from the spices. All of those things are impulse. They could have been nearly any combination of spices. I wanted the beans to be light and bright rather than heavy and dull. 

The Haystack goat cheese is a local thing that did well. No longer constrained by herd size limitation due to city ordinances, they've now expanded beyond all of that. 

Yukon gold potato. A small one. 

More photos.

Fried chicken

At first I was like ...

And then I was like ...

And finally I was all like ...

Buttermilk. Big thick fat heavy buttermilk. Covered the raw chicken like a cold wet quilt. Overnight. Then the next morning I noticed some parts were sticking up so I added water. Probably should have diluted with milk but I didn't think of it. It soaked completely covered for a few more hours. It only really needed a few hours total so this whole thing was complete overkill. 

Seasoned flour.

When it comes time to fry, then double dip from buttermilk to flour. This is a heavy coating. 

Heavy covered cast iron pan. Shallow fry for 45 minutes, adjust heat accordingly, turn once, partially remove lid to allow steam to escape for last 10 minutes at least. 

All the pieces do not have to be covered in oil. A hot oily atmosphere develops inside the heavy cast iron pan that fries the chicken and its coating even though it is not directly touching the oil. Moisture drips back into the oil which helps with this at first but must be let out before the chicken is finished.  That's how I did it anyway. 

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