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How I failed to successfully clean the kitchen.

1. Mop kitchen floor.
2. Take shower and put on clean clothes.
3. Go to make some chocolate milk, realize I'm out of chocolate syrup.
4. Start making chocolate syrup.
5. When putting bottle of vanilla extract back in cabinet, knock over bottle of peppermint extract, which falls and knocks over measuring cups with vanilla extract and cocoa powder all over me and the floor.
6. Clean mess and mop floor.
7. Throw clothes in washing machine, hoping it won't be stained too bad.
8. Take shower and put on clean clothes.
9. Finish making chocolate syrup.
10. Realize kitchen is now far dirtier than before I "cleaned" it for the first time.

Hamburger meat with ground in bacon

The other day, as I was stopping to pick up some meat from Oakland Bay Farm at the Olympia Farmers Market, then informed me that they are now carrying ground beef with their bacon ground into it. I've make some burgers like this before, and it came out really well, but it was a pain to do on a regular basis. Now that they are stocking it as a regular item, I can imagine including it in all sorts of recipes. Meatloaf or meatballs would be great with the bacon mixed in the meat.

Semi-traditional machaca

As an extra credit project for my Food, Health and Sustainability program at Evergreen, I'm making machaca in the traditional beef jerky style. Most restaurants make their machaca just by cooking up some shredded beef till it dries out a little. This is still plenty tasty, but not as good as the traditional method. Unfortunately, we just don't have the weather in Washington State in February to sun dry the beef, so I'm cheating and using the dehydrator.

I'm following the recipe in my old Mexican Cooking at the Academy book, which is really one of the best practical books for producing high quality Mexican food. I love the Diane Kennedy and Rick Bayless books, but the out of print book from the California Culinary Academy is a lot more straight forward.

Roux, sauce and emulsions lab

In my 5 years back at college, I never had a lab class that smelled as good as our roux, sauce and emulsions lab did yesterday. A few weeks back, we had a veggie stock lab, and the various groups used their stocks to make the sauces. Since we had a roasted veggie stock, we made a dark roux and sauce that came out incredible. We ended up standing around eating it like pudding. Some of the others ranged from having a raw flour taste, to dumping in a quarter cup of tomato paste to try and make their dark sauce darker. There was really only one light sauce that very good, and our one dark sauce. But that's all you really need, isn't it?

Food, Health and Sustainability

This coming school year, I'm enrolled in a program at The Evergreen State College called Food, Health and Sustainability. At Evergreen, the core of the curriculum is based on interdisciplinary programs, rather than separate individual courses like those in most schools. In this case, the program is full time and runs for three quarters.

Here's the description from the online catalog:

What should we eat? What is the difference between conventional and organic foods? Why is there an outcry over genetically modified foods? What is local food? Why does journalist Michael Pollan call this the American "Age of Nutritionism?" Why is there hunger?

Bachelor cooking week

My girlfriend is gone for a week, which means one thing - bachelor food! Too bad portlandpiper and I weren't able to sync on sending the women away, which would have certainly led to a big ol pot of chili.

I'd kinda like to make some honey chicken, but I'm out of ginger, so that will have to wait till tomorrow. Tonight, I'm just going to make up some nachos with some ground buffalo and chorizo for the meat.

Zingerman's Bacon Camp

I would really love to go to Zingerman's Bacon Camp. The guest of honor are mostly the smokemasters from small artisan smokehouses.

It's not happening this year, but maybe I can work it out next summer.

A little bit of batchelor mode

The wife is heading off to visit her Mom and sister for a bit so I get to make some old favourites. I have been in the mood for a nice creamy macaroni and cheese for a while so that is definitely on the list. I also noticed that one of the decent BBQ places (Campbell's) in SE Portland has started advertising organic buffalo ribs so that is also going to be on my list of things to try. So far my batchelor mode food list is only two items long. I must not be very hungry right now because I can not think of anything else to make.

I ran out of pastured bacon

I ran out of the pastured bacon that I get at the farmer's market, and resorted to buying some dry cured bacon from the store. I can't believe how bland it is. I've gotten so spoiled with the wonderful porky flavour of the pasture raised meat, that I just can't bring myself to eat the store-bought bacon on its own anymore. It's not too bad cooked into things like a cheese strata or a bacon cheese burger, but no more bacon sides till April when the market opens back up again.

bread machine pizza dough

Since I'm experimenting with making most of my bread this winter in the bread machine, I decided to try using the dough cycle to make pizza dough for dinner tonight. It's a 6 cup recipe, and a 4 cup machine, which led to a little tweaking. I don't want to drop all the way to 4 cups, because that would make less dough than I really like for the two of us, but 5 cups should be enough. Hopefully it won't rise beyond the edge of the pan.

Fajita burritos for dinner

Looking for something to eat out of the freezer for dinner, and I came across some frozen carne asada. I chopped up part of an onion and a pepper, a few cloves of garlic, some black beans and brown rice to top it off and I had a nice burrito filling. I melted a few of my tomatillo salsa ice cubes to pour over the top.

Fast and yummy!

Starting in on the freezer

We finished up the last of the Christmas dinner left-overs last week and started in on what we have put up in the freezer during the summer and fall. Two years ago we had one share in our CSA and we ran out of our freezer stores around the end of March. This past year we had two shares in our CSA so we should have enough to get us through to the end of May which is when our CSA and farmers' markets really get going again.

New Year's Eve grub

We don't exactly celebrate New Year's Day, but we do take it as another excuse to make a nice meal or two. It's a dreary day here in western Washington, so we decided to make a nice spicy wok full of Kung Pao Chicken. Thankfully, we decided this before the local Asian grocery stores closed early for the night, as we were out of many of the necessary ingredients.

For lunch I made up a breakfast egg sandwich. I call the Egg McMuffins, though I don't go to McDonalds, so I have no idea how they compare. Okay, that isn't really true, I know that nothing from McDonalds can compare to whole grain english muffins, breakfast sausage from pasture raised pigs, 3-year aged cheddar and farm fresh eggs.

Christmas in Portland

Since my girlfriend went back in Pennsylvania for Christmas, I decided to accept portlandpiper's invitation to share Christmas with him and his wife. Of course it was a very foodie Christmas.

Our Christmas Eve dinner was homemade pizza. There was some good sourdough wheat crust with a baked tomato and chile sauce that he made with the surplus from his CSA share. A variety of cheeses and some good organic veggies and meats rounded things out nicely.

Why I like having my own farmer

At the farmer's market today, I got nice presents from both my meat farm and my goat cheese dairy. Earlier in the weekend, we got a couple extra veggies thrown in from our usual veggie farmer. Of course, it was nice to get about $30 worth of "free" stuff from them, but it was the recognition of the relationship that was more important. I always try and give them good feedback, and they always try and provide me with food that meets my needs.

Tonight I feel like eating some Swedish meatballs, but I'm not feeling motivated to do that much cooking. The meat isn't thawed, and I don't have any lingonberry jam either, so that gives me an excuse not to make it. I'll just be lazy and make a quick chicken teriyaki.

Rapadura

I really like trying to eat healthier, without having to totally give up on my food vices. When it comes to sweeteners, I rarely use plain old granulated sugar anymore, and try to use something that adds more nutrients and complex flavors as well. Some of my favorites are fruit juices, honey and molasses, all of which give their own unique character to the dish, as well as bringing in a wide variety of nutrients.

When I do use sugar, I try to go with organic turbinado as my first choice, which is the raw cane juice with the molasses removed, but no further refining or bleaching. This leaves a lot of nutrients and minerals that are removed in white sugar, though still in small amounts. It's still sugar, but at least there is some benefit as well.

Breaking out the bread machine

I really like baking and really love eating the results, but I don't have time to do it anywhere near as often as I would like. We've owned a bread machine for many years, but I just don't like the results as much as handmade bread, and it always seems like cheating to me. Last week, when I was unloading the groceries and pulled out a loaf of store bought bread, it occurred to me that the results still taste at least as good as store bought, and using a bread machine is cheating less than buying sliced bread from the store.

Thanksgiving dinner plans

As has become our tradition, we're going camping out at the coast for Thanksgiving. We used to have the beach all to ourselves from Wednesday through Friday morning, and we would leave just as the crowds were starting to arrive. Unfortunately, with the economic downturn, lots of other people have discovered Thanksgiving camping, and the crowds have gotten worse.

Trying a kosher bird for Thanksgiving this year

After all of the different types and brands of turkey varieties that I have tried - natural, organic, vegetarian feed, pastured, heritage, heirloom and wild. I realized that I have never had a kosher bird. So this year I decided to order one and see how it compares with the others that I have had.

So far I like wild turkeys the best but unless you hunt or have hunter friends you will not get one. After wild turkeys the pastured raised birds have had the best flavour followed by some of the heritage/heirloom brands.

Once nice thing with the kosher bird is that it will not have to be brined.

A lemonade experiment

Today is now officially the hottest day on record all around the Puget Sound. Right now we're at 109° F and climbing. I wanted some lemonade, but I don't want to go out and buy lemons to make good lemonade, so I was going to make the regular old cheap lemonade using <GASP> lemon juice from a bottle. When it's this hot, it doesn't have to be good, it just needs to get the liquid in me.

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