Saturday, December 27, 2008

A magazine about cooking with kids

That's what my daughters wanted to get me for Christmas. My wife knows how picky I am about all things cooking and didn't want to pick a cookbook I wouldn't like, so she steered the kids towards some books she knew I wanted. One of the books was a pre-order of Michael Ruhlman's "Ratios" that will be released this spring. There will probably be some things I can make with the kids in there.

When we come back from vacation, I'll have to hit the library for cooking with kids ideas. I hope there are a few out there that don't have Rachel Ray on the cover.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Where do you keep your grill in the winter?

I think it's an important question. Is is packed away or is it readily accessible so that you will be enjoying grilled meals all winter long? This is going to come off as pompous, probably because it is, but if you grill using hardwood charcoal, your grill is accessible. You couldn't go the entire winter without a grilled steak. And propane just isn't the same. In the northeast, many grillers will use the snow blower to clear out around the grill before they clear out the mailbox. It's a matter of priorities.

We've gotten some snow over the weekend. I'm going to guess 16 inches since Friday morning. During a break in the snow, I took my 4 year old daughter Allison to the super market. While shopping, she asked if we could have "Allison's Special Chicken" for dinner one night. How could I refuse?

Allison's special chicken is chicken drumsticks and thighs that are covered in a rub and grilled over charcoal. I named the dish/rub for Allison when at age 2, she ate a lot of it. Did it again the next time we had it. And the next time... Then to make her father very proud, she refused to eat some purchased grilled chicken because it wasn't as good.

After seeing Chef Mike Pardus' online demonstration of breaking down a chicken, I decided to do my best to never buy chicken parts. I'm still too checp to buy a $15 farmer's market chicken, so I've settled for BJ's all natural whole chickens. Two chickens for about $13. Here's how the chickens break down:

About 2 pounds of boneless skinless breast that get made into random dinners
8 wing pieces that get saved for a wing dinner
4 drumsticks and 4 thighs that get grilled as Allison's Special Chicken
bones & giblets for stock
chicken liver - the liver I had got turned into chopped liver for Thanksgiving
skin & fat for schmaltz - I used some for Thanksgiving

Tonight, I fired up the grill and made Allison's Special Chicken. She had two drumsticks.

I'm not a great blogger

Well, I skipped posting for all of November and most of December. I guess I'm not a very good blogger. Maybe that will change with time. I think the problem is that I don't think to take pictures of what I'm doing. I just do it. For example, this morning I made some butter. No pictures. It was delicious and easy to make and I recommend trying it. Watching the cream get whipped into butter was pretty cool. I know I will do it again. Maybe there will be pictures. I grilled dinner tonight. Took some pictures. That's the next post.

Hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. Food was good. All the guests were family and there were no fights. A success. I enjoyed preparing the meal.

Curling season started. It is a great game. And even if you don't play well, there is Scotch waiting for you in the warm room.

So, I don't take many pictures and don't write about what I've been doing. Luckily this blog space is free.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chicken Stock Revisted

Tried making chicken stock again. It came out much better this time. I didn't have enough bones for the amount of water I used. The flavor of this is nicer, plus the end product wasn't ruined with mysterious freezer gel pac goo. I think I got a little over a quart out of the bones from two chickens.

Two, boneless skinless breast were dinner last night.
Thighs and wings went on the grill tonight.
Two, boneless skinless breast went into the freezer for a dinner withing a week.
The wings are adding up, I'll have to have a Buffalo wing dinner soon.
Fat from 4 birds is frozen to get fat for Thanksgiving.
The livers are going to be used in a Thanksgiving pate.

Total usage. My new mantra.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

When Good Stock Goes Bad

After viewing the Mike Pardus demo on breaking down a chicken, I stopped buying chicken parts and started buying whole chickens. Costs less, better quality and you get more for the buck. I have broken down two chickens so far. From them I made two dinners using boneless breast, one dinner of grilled thighs and drumsticks, some frozen wings, a frozen liver(one chicken didn't come with a liver), frozen fat, and a lot of frozen bones.

Well, this morning I took the bones out of the freezer and roasted them. Then they went into a pot and got covered with Brita filtered water. Brought it to a boil and started skimming. Moved the pot into a low oven. It was apparently too low so it got bumped up later -Note to self: get an oven thermometer. Then I added diced carrots, celery and onion and continued cooking for another hour. Strained it through a colander. Strained it through a fine mesh sieve - I thought I had cheese cloth but apparently not. Then began chilling it. I had a clean bottle that I filled with water and froze. I put it to cool the stock. It brought it down to about 80 degrees. So I filled a ziplock with all the ice I had and in it went. It was still a little warm.

I was about to take the kids out, so I grabbed an ice pack out of the freezer, cleaned it, dropped it in and moved everything to the fridge. That was dumb. Super dumb. I had a leak. So some amount of non-toxic freeze bag gel made its way into my beautiful stock.

I dumped it down the drain. It was very depressing. (insert deep shoulder slumping sigh here)

From the few tastes I had, it was pretty good stock. I probably should have used a little less water. Maybe kept the mirepoix in a little longer. Damn I wanted that stock.

Grocery shopping is tomorrow. Guess I'll get a chicken and start over.

It's all in the details. Hope I don't screw up the schmaltz. I'm counting on that for Thanksgiving.

Wylie Coyote: Super Genius

Saw this on my favorite blog, The Hunger Artist. I'll try not to let it get to my head after one post, but genius is a nice word to throw around.

blog readability test

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hello, and welcome.

Never thought I'd have a blog. I started following a few last week. They had links to other blogs. And now I stay up way too late reading blogs. Mostly blogs about food.

I don't really have any idea what I'll be blogging about, but some topics/events that may find their way here in the near future are the new sausage stuffer I recently got, BBQ, and the cows I co-own. The beef is great, but here's a piece of advice: If your father-in-law asks you if you want to go in on some cows, run it by your wife before you say yes.

Hopefully, with a little time, this might be a decent spot to see a post.