Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Father's Day 2010

A wee bit late on this one...but I spent Saturday and Sunday of father's day weekend with a weed whacker trimming around cow fence. It was not thrilling. And the week whacker wasn't working right. Damn thing constantly jammed and the engine wasn't firing correctly either. I got a few blisters and a little itchy patch of poison-something-or-other on my hand. I am probably taking my whining a little too far with this, but the red line is fence that I weed whacked. On both sides. Cue pitiful violin music please.

On the plus side, I got lots of nice cards, a GPS thingy for the car, and a few cute drawings. Had a nice talk with my dad too.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

And Still More Chicken Stock

I was just about out of chicken stock. I like having 1 cup containers of stock. A little good stock tends to improve a dinner. I made a variation of my cavetelli with sausage and broccoli last week. Usually it is all tossed in a bowl. This time, I made a quick roux, thickened the chicken stock, tossed everything together with some mozzarella cheese and put it in the oven to melt. It was pretty good.

Instead of just throwing together a stock by feel, I decided to follow Ruhlman's ratio for stock. 2 parts bones, 3 parts water, and then about 20% by weight mirepoix. I had the bones from 4 chickens in the freezer weighing in at just over 6 pounds. A pint is a pound the world I needed 9 pounds of water...9*16=144ouces of H2O. Into the big pot that is really a roaster and not a stock pot.

That's 11:58 in the morning-I'm not crazy enough to start making stock at midnight. Well, I am but I didn't do it. The bones thawed as the water reached a simmer. Then there is the yeeecchhh you have to get rid of.

Once the yeeech had subsided and everything was at a good simmer, the lid went on and the roaster went into a 200 degree oven. This is a great idea. It was around 1:00 when it went into the oven. After 5 hours of completely hands off simmering, I added 2 pounds of rough cut mirepoix and about a tablespoon of tomato paste.

And then back into the oven for 2 more hours. I strained it through a colander and then again through some cheesecloth. I keep an ice packed filled with water (lesson very learned) in the freezer. Once that went in, it kind of created some weird swirls.

Once cold, I put it in the fridge overnight. Skimmed a little fat off the next day and set up small packages of stock. The small ziplocks have 1 cup of stock. The containers hold about a cup and a half.

With this 3:2 ratio, the stock became viscous when cold but did not gel up. I think I was probably closer to using a 1:1 ratio earlier. The stock has a very nice flavor. There is no salt in it, I have to remember to account for that when cooking. I once made a very bland pot of soup. Nothing that couldn't be fixed with a salt shaker though. So currently there is the meat from 3 chickens in the freezer along with a little over a gallon of stock. Should last a little while.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hope to see you again soon, Mr. Dave

It seems like Mr. Dave is ending The Ridiculous Food Society of Upstate New York to spend time with his family. You can't blame a guy for that. My parenting/blogging rationalization is that most of my blogging/food misadventures happen after the kids are asleep. Mr. Dave's blog will be missed and I'll tell you why.  There are many who could write lyrically about a hot dog with meat sauce from a Stewarts, but there are few that would mean it. And discuss "piss beer" with the expression meant as a compliment. Found shopping lists - one person's litter is Mr. Dave's treasure. He has also eaten a few things I don't think I could (in the name of science, of course) - the hot doggish thing at Cumberland Farms, caffeinated jerky, Bucket of Ribs, and the Jar O' Sausage to name a few.

Ridiculous Food Society, you had me at Whole Grain Bacon Beer Mustard. You had me at Bacon Beer Mustard.

Mr. Dave, I hope to see you around the Capital District Blogoshpere. This one is for you:

Every now and then, we have what we call Breakfast For Dinner. Eggs (hard boiled and scrambled with cheese), toast, bacon, and fruit. Once in awhile pancakes show up too. Here's the last of the homemade bacon going into the oven. I've got to pick up some pork belly and make some more.

Friday, June 11, 2010

More Cooking Shows on TV

I was surfing the channels earlier in the week and came across The Cooking Channel. Never heard of it. Not sure when it joined the Time Warned Cable lineup (Channel 320). I must have missed that meeting. Using the handy-dandy guide I flipped their their shows for the better part of a week. They are showing a lot of Jamie Oliver's "Jamie at Home" which in my opinion is good because I've never seen it. And you can not say the man isn't passionate about food. In the episode I watched, he made a kick ass looking hot pepper relish. I just looked for the recipe online, and due to some contractual-laywer-blah-blah only 2 recipes per show can be on the website. Alas, the one I want is not there. Pretty sure it is still on the DVR. I'll flip through it and take some notes.

After flipping through the programming lineup, I was a little excited bacuse it looked like the shows would be more technique driven instead of food-entertainment. There are some Food TV reruns, but there were a lot of shows I had never heard and they looked like the could be worth a view.

And then I watched, well kind of watched, and episode of Food Jammers. I was not impressed. The episode was 3 surfer kind of guys preparing for a party with a little bit of Junkyard Wars mixed in. Each guy was preparing something to eat as well as building a bizarre mechanism to cook on. Dude 1 was going to make a 10 foot sausage and came up with hot dog treadmill thing to cook the sausage over charcoal.  Dude 2 made mini tofu burgers (looked like 1" diameter) and he cooked them with steam in a custom made bamboo tower. The heat source was a hot air gun. Dude 3 roasted a chicken with barbecue sauce. Maybe roasted isn't the right word. He slathered a chicken with BBQ sauce. Wrapped it in foil. Put a skewer through it and then mounted the skewer in a homemade gyroscope thing and spun the chicken over a campfire.

I don't get the premise. There wasn't any how-to-cook information and there wasn't any how-to-build-this-crap information. And by the end, I was starting to really not like the hosts. So, I'll be skipping that show in the future. But there might be a few worth viewing, should the host be making something you are interested in seeing.

In other news, broke down 2 chickens, got them in the freezer, and cleaned up in just under 50 minutes. I'd like to slowly edge my way to half an hour. But I can't get there too fast - I half to make sure I don't lose a finger.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lauren's House of Dogs

I had seen the ad a few times in the Metroland and was curious. I've got the need to cure something, so when I had a little extra midday time today, I made a beeline for Cardona's to pick up some pork butts. After picking up about 15 pounds of pork butt, two small pieces of different Fontina cheese and another chuck of cheese I had never heard of but the sample tasted good, I walked up the sidewalk towards Lauren's House of Dogs. Well, it isn't actually a sidewalk yet. I walked up the crushed stone and around some form work for a future sidewalk.

They serve two kinds of hot dogs, Sabrett's and Old World. They also prepare them a handful of different ways including deep fried. I went with a chili dog and one with mustard relish and kraut. Both were deep fried Old World hot dogs. The chili was a meat and bean chili and not the typical meat sauce. Nothing wrong with that in my book, I didn't grow up here. I did prefer the mustard, relish and kraut dog though. It is a little closer to the dog of my youth. The plate came with a few pickles too. I'd say the dogs were above average, not stellar. I like the place though. It had a very nice feel to it. If I had it to do again, I would have asked for toasted buns. The option is available, I just didn't make the request.

Very friendly people working there. It has been open for about 2 months. I was, however, the only customer during the 15 minutes I was there. I'm sure having the sidewalk torn up and construction delays on Delaware Ave aren't helping. Quite selfishly, I hope they are doing OK. I'd like to go again. There is a list of things on their menu I'd like to try: fries, onion rings, collard greens, dog with onion sauce,  the Hot Dog chimichanga  style (I have no idea what this style is) to name a few. There are also a few things I hope they add. First and foremast, is bacon. I didn't see it on the menu and I'm so used to not seeing it anywhere around here that I honestly didn't think of it until I was eating the chili dog. Crumbled bacon under an average deep fried dog makes it significantly better. The second is a true Chicago Style hot dog. If you are offering Chicago Style hot dogs, really do it. Do the special bun, pickle, sport pepper and celery salt. Offer up the real deal.

A little blog side note: I took these pictures with my cell phone since I didn't have a camera. These photo's represent my first "out in public" blog pictures. Wasn't sure I had it in me.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mmmmm, Beer.

Since it has been hot lately, I thought it would be nice to have some beer in the house. I usually don't keep much beer around. I tend to stock up for a party, then slowly drink whatever is leftover. Last week I was in Price Chopper looking for a Saratoga Lager they serve at the curling club. It was there, but a six pack was close to 10 bucks. Then I saw this mini keg of Newcastle. Five liters for $19. A twelve pack of Newcastle was around $16. Not a tremendous saving (I think it is like 2 extra bottle), but there is no bottle fee and the keg is recyclable.

I picked it up and have been enjoying pints while screwing around on the computer. In case you pick one up, be warned that the spout drips a little bit after a pour. I tap it to get a few extra drops of beer into my pint glass and keep a plastic cup under it. The keg says the beer will keep fresh for 30 days. Luckily, that will not be an issue.

Cute and beer don't really go together...but this thing is cute. Hopefully beers other than Heinekin will follow suit.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend Sausage

In an effort to "get my head out of the wood fired oven," I wanted to make some sausage. I made the trip out to Henry's Meats in Waterford. Nice store. It was pretty busy so I didn't waste the counter person's time asking questions. I'll save those for another visit when the store is less busy. I liked the market. Had a nice feel to it. There were a number of specialty sandwiches available and they sounded good. Unfortunately, there was a lot going on that day and I didn't get to spend the amount of time in the store that the place deserves. I bought about 7 pounds of bone in pork butt and a few pork chops for the grill later in the day. I broke the pork but down into 1 inch cubes. When I was done trimming, I had about 5.5 pounds of pork. I divided it into 2 bags - one for sweet Italian sausage, the other for a kielbasa.

Thursday night, I seasoned the meat for the kielbasa - salt, pepper, garlic, and marjoram. On Friday, after everyone went to bed, I got to work. It was a little after 9:00 - and yes this is about as exciting as my Fridays get. I seasoned the meat for the Italian sausage - salt pepper and toasted fennel seeds. Then I rinsed out casings. Ground the Italian seasoned meat and stuffed it into casing. I over stuffed a few and cracked the casing. Nothing major, just a little less pretty. Cleaned that up and ground the kielbasa meat. Once it was ground, I fried a little and tasted it. It was pretty good. So some water gets added to the meat and it gets whipped with the paddle attachment of a mixer for a minute or two. Then I stuffed it into casings. I left myself enough casing on to tie it into a ring. Looked like you could buy it in a store. My older daughter has started taking digital pictures of the occasional rabbit that hops through the yard. On Friday night, I had no idea where the camera was, so instead of pictures of grinding pork and stuffing sausage, I'll offer you this:

At 10:50, I was almost done cleaning up. Not bad time - I think the cold beer I was nursing helped. I was at the sink with just a few more things to clean and then...the lights went out and I heard a pop. Shit. I got some candles and finished cleaning up. Moved the sausage I had just made to the chest freezer - I wasn't losing those. The lights came back on around 7:30 the next morning and I was glad I had put the sausage in the freezer. They had a slight freeze, but were not frozen solid. And later in the weekend, they hit the grill.

They all came out pretty good. I will definitely be making that kielbasa again. In the end, I still think Cardona's has the best pork butts and I will find my way to Henry's again.