Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Modernist Bacon and more demolition

Work in the kitchen progressed today, but before that happend I had to get the Modernist bacon hanging. The pork belly spent a week curing in a vacuum bag. Now it will spend a week curing in the fridge before smoking.

The pancetta will cure a few more days before I take it out. I think I'm going hang it next to the bacon in the basement fridge and see how it turns out. Work progressed in the kitchen today. Here is an afternoon shot.

And again this afternoon.

I'm gong to miss you most of all, Kitchen Sink.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Extrememly Scientific Girl Scout Cookies Study

The first round of cookie orders are due on Wednesday. Sales are continuing but if you have already placed an order, that order will get submitted this week so your cookies will arrive in the first truckloads delivered to the Capital District. The kids did a pretty good job selling. In this round of sales the two of them sold 152 boxes of cookies. Being the spreadsheet nerd that I am, I had to break down the sales and I am scientifically counting each box sold as a vote for the buyer's favorite Girl Scout cookie. At this time, the voting is over and all precincts are reporting. We now go to Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Girl Scout Election Headquarters in Atlanta for the results:

The Thin Mints win it in a landslide. Not even close. This was a pretty random sample covering teenagers working at an after school program up all the way up to senior citizens. Although my brother Mike may have skewed the results a little - he bought a case a thin mints to hand out as gifts. But he just padded the victory. The thin mints had it before he ordered.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Let the demolition & dust begin

Spent a few hours knocking tiles off the wall on Saturday. Made a little bit of progress.

Not all the tile came off easily. Probably not supposed to see that insulation behind the stove. My bad.

The current plan is to get the rest of the tile off tomorrow and Tuesday before 3. That's when the contractor is coming to remove the existing counter top and make his template. Once the template is made, it will take a few days (up to a week) to cut the stone and then get back here to install it. During that prep time, I am going to do my best to put up new or mostly new sheet rock on the walls. I want to be done before the counter is installed. Hopefully it won't be too bad.

Unfortunately, the counter top removal also includes the removal of the sink. So no sink or counter top for up to a week. Hello paper plates and take out.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Night Dinner Art

I call this series Black Weber Kettle Grill At Night as seen by my crappy phone.

Dinner is served.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A new look in the kitchen

We are considering replacing the tile counter tops with this stone. You know, so the pictures of food that I take for this blog will look better.

And because we hate the tile. A lot.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sausage from the trimmings

I took the flap off the pork belly and a few other trimmings while making the bacon lat night. Tonight I groun the pork with salt, fennel and black pepper. The bowl of sausage will get made into sausage and broccoli with cavatelli tomorrow night.

The pouch of sausage will get frozen and come out to top my next attempt at pizza. Not sure when that will happen, but I've been catching my brick oven bug again. Summer in February is coming up so I'll get to play with a little fire and a BBQ pit. Maybe that will scratch the itch. A new tile floor is being installed in the lobby of the building I work in. I'd be lying if I told you I never entertained the idea of sneaking out of the building with the contractor's obscenely nice wet saw. The saw is actually an older model, but nicer than the one in the link. The water pan looks better. With the right blade, I know it would slice through fire brick without flinching. I've been a good boy though and just drool a little bit every time I walk past it...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Makin' Bacon Again

The pork belly was a bit smaller than I was expecting. Instead of being closer to 13 pounds (which I thought was a bit big) this one was a little under 10 pounds. So instead of making bacon 3 ways, I dropped it down to two ways - Modernist Bacon and Pancetta. I didn't think the brisket flap would cure well so I sliced it off. With the trimmings, I'll get about a pound of sausage for some future dinners. Here's what I picked up at Adventure In Food on Monday afternoon. You can see my toes at the bottom of the pictures. I'm on my tip toes trying to get the whole belly to fit in the frame.

Here's the portion I cut off to make the Modernist bacon. This piece weighed in at 2767 grams (about 6 pounds). The Modernist recipe calls for a belly with the bones still attached. I'm not sure why. It wasn't an option.

Once I had the weight of the pork belly, I could measure out the rest of the ingredients. Some corriander got toasted before grinding.

 With the exception of black pepper everything else went into a bowl that I just kept zeroing out on the scale. You've got salt, sugar, cure#1, Fermento, mace star anise, and sodium erythorbate.

The belly gets rubbed with most of the cure and sits for 10 minutes.

While it was sitting, I tried to get my new vacuum bags that are extra wide set up. These bags were the only real problem I had tonight. It's always something. Not sure I'm ready to give up on the bags yet. I think I figured out a few tricks that will help next time. I wouldn't recommend these bags yet either. Here it is all sealed up.

Once that was in the fridge, I weighed the belly piece set aside for the pancetta. It weighed 1048 grams (about 2.25 pounds). I was hoping for a little bit more but the pancetta is easy enough to make again. And making it smells so damn good. This is Jason Molinari's recipe. Here's the cure: Salt, pepper, brown sugar, cure#1, juniper berries, bay leaves, thyme and some garlic. The combination smells really good.

Here's the pancetta vacuumed up in a pre-made gallon bag. This was much easier. Worked on the first try.

So now we wait. In about a week or so, they'll both come out of the bags. I'll have to find a place to hang the pancetta but the bacon will spend another week in the fridge before smoking.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The weekend

The big pork belly I want is not in my house yet. I was supposed to get a call on Thursday telling me to come get, but I have not heard from Adventures In Food. I'll give them a call tomorrow and hopefully they will have it. I've also been on a stew kick. The last one came out great. Instead of trying to duplicate it, I'm in the middle of trying something I saw Jacques Pepin cook. How bad could that be? In theory, we'll eat that on Wednesday. Unfortunately, the "we" in that statement is just me and the Missus. The kids refuse to eat anything stew-like.

On Friday, we went to Defazio's for pizza. I felt a little too self conscious to snap a picture because we were sitting in front of the register and Ray was constantly taking phone orders. I don't think you could find a calmer, friendlier guy to work the front end of a pizza shop. And he knows everybody. At 5:15, it was a 60 minute wait for pickup and all the tables were either full or reserved. The pizza was great. And the kids drank some root beer so they were thrilled. I've got to get there more often.

On Saturday, we braved the cold and went to a Girls Scouts Ice Skating Party at the Swineburne Skating Rink. That place is pretty cool. After several attempts Allison got some skates on and gave it a shot. She did pretty well. Casey couldn't find rentals that fit her and was sidelined. After the skating we stopped for a quick dinner at the Gateway Diner. Very friendly service, but the food was nothing special. To me, one of the non-breakfast tests of a diner is the turkey club with fries. Like I said, nothing special.

Sunday, we headed north to my in-laws, hung out, stacked some hay, and moved some grain. These steers are nothing like the last two. They would have ran into the field and not come back for 3 hours if they saw me (a stranger to them) in the barn. These two just looked at me curiously, ready to go if I moved toward them, but preferring not to run if they didn't have to. We drove back after dinner and Casey passed out in her car seat. It all starts up again tomorrow...I should probably go to bed.

If you have the time, Mr. Dave is looking for a comments war. Stop by and give him hell. I did, and it was fun.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Albany Distilling Company

I saw on Table Hopping that the Albany Distillery just got their still. I'm kind of excited about this and looking forward to trying some of their stuff in a few months. I signed up for the newsletter too.

I hope they give tours. That would be a great reason to leave work early...like you really need one.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Grand Theft Ham at Price Chopper

I was robbed. earlier today.

The Price Chopper in Latham has a little deli touch pad where you can place your deli order, go shopping and then come pack in 15-20 minutes and pick the order up. Usually, the system works great. Huge time saver. But twice, I have fallen victim the theft. A few months ago, someone walked off with my whole order. Just gone. Poof. I had to stand there another 20 minutes to get the order.

Earlier today, I was in the store, placed my deli order (quarter pound of hard salami, quarter pound of ham) and went shopping for the week. I was number 77. About 20 minutes after I placed the order, I heard "Deli order 77 is ready for pickup" over the PA and started walking my cart back to the deli. When I got there, easily within 5 minutes of the announcement, the salami was there but the ham was gone. Both the ham and salami were checked off with a Sharpie by the deli staffer that prepped the order. The two bags of cold cuts would have been loosely taped together. Someone freakin' stole it. When I brought it to a staffer's attention, their face had a "not again" apologetic look so it must happen pretty regularly.

Now, I will be able to work through this supermarket violation. Sure it will probably take a few therapist visits, but I'll get over it and feel safe in the supermarket once again. What I really want to know is where the line is for this kind supermarket thief. This is not your typical shoplifting. This particular thief knowingly stole something that someone else had ordered. So my questions for you Mr. or Mrs. Schmuck: I know you are guilty of deli theft, probably also guilty of bringing 30 things into the 15 items or less line before slowly writing a check and you probably live somewhere filled with office supplies that mysteriously vanished from your workplace. And my guess is that you rationalize this deli theft by telling yourself that you are paying the store for the cold cuts so you really aren't stealing. But you selfishly stole 10 minutes from me today. They must be valuable because you couldn't be bothered to waste them waiting for your own order. Not sure how many other people you delayed or stole time from at the counter. Where do you draw the line? Would you pick something out of another shopper's cart because you can't be bothered to find it yourself in the store? Would you lie about pre-ordering a turkey at Thanksgiving? What about a cake? Would you take an ordered cake? Are you doing this in front of your kids? What about at work - are you stealing lunch meat out of that fridge too?

Quit taking stuff that isn't yours.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bone with saw, flesh with knife

Awhile ago, I supported a successful Kickstarter project on butchery. The first video is out and it is on breaking down a pig. If you ever had any interest in seeing how it is done, you couldn't ask for a better video.

On The Anatomy Of Thrift: Side Butchery from farmrun on Vimeo.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Just back from the Troy Farmer's Market

I just like walking around the market. I wasn't sure what kind of time I have to play with food this weekend so I skipped the seafood stand. Allison enjoyed picking out a bunch of apples from Saratoga Apples and we split a waffle while I waited in line for a coffee from Spill the Beans. I'm a wimp and pretty much only drink decaf. But the waffle...holy crap those are good.

In other news, the Modernist Bacon project is currently on hold. Adventures In Food was unable to get me a pork belly this week. It is supposed to be coming in this Thursday.  I've been reading American Pie, Peter Reinharts book on the search for a perfect pizza. Strangely, since I've started reading the book, I've been craving pizza. I believe the book was also the start of his Pizza Quest blog. There are some great web-isodes over there. I'll have to make a post with links someday. I think the web-isodes will eventually become a PBS series.

In other, other news...anyone want to buy some Girl Scout Cookies?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Boom goes the dynamite

We were testing a few beams at work today. The beams were removed a bridge that is currently being replaced. Turns out if you center about 85,000 pounds on these beams, they break. It was pretty cool, but quieter than I thought it was going to be.

In Modernist bacon news, I have all the ingredients at the house now except pork belly. Tomorrow, I am supposed to get a call from Adventures In Food to let me know my pork belly is back in stock. I think it will weigh 12 to 13 pounds. My current plan (which is very subject to change) is to make 4 kinds of Modernist recipe bacon, 4 pounds or my typical bacon using the Modernist technique, and 4 pounds of pancetta. I am almost out of pancetta and that can't be allowed to happen.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Local Lettuce

I saw this lettuce in Hannaford or the Fresh Market this weekend and bought it. A package of local, living lettuce complete with Steve's phone number on the label. I should have taken more pictures. There was a cool root bundle at the bottom.

I used the lettuce in a salad with dinner tonight. It's pretty good lettuce. If you were making some kind of lettuce wrap, these leaves would be perfect that. I'd get it again. Well done, Steve.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Showing my age

Earlier today I was grocery shopping in Hannaford. As I pushed my cart around a corner I saw a display stand and for some reason my eye was drawn to a Taylor Swift picture. I thought, "Taylor Swift put out something on vinyl?!? And you can get her record at Hannaford?!?! That's crazy!"

Turns out it was crazy. Upon closer inspection, it was a calendar. Ouch.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Toxic Friends and Other Holiday Adventures

Toxic Friends are the best and every New Years we head south to Maryland to see ours. When you are with a Toxic Friend, you eat too much, drink too much and have nothing but fun. Even when the kids are crabby. But before we traveled south for New Years, there was Christmas. The holiday gluttony started Christmas Eve at Aunt Carol's and Uncle Lou's house. A good portion of these perogies were fried up and were basically served "All you can eat" style with a complete ham dinner and a bottomless bowl of shrimp cocktail.

That's what I'm talkin' about...

After Christmas, we had one night at the house before we loaded up and headed to Connecticut to surprise my mother with a late birthday party. She was quite surprised to see everyone show up randomly at the Trader Joe's she frequents. I don't have any photos of the surprise dinner, but it was a unique pot luck smorgasbord of Trader Joe's items we picked up while we were there.

The next morning we set off for Maryland to visit Toxic Friends Joe and Adrienne and their kids Olivia and Nate. We arrived on Thursday the 29th and I was actually kind of hungry for dinner. We got take out from a place called Habib's. The store is part coffee shop with store made bagels and kabob joint with the most amazing tandoori bread. Approximately 5:00 PM on that Thursday was the last time I felt hungry until earlier today (the 3rd). Granted, the lack of hunger did not stop me from eating. The biggest feast of the weekend was the New Year's Eve dinner. The first stop was at a Cosco.

I have always like BJ's, but now I have been to a Costco. I have shopped in a Costco. BJ's, you're no Costco. You can get fresh buffalo milk mozzarella in there and lots of organic stuff. The selection of gadgets electronics, and bulk household type stuff is better too.

From Costco, we went to Frank's Seafood. This place is amazing and really might be the ultimate seafood market.

The place was packed with customers preparing for New Year's celebrations. I spoke with a few people and we were not the only ones that drove half an hour to shop here. Everything in the store is super fresh. Albany could really use a store like this.

After another quick stop in a Martin's Supermarket (yet another place that is nicer than what is currently available in the Albany area) we went back to the house to get cooking.  Here are some of the appetizers. These shrimp kicked ass and I ate a lot of them. The bacon wrapped scallops didn't make it into the picture. I ate a lot of those too.

Here's Joe's new wine aerator thingy. You pour the wine through, it makes a cool sucking noise and gets some air into the wine.

Dinner is served, steak from our steers and roasted asparagus.

We also had some proschiutto wrapped asparagus.

A salad to add a slightly healthy look to the table.

Steamed lobster

A big pot of clams, mussels, scallops, and shrimp cooked in garlic, olive oil  and white wine.

Look at that freakin' bowl of seafood. The broth was insanely good and there was plenty of bread to sop it up. The leftovers got turned into an excellent New Year's day soup.

John, Jen and their son Joshua joined us for the festivities. They brought a bread pudding for dessert (recipe by Emeril). It was excellent.

And when you topped the bread pudding with the bourbon cream sauce, it got better than excellent.

To make the sauce, you use a slurry of bourbon and cornstarch. I don't think it would have ever occurred to me to make a slurry using something other than water. Makes perfect sense. I also had a bunch of Bailey's during the trip. Hadn't had it in years. There's something delicious about a Bailey's on the rocks.

A superb toxic weekend. If you don't have Toxic Friends, I suggest you go out and make some immediately.