# Thursday, April 13, 2006

Sigh.  I don’t get why our culture encourages peole to think that somehow cooking (unlike every other learned skill) is just something you are born with.  Our chimpanzee ancestors didn’t (and hopefully still don’t) make flan, people.  It’s not instinctive.  So “I can’t cook” usually means “I can’t be bothered to practice”.  I don’t see how a tool like the one below is going to solve anything.  But then again, maybe that’s why everything tastes like chicken.
No amount of hours spent in front of Iron Chef and Good Eats will a good chef make, friends, but perhaps one might consider the employment of one MIT Media Lab experiment by Connie Cheng and Leonardo Bonanni: the Intelligent Spoon. This, um, intelligent spoon has zinc, gold, zener diode, and aluminum sensors to detect the temperature, acidity, salinity, and viscosity levels of the human-feed it's currently stirring, which it then sends back to a host computer for processing and direction. We're not sure this would help us to add a certain subtlety or trans-cultural flavor adaptation to the sweetbreads we were planning on whipping up tonight, but it might just do the trick in keeping you from over-salting that pancake mix on a Saturday morning. [via Engadget]

Thursday, April 13, 2006 6:15:33 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Vikki’s birthday was last week, so over the weekend we invited some friends out to my Dad’s place at Black Butte Ranch for a weekend-long birthday party and lying about fest.  Since my favorite thing to do while lying about is cook (and eat) I had tons of fun making way too much food.

Saturday’s breakfast was every kind of toast in the world (we must have had at least 5 varieties) and Parsi Egg Curry, which I learned to make from my Dad, who learned it while living in Singapore back in the day. 

Parsi Egg Curry

  • start sauteeing some onions, ginger, and diced hot pepper, I usually use serrano or jalapeno.  You can leave out the chilies if you like
  • while those are softening up, beat as many eggs as needed with a goodly amount of ground coriander, a bit of tumeric, salt and pepper.  I’ve occasionally used ground ginger too, in lew of fresh, but it’s not as good
  • after the eggs are all beaten, stir in some chopped fresh cilantro
  • when the onions et al are soft, add the eggs, and cook however you best like your scrambled eggs
  • serve with something sweet.  Works great with coffee cake, raisin bread, toast and jam, etc.  The sweet makes a great contrast with the spicy eggs.  My Dad always served with a cream-cheese and fruit filled, yeast risen “Russina coffee cake” and corned beef hash.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

Dinner on Saturday was dim sum.  I made the fillings, and everybody pitched in to help wrap up char shiu bao, pot stickers, shui mai, and spring rolls.  Dim sum makes a great dinner party theme, since everyone can be involved in preparation and cooking, and it’s too much work for one person.

Saturday night, I put some steel cut oats in the slow cooker, and by Sunday morning we had some very nice oatmeal, which we topped with freshly made apple crisp and dried blueberries. 

Sunday lunch was pretty much whatever was left over, since we had to clear out the fridge. :-)


Wednesday, April 12, 2006 6:43:53 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, April 03, 2006

This weekend Vikki and I got a chance to go to a Scotch tasting event put on by the Scotch Malt Whiskey Society of America.  It was held in the very lovely Ranier Club in Seattle.  We had fun getting dressed up and hobnobbing over dinner, lots of Scotch, and cigars (although under WA state law, you couldn’t actually smoke the cigars :-) ).  While not an inexpensive event, it was an oppurtunity to try some Scotches I otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.  I’ve been known to buy the (very) occasional ~$100 bottle of Scotch, but $250 – $300 is pretty much out of my price range.  Some of the real standouts were the Balvennie and Highland Park 30yr., the Balvennie 25yr., and a Talisker special addition 175th anniversay bottling.  The kind of stuff that would run you $25–$30 a shot in a bar, if you could find it.  The Macallan 17yr “Fine Oak” was also very nice, as was the Glenrothes “Special Reserve”. 

Anyway, much fun, good food, good friends, and some truly amazing Scotch to boot.  What’s not to like.  If you get a chance, and you’re into such things, check out their calendar of events on the website for a venue near you.

Monday, April 03, 2006 9:09:54 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The AeroGarden is a little self-contained hydroponic growing system designed to sit on your kitchen counter along with other appliances.  It’s a pretty interesting idea.  They have seed packs for things like salad greens, chili peppers, herbs, and cherry tomatoes along with flowers, etc.  For $150 it’s not the kind of thing I’d jump into right away.  Rainy Day Magazine has a blow by blow on actually growing with one, so I’ll check back to see how it works for them. 

It’s a pretty neat idea to be able to grow food indoors.  Since I don’t have a yard anymore, it’d be fun to grow stuff inside.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 7:36:25 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [2]
Over the weekend we were entertaining some out-of-town family, so I decided to whip up some chicken fried steak (or chicken fried chicken for our one non-beef eater) for breakfast to mark to occasion.  I’ve been experimenting with CFS for a while, and it’s been getting progressively (IMHO) better.  Having never seen a CFS until I went to college, I have some catching up to do.  I got some pretty decent quality cube steak, and coated them with flour-then-egg-then-flour, where the flour had some salt, pepper, and (my favorite) a little poultry seasoning added.  Fried up in very hot canola oil and kept warm in a low oven, they were ready and waiting for the sausage gravy.  I tried some Jimmy Dean “bold” sausage for the gravy, which was pretty darn good.  In a perfect world, I prefer the fantasic bulk sausage from New Seasons, but you make do with what you have (in Sisters, OR).  I used whole milk for the gravy (might as well go all out) and again added a touch of poultry seasoning.  Plain rubbed sage works great too.  The whole thing worked out pretty well.  And since we’d polished off quite a helping of biscuits and gravy and poached eggs the morning before, I was pretty sure it would be a crowd pleaser.  :-)
Tuesday, March 28, 2006 6:01:19 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]

I was in the mood for quick and simple last night, so I took stock of what I had on hand and picked up a few extras, and the result, BLT’s with the addition of guacamole, and some tomato soup.  Just plain good. 

I used my new favorite sandwich bread, the “Rockin’ Rye” from Dave’s Killer Bread, toasted.  One side got a little tofu mayonaise, the other a coating of some pretty good Costco-issue guacamole.  Inside was the usual bacon (again, Costco issue.  Not the worlds best, but pretty good) some organic iceberg lettuce, and some flavorful is a bit still organic tomatoes.  I long for summer heirloom tomato season…

Accompanied by some “Creamy Tomato Soup” from Pacific Foods, it made a darn fine, quick dinner.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 5:53:52 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Friday, March 17, 2006

Since I’ve been testing out my new iPod the last couple of days, I’ve been checking out some podcasts (the new iTunes/iPod support for podcasts completely rocks), and I found one that I totally dig.  It’s called “Eat Feed”, and it has all kinds of food related content, including recipes and (best of all) food history.  I listened to their latest show this morning, which focuses on winter-time “comfort food” but also has an interview with author Jackie Williams, author of the very good books (I’ve read them both) Wagon Wheel Kitchens: Food on the Oregon Trail and The Way We Ate: Pacific Northwest Cooking, 1843-1900.  Ms. Williams had some very interesting things to say about eating in the Northwest in the latter half of the 19th C.  Very cool stuff.  I had no idea that people in Washington State were exporting oysters to the California gold fields in 1850. 

Anyway, if you’ve got any way of playing MP3 files (iPods included) check out the Eat Feed podcast.

Friday, March 17, 2006 9:04:03 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, March 08, 2006

So I had this leftover pork, and needed to do something with it, so I decided it was the perfect candidate for pozole, which has got to be one of my all time favorites.  I made it a bit differently than I usually do, and the results (IMHO) were pretty darn good.

I started with some chicken broth (I like Pacific Foods organic), a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles, and a big (24oz?) can of Mexican style hominy.  That was followed with a chopped onion, and the leftover shredded pork.  For seasoning, I added one dried California chile (that I pulled out whole before serving) and some Mexican oregano.  Make sure you get Mexican oregano for this.  It’s a different plant from the Italian kind, and tastes quite different. 

That all simmered until the onions were transparent.  I served in big bowls with plenty of space for fresh garnishes.  I used cubed cheese (Cassero in this case), diced avocado, and shredded lettuce. 

Wednesday, March 08, 2006 5:49:34 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, March 07, 2006

My lovely wife got me a new slow-cooker the other day, and I was itchin’ to try it out.  Luckily, my buddy Greg turned me on to his pulled pork recipe, and it was just the thing.  And it couldn’t be simpler (best kind).  Basically, you put some pork, some onions, and salt/pepper in the slow cooker and cook the dickens out of it. 

In a little more detail, I put the pork (I had a picnic roast) and 3–4 sliced onions in the cooker with salt/pepper and maybe a 1/4 cup of water, then cooked on low for close to 24 hours.  After that time, shred up the pork with a couple of forks, slather with BBQ sauce of your choice, and go to town.  I serverd over sourdough hoagies with pickled jalapenos.  Baked beans would have made a good side, if I’d have thought of it.  :-)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006 9:46:21 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, March 03, 2006

This one was a big hit.  I was being lazy, and it turned out for the best. :-)

I started with a box of Pacific Foods’ beef broth, added a can of diced tomatoes, and some Costco frozen Italian meatballs.  Once that was all hot, I dumped in a bunch of spinach (I like the prewashed baby spinach) and just barely wilted it.  At the last minute, I tossed in some torn up fresh basil, which gave it a really nice smell.  Served it up with a loaf of New Seasons’ fabulous Como bread, and all was good.

Friday, March 03, 2006 5:59:14 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]