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Smithy

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  1. You mean like this? It was pretty good. It's also more than I've eaten in the last two days. Now I need to go put my feet up for a post-brunch snooze.
  2. Smithy

    Rice Cookers

    Does "perfect" rice, in this context, depend on which variety of rice you're cooking and what you ask of it? I sometimes us jasmine, sometimes basmati, sometimes something else altogether. I generally go for fluffy rice rather than sticky, but I'm curious about whether a good rice cooker will do either, with any variety of rice.
  3. The problem with Navel oranges is that many varieties have an enzyme that breaks the sugars down pretty quickly after cutting. I learned this the hard way when I juiced a bunch for breakfast, an hour or so before we actually ate. Our orange-growing, orange-loving family all tasted and immediately stopped drinking the juice because it was so bitter. My father said, "Honey, don't you remember that?" and gently tweaked me for the mistake. I've had the same problem with using navel orange juice to cook into a sauce. Until a few years ago I thought this was an unvarying rule for Navels, but in recent years I've found a few varieties with juice that holds as well as the Valencias. I haven't worked out which ones. I do know that if I'm going to use Navels in a fruit salad I'd best plan on eating it quickly or adding fresh pineapple, which juices seem to counter the Navel enzymes. If someone can point me to more information about the chemistry and the varieties involved, I'd love to see it. I've found passing remarks about the newer varieties lacking that enzyme, but nothing definitive. If @russ parsons were still coming by here, he might be able to point me to a UCRiverside article or three.
  4. Thanks, demiglace. Mac 'n' cheese 'n' ham for dinner. It looks like a dog's dinner, especially in the photos, but it's good. My darling is having bread with it, but I didn't...and I'm off to bed now.
  5. Here's the money shot. Not bad! The holes could be bigger and the flavor more complex, but for once the crust is fairly evenly done. Usually with this oven I have to take an axe to the bottom crust. I'm also happier with the shape of this loaf than I have been with previous, all-too-flat loaves.The test slice was good with butter...but then again, what isn't?
  6. Right now, I wish you could smell the trailer. It smells like a bakery. A good bakery. I decided yesterday to make a yeasted bread from the Barrio Bread flour blend from Barrio Bread. I hadn't tried baking with it yet. I think this is a blend of Red Fife and Hard Spring Wheat but no Sonoran White Wheat, but they aren't saying on their web site. This was a straight method, lean dough from a Peter Reinhart bread-baking class I took a few years ago. The trailer is cool and as the afternoon wore on I realized I wouldn't actually be baking the bread yesterday. I put it outside, covered, where it would stay even cooler. We took care of the ham: sliced it into sandwich slices as well as smaller chunks, and separated out the leftover potatoes and ham jell. There is a LOT of ham jell. Unfortunately, it's almost unbearably salty. Maybe it will be usable in small amounts. I've been feeling under the weather the last couple of days, and after this work had been done I decided I didn't want any dinner. We'd had salad for a fairly late lunch. This morning, the bread was looking pretty lively. I shaped it, fired up the oven, and started baking. I did a few things differently than I've done with this oven before: put the rack in the middle row despite fears that the loaf would be too tall for oven spring; put a couple of ice cubes into the oven well before the bread went in, and then more when it did; began with about 20 minutes at 450 and then another 45 minutes at 350 until the internal temperature was at least 97C. Clearly, I still need work shaping. Even as under-the-weather as I am, it smells wonderful. I've been letting it cool, so the interior can set. I hope it tastes as good as it smells! Money shot later, for good or ill.
  7. The whole arrangement is coming together beautifully! I love the clean lines of the cabinetry. I agree with you that figuring out where to put things is a big challenge.
  8. Split pea soup is my darling's default treatment for ham bones. I agree with you that a ham bone by itself isn't enough for split pea soup - or bean soup, for that matter, which is my preference. For that reason we'll be watching carefully as the stock of meat goes down from this ham. I'll be snitching pieces for snacks and he'll be saying "remember to save some for the soup!" I wonder why the East Coast and the Midwest lean toward dried peas instead of beans? Does it have to do with which crops grew more easily in those areas, when settlers relied more on what they could grow?
  9. That looks like what we used to be able to get, and the price is about the same. The picnic ham was always a "cheap" cut of meat, and that was part of its attraction. One meat packer we spoke to said there just wasn't any money in that cut any more (because of people's obsession with lower fat in meats) and that he could make more with the meat by putting it into sausage. Thanks for the sous vide notes. I'll have to try that sometime. @chromedome, we also like smoked pork hocks. Fortunately they're still easy to come by in the northern Minnesota area. We generally braise them with potatoes and add sauerkraut near the end. They're also excellent in, say, a bean soup. What do you do with them?
  10. When I was growing up, I didn't like ham. Well, sometimes I liked ham but only on very rare occasions. As I got older (I'm not sure I've grown up yet) I came to realize that the ham I did like was what we call a Picnic Ham: cut from between the shoulder and the shank, cured and smoked. It's fatty. It's smoky and salty, and it needs no water product added. It has chunks of skin and fat and gelatinous goo, if it's done properly - and it seems almost always to have been done properly. If you aren't sure what cut I'm talking about, see here in rotuts' picture and look just below the pig's shoulder. (Actually, I'm not sure that a picnic ham MUST be smoked, but it always seemed to be cured well, and I never encountered pineapple or cloves stuck to it. Pork is sweet enough without that stuff, in my opinion. But I digress.) Sometime in the last few years, picnic hams disappeared from our markets. We looked around. We asked the knowledgeable butchers. The younger butchers, even those who are 3rd-generation butchers, didn't know of what we spoke. The oldsters knew, and shook their heads sadly: "nobody wants that cut any more because they don't want all that fat," they said. The entire section below the shoulder roast was being used as trimmings for, say, sausage. We found one or two things labeled "picnic ham" in a supermarket, but they didn't measure up. We think they were fakes cut from the rump. Finally, we found a custom meat market near where my darling's daughter lives. I have no commercial interest in Amor Pork, but I have a vested interest in seeing that they continue business! They raise their own pigs and cows, and have their own store. Yes, they knew how to do a picnic ham. Yes, they could get it smoked. How big a ham did we want? This was a test, to see whether we liked their product, so we asked for 1 ham cut into 2 pieces. We cooked the first half earlier this fall and immediately wished we'd gotten more. It was cooked slowly in a low oven, with potatoes beneath to soak up the juices. When we tried it, we thought we'd died and gone to heaven. We've been saving the second half for this trip. Planning to pack a 7-pound picnic ham in the Princessmobile carries its own issues. The first ham had been cooked in my Le Creuset enameled cast iron pot, with a bottom and side layer of potatoes. Nothing would do, said my darling, but to make sure we could cook the second ham the same way. The pot had to be deep enough to accommodate that layer of potatoes. The normal batterie de cuisine of the trailer has deepish pots and heavy pots, but no deepish heavy pots large enough for that ham. So we had to find a place for... ...my Le Creuset 6-quart Dutch oven, one of my first purchases when Fifi, God rest her soul, was hypnotizing a bunch of us into buying this stuff. (How I miss her!) Fortunately, there's a lot of under-bed storage in the Princessmobile. Today was the day. It's been raining off and on, mostly off, but cool. We had thawed the ham a couple of days ago in anticipation of cooler weather. I unwrapped the ham...beautiful, isn't it?... and made sure it was as packed with potatoes for insulation as possible... ...stuck a couple thermometers into it and the oven, set the oven for 260F (as low as it seemed the oven could go) and basically ignored the cooking for the afternoon. The aromas wafting through the trailer were maddening in their hunger-inducement. We did chores. We went for walks. We realized that we'd had a brain-fart about internal temperature, and removed the ham at 203F or so. What were we thinking?! Well, I didn't think it was too badly overdone. He didn't think it overdone at all. I could see evidence of strand separation, like overdone corned beef. We both had seconds. We also managed to eat salad. I'm off to make notes now on what we did this time and what we think we did last time. We'll be having ham sandwiches, a mac-and-cheese-and-ham dish, and then split-pea soup with the remainders.
  11. Hello, Leanne, and welcome to eGullet! You'll find there are a lot of culinary professionals here: starting, active or retired; front or back of house; pastry chefs and restaurateurs and writers. And then there are happy amateurs like me. As you look around the forums I'm sure you'll find topics where people have already asked and been given advice. In general, those sorts of topics are most successful when people ask specific questions. If you have any questions about how to use these forums, or where to post, feel free to ask a host privately by PM or the general membership in the Moderation and Policy Discussion forum. Meanwhile: what do you especially like to cook and bake? Do you cook only for yourself, or do you have other mouths to feed?
  12. I love roasting eggplant over the fire, but I'd never heard of potlagel, in any of its spellings. That's a great read. I laughed over the bit about using yellow bell peppers instead of green, because I also dislike green bells and was wondering whether it would be heresy to use red. By the end, I knew I was safe. A tip I never thought of was to roast the eggplants and then freeze the pulp for later use. I do that with peppers and tomatoes, why not eggplant? Thanks for that link!
  13. Thanks! These are some of my favorite things that I've picked up during our peregrinations. They're Romanian, hand-carved in the early 1960's, made of some sturdy but light wood (birch? beech?) and as you see, hand-painted and -varnished. The story continues after the pictures.... A couple of years ago my best friends and I attended a Returning Peace Corp Volunteers gathering in San Diego. It was the chapter's annual meeting, with a pot luck and a silent auction. The items up for auction ranged from local ocean cruises to things brought back from countries other than ours. I bid on, and won, a basket titled "Let's Cook!" that included a cookbook, some skewers, other odds and ends, and these salad servers. Later, when I was paying for my winnings, a woman behind me said, "Oh, good! I was hoping someone else would enjoy those!" She had been in Romania in the 1960's, one of the first Peace Corps classes. These had been given to her when she left.
  14. Two nights ago I decided to try the chiles rellenos casserole from Seasoned with Sun, and realized that I had no milk! Not even powdered milk. I wasn't going to use the last of my precious half-and-half for that dish. As a fallback I set out to use some of the rice discussed above, along with some roasted tomatoes preserved in olive oil, in a stuffed-pepper dish. Then I realized everything was frozen and I hadn't taken it out in time to thaw. Plan C was a green salad with the last of the Campari tomatoes and some chopped red bell pepper, dressed simply with oil and balsamic vinegar. I added olives to mine. The hot portion was a package of stuffed pasta that is cooked from frozen, dressed with the last of a jarred pesto sauce and some grated parmesan. Yesterday I had more foresight. The rice and tomatoes were thawed in time for me to mix them into a stuffing for bell peppers to be roasted. The tomatoes are from @ElainaA's Slow Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce, which I highly recommend. Last summer when the cherry tomatoes started rolling in I made several pints of these, covered with olive oil and then froze. Other ingredients in the stuffing were the last of our summer's frozen corn, the last of the grated Hanford Jack cheese, and the last of a chunk of ground burger. We admired the spectacular sunset while the peppers roasted in the oven. The stuffing turned out to taste good but lack cohesion. A perfectionist would have peeled the peppers. Still, it filled us and I have leftover stuffing for some other purpose. Today, we drive to town for groceries. This time, for sure, I'll get milk!
  15. Welcome! It sounds like you'll fit right in here. I particularly love the idea that you were procrastinating on your work and stumbled over us...it sounds like something I'd have done, back in the day. (I came to chemistry via cooking, rather than the other way around, incidentally.) Do you and your wife generally share cooking duties? Do you trade off? What sorts of food do you like to cook and eat? I sounds as though you probably know your way around already, but if you have questions about how to use the forums or where to post, feel free to ask a host by PM, or ask openly in the Moderation and Policy Discussion forum.
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