Jump to content

Blair P. Houghton

participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Blair P. Houghton

  1. On the imperviousness of aluminum oxide, well, it's not. Acids typically act as reducing agents, stripping away the oxide (that's why a batch of tomato sauce cleans up your steel pans so nicely). But, once it's dry, the aluminum will react with the air to replace the oxide layer. And aluminum's food-chemistry tricks aren't limited to ordinary acids. Just for fun, boil up a batch of hotdogs in an aluminum pan, then leave the hotdog water (minus the dogs) in the pan overnight. The schmutz you'll find floating around in the water the next morning is aluminum nitrate, precipitated by the reaction of nitrates (hot dog preservatives) with the aluminum in the pan. The aluminum oxide layer didn't stop it. As most have noted, the reactivity of aluminum isn't noticeable in most cooking, but it's there. The point of anodizing aluminum is to take the oxidation process one step further, creating an oxidized surface that really is impervious to food chemistry, and most mechanical attacks. Anionic detergents like dish soap won't hurt it, but the cationic detergents in your automatic dishwasher can erode it over time, and you can actually buy products designed to strip anodizing from aluminum.
  2. Steak is ambiguous. Rare is too. Steaks come in all kinds of cuts and thicknesses, with and without bones, and with varying degrees of internal fat (marbling). All of these affect how the steak will turn out given the same heat and the same time. For example, leaner meat will cook-through faster than well-marbled meat. Meat near the bone will cook slower, which will be noted sharply by those who do not like any rare meat. Rare is a wide range of results. It goes from cold-centered with visible veins of congealed fat (yummy with tender USDA Prime beef, unappetizing with lesser meat) to a sort of bloody pink. But this is a good thing, because it means you have a broad tolerance for temperature and time that will still produce the red, raw center you like. And for any doneness in the center, there will be a gradient of doneness between there and the surface. The question is how narrow can you make the band that you don't want. When not taking it to Pittsburgh (nearly charred outside, almost totally rare inside), I personally shoot for a seared exterior, a quarter inch of pink, and the rest lukewarm red. That's 2.5 minutes per side on my grill, but grills are of course another ambiguity in the system. I can't do Pittsburgh on my grill, for instance. I have to pay the big bucks at a place that has Prime meat and a serious supply of BTUs. You're right to go by internal temperature for the first one. After that, you'll have positive reinforcement, and will figure out your gong-fu soon enough.
  3. That's pretty much how it works. Check out the Usenet groups for AA, alcoholism, and recovery, too. And don't forget the wetware resources.
  4. Nice read, even if the denouement had the flavor of a writer taking off in a hurry to get a drink... Brings up a couple of points: 1. I'm on the trail of the Sazerac myself, and coincidentally sidetracked into Manhattans while I wait for the ingredients to become available. As I'm thinking of using real Absinthe (the authentic choice), I won't have to worry about Herbsaint, but the Peychaud's bitters are a bear. I can either wait until the sole local liquor store that stocks it gets theirs, or I can go to the Sazerac Company website and order a bottle. I have no doubt I'm only trading time for money, as I have no doubt that's precisely where the store buys it, though they might get a wholesale discount to go with the volume savings on shipping. That's where the Herbsaint comes from, too, btw. The anise liquor is reportedly not in the original cocktail, so if you're trying to hit for the historical cycle, you need to try one without it, and then one with Absinthe, and then one with real Absinthe, if it can be found anywhere on Earth any more. 2. Rye. I could go on for days, and somewhere around this website I may have, about Rye. Suffice to say, many groceries will stock Jim Beam Rye, which comes in a bright yellow label. Wild Turkey makes a Rye in 80 and 101-proof models, which is available in at least one grocery near me, and several liquor stores. Old Overholt is the third-most-popular brand, and I have yet to try it, though I have seen it on the shelf, once. Rye makes the Sazerac and the best Manhattans. It's due for a comeback. 3. Nigglings of alcoholism. I've had my own doubts about myself, but, well, it turns out I'm a savant, not an addict. I'll get just as obsessed about root beer, orange soda, then plain water, then rye, then diet coke, beer, red and white wine, and so on. Alcohol is a flavor and I have a non-debilitating epicurean OCD. Knock wood (and check the specific gravity of the hooch that's aging within). But I didn't know this until I presumed I was an alcoholic and falsified that hypothesis. There's a whole universe of resources on the web to help you gauge your caste within the addict world. It can never hurt to check them out, call some experts, maybe go to a meeting or two, just to see; and it can help, a lot, to the point of adding decades to your life while saving you fortunes and relationships when your obsession turns towards detective work about your own personality. A real alcoholic is in denial, so his own research is suspect, and the objectivity of others is valuable.
  5. Where is your room? A room in France will be warmer than a room in Scotland, for instance. And it sounds like the "almost-seized ganache" was light on liquid, and was almost seized. Though butter brings a little water, so maybe it's intended to un-seize it. What's the recipe? And where was it developed?
  6. I totally concur. I don't even like sitting three seats away from people who are ordering the things. But then, I'm often working over a Black&Tan at the time, so I have my own hypocrisy and guilt to help me decide to keep drinking...
  7. Once you aged it, it wouldn't be "vodka" in my book. A vodka that was distilled from grain and then aged in wood would thereafter be "grain whiskey," one distilled from grapes and aged in wood would be "brandy" and so on. Not sure there is any precedent for an aged distillate of potatoes, so I don't know what that would be called. I should point out that all these wood-aged formerly-vodkas would be very uninteresting compared to regular aged spirits, because they would have had all the character distilled/rectified out of them when they were made into vodka. ← Whisky recipes specify an upper limit on the alcohol content before aging. Vodka is distilled until the alcohol and water are azeotropic (i.e., their proportions are such that the boiling mixture releases water and alcohol vapor in the same proportions as are in the liquid, so it never gets stronger), at about 190 proof; then it's diluted with water. So aging that would be slightly different from aging whisky. In exactly the way you point out. They'd be very slightly about the spirit, and mostly about the wood. Balsamic Vodka, perhaps?
  8. Blair P. Houghton

    Taddy Porter

    I just tucked into one and it had none of that. Creamy to start, yummy to finish.
  9. Does it have to be all at once? ← And does it imply a causal relationship?
  10. Mexico is very much a "tied house" country. The bar and/or beer store will either carry Groupo Modelo products or FEMSA** products, because, usually, that's who owns the place. (It's illegal for brewers and distillers to own bars in America. Guinness built a pub in Tempe, Arizona, then found out and had to change the name and ownership, but of course its being an Irish bar means they're still covering several of the taps. They're just not making a profit on the boxty.) So you have to plan your cerveza crawl carefully if you have a preference. * - Corona, Modelo, Pacifico, et al ** - Tecate, Dos Equis, Carta Blanca, et al (interestingly, they also brew Coors Light for the Mexican market)
  11. I "discovered" Shiner Bock in a tub of ice at Sonny Bryan's in Dallas in the summer of 2000, and fell in love. It took a few months before it was available in bottles in Phoenix, and it turns out it doesn't travel well. It develops an edge. Not quite a skunkiness, but the smoothness is roughed up a bit. Then a couple of years later the distros made a push and it started popping up in bars around town -- and on tap! But again, it had that "export" tinge to it. And then it waned. I can always find it at the grocery store, and most bbq joints, but most of the bars have rotated other things into their precious keg-room real estate. This morning, a good friend left to move to central Texas. I'm looking forward to contriving a late-summer trip to visit her, or maybe during Bocktoberfest. We want to do the Shiner nursery tour and then I can taste the brew in its creamy infant state.
  12. Watching a ballgame, digesting a chili burger, swilling a Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter. Don't get no better, bra.
  13. And would anyone with experience sampling Callebaut products like to make a comparison?
  14. I hope it's totally out of season. The only local supermarket that stocks them loose in the produce section had them at $49.99/lb last week... if that's the in-season price... hoo... It's a good thing I'm not a fanatic. --Blair
  15. Night before last: Black Bush, rocks Last night: Knob Creek, rocks Tonight: something what probably rocks maybe i'll try my hand at a sazerac or a manhattan we'll see
  16. I'm a cyclist but not a diabetic, and I'm curious about that yogurt break. Yogurt without sugar added is fairly low in carbs of all kinds (only a few grams per serving). Your body stores 1500-2000 calories in glycogen, which is 400-500 grams of carbs*. Slapping 7-10 grams from cup of fro-yo in there won't make much of a dent in your chances of bonking. If anything is helping you, it's stopping to eat it. What you need is starchy stuff with a buffer to keep the glycemic hit from activating your diabetic problem. (At least, from my non-diabetic POV that's what I think; your doctor may throw his clipboard at me.) Or a constant infusion of complex carbs. This is the first article google returned for "prevent bonking": http://www.trifuel.com/triathlon/nutrition...aces-000515.php I'm not saying that's the panacaea, but it's a more detailed (and a little spammy) example of the sort of thing I'm talking about. And since that sort of thing is, in fact, food, and, in fact, a "meal", I see no problem at all getting down with it here. I wouldn't mind a bit if it turns into a discussion of fancy-restaurant attempts to create meals with targeted macronutrient ratios. There's a tiny deli around here called the Fitness Cafe that caters to gym rats and publishes ratios for each item and offers most in different styles (extra protein, low-carb, etc.) I think it's time the better places started paying attention to the fact that not everyone wants to have to write a book on the server's pad to get their chateaubriand accessorized properly for their current training regime. Man...this sucks... my shoulder's messed up so I don't want to aggravate it on my bike and it's really nice out there today and I come in here and someone's posting bikie stuff on a foodie website... pure torture... --Blair * - riding in a pack at a long-race pace is roughly 400 cal/hour; riding solo at time-trial pace will be 1000 cal/hour and up.
  17. It kind of bothers me that everyone keeps duping this link on various fora. It's as though we assume that CEO's are a form of aristocracy privileged to act with noblesse oblige. They're just people. Sometimes good people, sometimes bastards. They got where they were by selling product and themselves. And the idea that waitstaff are magically special fairies granting opportunities for self- aggrandizing kindness is galling as well. If the waiter is a jerk, the waiter deserves anyone's disdain. If anyone treats anyone as an inferior without provocation, they're a jerk. And if a CEO needs a pat interactive litmus-test situation, if he can't figure out that the person he's with is a jerk from general behavior, then that CEO is going to be conned by most of the con-men who try to con him. But somehow this juxtaposition of the anointed and the servile has meme-wormed itself into most of the places I go to read and discuss opinions. Which I think says something about how we're starting to sense the impending feudalism being created by those running the "free world" these days.
  18. Yikes. Remind me not to waste steak on you...
  19. If you look farther down the page they say that it's "tri-ply construction", so I think it's the one that Cook's Illustrated chose to replace the All-Clad as their top recommendation.
  20. As I read further, I saw that by "warping" they meant a slight bulging of the bottom of the pan at deglazing heat, which isn't that high. If you're not deglazing in a lot of liquid, that could cause some uneven results as things flow to the edge; maybe to the point of making it impossible to deal properly with the fond in the center.
  21. That makes me think of something about cities. Each building is a little vertical neighborhood, a tiny town of its own, with heavily overlapping outskirts. So on a normal day, if you go out to the street, there are a lot of strangers out there, going from their town to another. But if it's snowing hard like that, not as many people make their full trek. So you know the people you meet are closer to you; they're your real neighbors. Maybe that subconsciously improves the cameraderie. Or maybe it's just the fact that finally something is different in their dreary lives dragged down by the expense and pain of living in such a crowded place. Can you tell I live somewhere else? Anyway: on topic: I just got my first french press (Bodum Brazil 3-cup (12-oz/360-ml; it's wee), $12/€10 at CostPlus) a couple of weeks ago and I'm digging it. I also got a cheap ($30/€25) Mr. Coffee conical burr grinder and it works a lot better than the reviews indicated. Maybe I'm doing something wrong wrong. I also got a Mr. Coffee mug warmer for 10 bucks/€8.40 at Albertson's on impulse while I was looking for beans, and it works great. Technique: While the teakettle boils up enough water, put one 2-tbs/11-g scoop of beans in grinder and burr them up fairly coarse (E was way too coarse, leaving halves of beans in there, so I'm down to a C-D now), and dump all into carafe (don't even have to remove the ground-collector lid for this, saving on mess). Pour just-off-boil water (210F/99C at 1100 ft/350 m alt.) onto grounds to a pinky-width above the logo. Start 4-minute/2.8-milliday timer. Place seive in carafe and secure lid. Swirl entire doohickey to submerge grounds. Dump a little sweetener into mug (sometimes just blue stuff, sometimes a short shot of Torani sugar-free chocolate syrup, sometimes also a little nonfat milk which then gets a warmup in the microwave). Go swing golf club (I got room in my empty livingroom). Come back and wait for beep. Swirl again. Press plunger gently. I'll never get why anyone would scald themselves on one of these. They're not understanding the principle. This isn't an espresso maker. Pressure has nothing to do with French Press coffee. It's nothing more than an immersion brewer with a fairly quick straining process, so you can strain all the coffee right at the optimal time. Then you should dispense it all. Leaving the water in there doesn't "stop the brewing process", because water can go through the seive easily and continues to extract from the grounds. If you a> use the proper grind size and b> swirl before pressing and c> press gently (like 3+ seconds rather than a half a second or less) you'll get the grounds out of the way without clogging your filter and creating a pressure that can crimp the seal and cause a spurt. You could simply tip the thing and let it strain without pressing, but that could take a minute or so to drain, so using the press is slightly more precise, but doesn't have to be so fast that it becomes dangerous. Rinse the strainer and carafe right into the sink with the disposal on so it pumps the grounds down the pipe. The only catch is that grounds can get caught between the plastic frame and the mesh, so I unscrew the frame a half-turn, holding the little plastic ferrule behind the mesh, and rinse under the frame. Takes two seconds, and it's flat-out clean. Set it all in the drying rack. Grab my mug and head upstairs to set it on the warmer and post about it.
  22. I think America's Test Kitchen did roasting pans last year. Yup. I just looked at the Cook's Illustrated website and there's an article from July. To save you the trouble of logging in, they picked the All-Clad Roti first, but then decided it warped on the stovetop and now say the Calphalon Tri-Ply does better (then give a cryptic note that says its name might have changed, or it might be discontinued; can't tell which). Bonus points for switching from a $279 pan to a $100 one. Frankly, I get by with those $2 tinfoil jobs from the supermarket, but I don't need one much.
  23. If it was me, I'd go the other way. The oldest restaurant in Paris No way am I missing the chance to nosh in Ben Franklin's old haunt.
  24. If it was me, I'd schedule all three BBQ joints, both Italians and both tea rooms. BBQ in Missouri is a given as a chance worth taking. Every BBQ joint not named Dickey's or Famous Dave's is either a little or a lot different. There's some wierd association between St. Louis and Italian food that I've never quite worked out, so maybe the ones in Sedalia would be interesting. Okay, so maybe I wouldn't end up in the tea rooms after all. One of those cafes might be old-school, though, so I'd do some detecting there. --Blair
  • Create New...