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Everything posted by tikidoc

  1. When building our last house (one that I mourn leaving, it was my dream home with a killer kitchen and a HUGE pantry) we put in an outdoor wood pizza/bread oven. I got a full set of detailed plans from Alan Scott, who literally wrote the book (The Bread Builders) on this type of oven. Key thing for the internal lining of the oven - firebricks abut one another. No grout. At 800F+, grout falls out. I made a point of telling the masons about this, and told them to read the plans carefully because this is not the same as building a fireplace. They proudly finish the oven - 1/4" of grout between each brick. Had to pay a guy who worked for Alan Scott in the past to drive up (around 300 miles round trip) to "inspect" the oven because the masons told me it was fine. Of course it was not, confirmed by the expert, and they had to rip out the guts of the oven and initially wanted to be paid to do so and rebuild it correctly. Um, no.
  2. Diana, the easy solution is to just ask for your check if the guy is still eating when you need to leave.
  3. I have had good success using Cooks' Illustrated's suggestion of brining and then butterflying the turkey, and placing it on the top (flat) part of a broiler pan than then sits over a disposable tin pan full of dressing. The turkey cooks quicker this way, the dark meat stays moist, the skin is crisp, and the dressing is flavored with turkey drippings. The backbone is removed when butterflying the turkey, so this, plus the neck and giblets, are used to make the gravy.
  4. Wow, it's nice to hear from someone else who lived there. I was there in '87-88. An interesting time politically, I was there for the coup attempt in the spring of '88. And thanks for the cookbook recommendations. I have Recetas de mi Suegra on my Kindle. I need to get the one you recommended. I worked at the STRI lab on Isla Naos, so I went through Fort Amador on my way to work every day, and have been to the Yacht Club several times. I loved how they would wrap the palm trees on the causeway I used to go to lunch at the little restaurant at the YMCA in Balboa several times a week, because I made almost nothing as a lab assistant, and it was cheap. Excellent tamales, the big square ones wrapped in banana leaf with lots of culantro (not cilantro!) and a big piece of chicken in the middle. They also had excellent chicken fried rice, which the Panamanians who went there inexplicably doused in ketchup. As far as other cheap restaurants, there was a place on Via Espana that had fantastic soup and pressed sandwiches, similar to Cuban media noches, that the bank workers downtown frequented. There was a great Argentine place that served whole corvina grilled with TONS of garlic, but I can't remember the name of the place. For nights out, several of us often went to El Trapiche on Via Argentina for dinner (tamale de olla!!) then next door to Manolos for coffee and churros (apple filled were my favorite). I also remember a place called Las Tinajas, where they had women dressed in the Polleras doing traditional dances - it was beautiful and the food was very good. There was also a really good German restaurant that was a special occasion thing, but I can't remember the name of that one either. Of course, anyone who visited Panama had to go to Las Cascadas just once for the experience. The food sucked but it was worth it to see the spectacle of Las Cascadas and to read the terribly translated menu. When we would go to the countryside, I loved to get the fire roasted cashews in the little paper bags. And I agree about the produce. We would make a weekly trip to the big fruit and vegetable market. The street food - hojaldres and patacones in the little places on Avenida Central. The pipas (immature coconuts) that you could get for a quarter - the seller would lop the top off with a machete and stick in a long paper straw, so refreshing on a hot day. Porto Bello was gorgeous. And the flight to San Blas scared the crap out of me, landing on El Porvenir. I loved going there though, staying at the Hotel San Blas on Wichub Walla, in the little thatch huts. They made the best spiny lobster and coconut rice. My typical weekends, when I wasn't working, consisted of at least one day lying on the beach at Isla Taboga. The round trip ferry was just a few bucks and there was cheap beer at the restaurant hotel. So do you have any good favorite recipes from Panama?
  5. Back in the late 80's, I was lucky enough to spend a year living in Panama City, working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research institute (STRI) as a research assistant. While there, I fell in love with the food. The best tamales I have ever had (and very different from Mexican tamales). Fantastic ceviche. Wonderful, filling soups. Some of the best Chinese food I have ever had, believe it or not, since many Chinese helped build the Panama Canal, so there is a large Chinese population. Wonderful fresh breads similar to Cuban breads. Wonderful fish dishes with coconut from the San Blas Islands. A sort-or tamale casserole called tamale de olla. I have not been able to find either a good Panamanian cookbook or a good Central/Latin American cookbook with a decent selection of Panamanian recipes. I have found a few recipes here and there on the internet, but none I have really loved. Does anyone know of any good cookbooks with Panamanian recipes? English preferred but my Spanish, although rusty, is good enough to do OK with a Spanish cookbook. Thanks!
  6. Yes, I have done several searches. There are an overwhelming number of threads that mention vacuum sealers, the topics wander tremendously, and a large number of them here concern the chamber vacuums, which are more than I want to spend. I have spent about 3 hours cruising through the threads and still have no idea which one would work. We have a FoodSaver that is a few years old and it has never worked well. What do I want it for? Right now, mostly for freezing food - meat, chickens (we raise a bunch of our own every year), summer produce, and some leftover meals (like when I make big batches of something). I am not currently doing any sous vide but I want to leave that option open. As soon as we sell a house (we recently moved), I will be remodeling our kitchen and will likely get a smallish "water oven", but not right away. But I want something that I can use to make sous vide meals in the future. I understand that the non-chamber sealers can't do as much, but until I really know that I would get my money's worth, I would rather go with a more moderately priced model. Potential ones I have found, the Tilia GameSaver (from Pleasant Hill Grain, $200), Sinbo (good reviews on several sites, uses cheap bags), VacMaster Pro 130, SnorkelVac VS-280 (cheap bags too), Best Vac from minipack®-america, and the Sous Vide Supreme brand. So, input as to the best machine for me? Any others in my price range that I missed? Thanks for any help! Jess
  7. Thanks, Country, for some reason, I just could not come up with the word Cryovac!
  8. I have not used this processor before, but my understanding is all the meat will be in flexible vacuum packages, like you often see with larger cuts of meat (whole tenderloins or briskets, for example) in the big box stores. We have used to other butchers (in another state) and that is what we got. Stuff stays good in the freezer longer, and less chance of freezer burn.
  9. That makes sense. I was thinking hanging weight. In any case, if your experience is anything like mine was you will be amazed just how large and unruly a hog that size is on the butchering table. No I won't, because I will not see the pig until he is in neat little vacuum packed packages! The chronology - I pay the farmer, the farmer delivers the pig to the butcher, the butcher processes the pig, I pay the butcher for their services and pick up the packages! I'll do my own chickens (not happily) but that's my limit!
  10. Country, no hurry, the hog doesn't even go to the butcher until the first week of December, so we won't have it until a couple weeks later. And we are never growing Cornish crosses again. They stink, they have a really high mortality rate compared to other chickens, and they are just disgusting creatures. Not worth it for the meat, and when I eat them I just picture those nasty creatures wallowing in their own poop. I threw away the skin when I ate them for that reason. Blech. Vengroff, I contacted the farmer and this is what she said: " I used the formula on this site http://www.thepigsite.com/articles/541/weighing-a-pig-without-a-scale. He has a 53 inch girth and 59 inch length. Using the formula 53 inches squared gives me 2,809 multiplied by length gives me 165,731, divided by 400 equals 414.33 pounds. His weight. Hanging weight is usually 75%, this web site says 72%. So multiply 414.33 pounds by 72% and that will give a hanging weight of 298.52 pounds." And "I do feed different than the average hog feeder, not too many have milk cows to feed raw milk We do not feed garbage. They are feed quality grass and grass hay too, I eat them too so I am feeding them what I want to eat. My hogs do not smell because they are healthy. I have heard hogs fed garbage and on concrete and small pens can stink but mine don't. They are tame and love scratches so they live a good life outside on dirt not concrete where they can be hogs. Another thing, mine actually have room to get exercise." Looking forward to non-supermarket pork.
  11. Country, I think the two most important ingredients for Cuban pork roast are time and good pork. But I'll dig up the recipe I have used and post it here. It's been a while since I made it. And I'd love a recipe for pork liver. I don't think I have ever eaten pork liver. Come to think of it, I think all the livers I have eaten have been from birds (or one kind of fish). And yes, we have been to Polyface once, even briefly met Joel Salatin. He seems like a real character. We recently moved from a small farm in the Johnson City TN area to another small farm about 1/2 hour west of Richmond, 3 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake in August. Anyone want to buy a beautiful custom log home with a killer kitchen on 22 acres in TN, LOL? Anyway, we stopped at Polyface once on a trip between TN and VA. It's a fascinating place. Way off the beaten path - you have to take all kinds of narrow twisty roads to get to the farm. Looks kinda dumpy, honestly, but remarkably efficient in use of resources, and pretty doesn't grow livestock. One of our "to do" projects is building a chicken tractor based on Salatin's design, which is a moveable pen that you can use to have the birds pick over the manure of the cows and horses, making for healthier birds and pastures. Maybe next spring, when we get some broiler chicks. We just have a small flock of laying hens at the moment. We also learned from him about a breed of broilers that we want to try, the "Freedom Ranger", which puts on weight fairly quickly but acts like a fairly normal chicken, unlike the Cornish crosses used for most commercial birds. We raised a crop of them for the freezer once and they were freaks. They literally did not walk, just sat next to their feed bowl and ate and crapped in one location. No interest in "free ranging". Anyone who lives in this part of the country who has an interest in farming, either as a fellow farmer or as a consumer, should try to stop by Polyface at some point (or at least take a look at Salatin's books).
  12. Sorry, the word "closely" was a typo, should be close-by. Autocorrect strikes again. And yes, we have a pretty big freezer. It fit most of a year old steer last year. And we have a couple old refrigerators we have acquired over the years that can be put into service if we need a little more freezer space. Not sure on the size, I am going by what the farmer told me. Even if quite a bit smaller, the price is reasonable for a heritage breed pig (actually a cross of two heritage breeds), fed a diet that makes for healthy eating. I guess we'll see once it goes to the butcher. Our local high-end butcher (who is awesome, by the way, but I can't afford him for every day) who buys mostly local grass fed animals for his shop (including from Polyface Farm, which is fairly close) charges a lot more than what I will be paying for the pig and the butcher, even if I cut the estimated weight substantially.
  13. For those thinking of getting one of these ovens, sign up at Bed Bath and Beyond and they will send you a 20% off coupon for one item. They sell the Breville oven for $250, so the coupon gets it down to $200. I really love mine. I have even based ciabatta in it using the convection setting. It does a great job and heats up very quickly. I need to put my oven thermometer in it to check temperatures, but as far as cook times, it has been spot on with most recipes, so I suspect it is pretty close. Jess
  14. Wow, thanks for all the suggestions - I'm taking notes for the sheet that goes to the butcher - they have a sheet you are supposed to fill out, but I'm going to attach an extra sheet. I'm going to try to keep pretty much everything, so yes, feet, head, etc. I've never had feet but I'm willing to give it a try. I'm asking for skin-on wherever possible. Avaserfi, the pig is a 9 month old Tamsworth/Gloucestershire Old Spots cross, raised primarily on raw milk and pasture - minimal grain. Old Spots get pretty big so I guess he takes after that side of the family! As for how we use pork, it is really pretty variable. We do pulled pork, roast Cuban style, grilled tenderloin. I recently picked up a book on charcuterie and we have a ceramic smoker (similar to a big green egg) so we are planning on doing our own smoking and curing. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a good and reasonably priced vacuum sealer for home use, so I think I will ask them to cut the primals into manageable chunks. No steaks but maybe 3 big pieces per side of the loin (bone in) and the shoulder and hams cut into ~5# pieces. The sides, I will get whole, since we will likely smoke/cure one side at a time. Keep the advice coming!!!
  15. We recently moved to rural Virginia, and have found a local farmer selling whole pastured hogs and we are buying one, about 400# on the hoof. They will deliver to a closely USDA approved butcher, and I could use some suggestions as to how to instruct the butcher, and any good resources online, so I can get the most out of the pig. In addition to the major cuts, I'm planning to ask for the extra fat, the caul fat, soup bones, probably some skin, and for all the scraps to be packaged in pieces rather than ground, so I can grind it myself for sausage. Any other tips? And good ideas for things to do with pig organ meats? Is it worth taking the head or should I just stick with the jowls (hubby is a bit squeamish about the head)? Thanks!
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