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eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by gsquared

  1. Skin it is. Bubbles below, though. The mother is and was covered. In one of those snap-on lid plastic thingies. The preferment is not looking good: It has now been 12 hours. A few reluctant bubbles...... oy gvalt! Does this mean doom? I swear that I did not sing. Jack?
  2. Shows you what happens to you when age creeps up and memory starts failing! I have this theory that when you are over 50, you should never sleep on your side lest your brains dribble out via your ear.
  3. Thanks Anna. Your support helps a lot.
  4. Oh vey! The packaging says "Stone ground bread flour - no additives. Add 3% more water." The pupil awaits advice.
  5. Change of mindset required, you mean? Your comments demand some thinking. Which I will do forthwith (Allerverloren Cab 2003, $7).
  6. No more references to the supernatural, if you don't mind. I have confidence that Jack, using science and common sense, will do the trick. edited to emphasize tongue in the cheek.
  7. Thanks for all the good wishes. The mother starter appears to be live and well. Further instructions have arrived. I have mixed 10g of the starter with 100g strong flour and 100g water. This preferment is at 30C overnight. I am sceptical. I mixed the preferment two hours ago and it is just sitting there. If it had an eye, I swear it would be gazing balefully at me. I expected some slight activity, but Jack said to leave it for 12 hours. I will ignore it until then. The Artist has admonished me not to sing. She is convinced that my habit of humming 60's hits while cooking is the main cause of my baking problems. I am not convinced, but have decided to give this every chance possible. Deathly silence will prevail. Referring to the starter as the "mother" appeals to me. There is something earthy about it. I imagine an amorphous Willendorf patiently waiting in the fridge to be brought to yeastful life.
  8. My name is Gerhard and I cannot bake bread. That abject failure is not due to a lack of trying. I am reasonably comfortable in the kitchen and have never had a problem with cooking techniques. Bring on braising, roasting, sauteéing, velveting and emulsifying: I can hold my own and even now and then produce something edible. But I cannot bake a bread. This has haunted me for years. I have read more books on baking than you can shake a stick at. I have followed the EGCI bread baking course. All to no avail. My lounge has sliding doors opening onto a patio overlooking the Indian Ocean and I have taken to dropkicking my efforts through the doors onto the lawn. Where the seagulls, at least seemed to find the pathetic results palatable. Small comfort. I can dropkick a dense loaf pretty accurately, though. Practise does help. In short, I have decided that I am genetically unable to bake bread. I thought that I have reached the stage where I may as well give up. No point being a fool about it. Enter Jackal10. He read my food blog on eG, was somewhat indignant that I cannot bake bread and suggested that he send me a batch of his sourdough starter and coach me though my baker's block. I thought that the process may well be mildly interesting to my fellow gulleteers and intend reporting results here. The starter arrived by post and, according to instructions, was whizzed up with 100gm flour and 100ml clean water. It should now rest for 24 hours at around 30C. I have a salamander that, paradoxically, can be set to low temp. I have carefully monitored the temperature at the bottom until I got it to 29C. The agreed goal is to produce a baguette that I can incorporate into my breakfast offering at the guest house. Jack is off thinking. The starter is sitting at the required temperature. Place your bets. The game is on.
  9. The 5 Ladies Chicken Florentine was acceptable. Maybe they should not have used carrot and pumpkin as sides, colour-wise. The chicken was tender and the dish had a great depth of flavour. It reconstituted well. I would not serve it at a dinner party, but in terms of frozen foods, it was better than anything available in the supermarkets. I have to leave for Johannesburg tomorrow morning, doffing my innkeeper hat and donning my consultant hat. I still consult on stock market trading and analysis systems, and have been requested to attend an urgent series of meetings tomorrow and on Saturday. Veronica will run the business, with the Artist advising. Good opportunity to blood Veronica. I will tell her tomorrow morning that she has the helm and then head off to the airport at 8am. I am sorry that I have to terminate this blog prematurely. I have enjoyed it immensely and if in the process I have enticed some of you to visit South Africa, I am content. Perhaps the two days in the hustle and bustle of the big smoke will re-affirm my love for life in Wilderness. And at Mes Amis. End of blog.
  10. We have a really warm day today. 32C. Thank goodness for a light sea breeze. The foreign guests are slumped like red lobsters in their loungers. The beer consumption is way up, as is the mineral water, which we supply free of charge. In any event, tonight we will dine on the 5 Ladies Chicken Florentine. The girls produced 20 odd meals for freezing and it behooves us to do a quality check. Producing frozen food can be tricky. When we worked on the recipes and methodology, we hit up against a few unexpected snags. For example: we found that you cannot simply freeze cooked rice and expect it to reconstitute. The solution was to place two tablespoons of water in the container, then the rice, then the chicken. That provides sufficient moisture to soften the hardened starch coating. Here is Veronica and Miki velveting the chicken. I'll report back on the quality later. Vincent, who services my two Saeco coffee machines, has dug up a distributor of Russel Hobbs pod coffee machines. One will be delivered early next week for testing. I am sceptical of free placement of coffee machines, as that inevitably requires a contract for the supply of coffee. All sorts of variables to work on, if the coffee is decent. No, make that is the coffee is bloody good. I am not going to spend money unless it takes our in-room coffee to a whole new level.
  11. Goodness, Michelle, I have never heard of warka sheets! Research indicated. Three days, which was probably one day too long.
  12. Time to show you a bit of our town. (sudden memory from way back - I played the narrator in Thornton Wilder's eponymous play. First and last stage appearance.) Wilderness is bound by the sea, the foothills of the Outeniqua mountains and the Touws river. Population 6000. Here is the main street of the business area. We have a chemist, a small supermarket, a doctor, a dentist, a hair salon, a petrol station, a post office, a laundromat, 4 curio shops, 16 restaurants, bars and coffee shops and 6 real estate offices. The residential streets are tree-lined and colourful. The river winds peacefully through the village. The town square canopied with milkwood trees.
  13. The phyllo thingies did not work out. The phyllo pastry, which has been in the fridge for 3 days, had blue mould spots. Substituted a rosti. Pear poached in Pinotage (says well, does it not?) with blue cheese. Fried eggs sunny side up with rosti, rosemary lamb chops and balsamic tomatoes. Mushroom omelette with smoked snoek fish cake and a light curry sauce.
  14. One to keep the 5 x 5 liter containers of fruit juice and to hold the plated fruit. One for fruit and veg. One for dairy and cold meat. One for meat and fish. I really want a walkin, but the cost cannot be justified. The problem is that everything rusts. A stainless steel compressor and motor is expensive. We coat everything with a metal surface with silicone every two weeks. TV's and PC's have to be left on to prevent condensation on the PC boards. I wish I knew what yachtsmen do to protect their computers. Maybe someone out there knows. If so, please tell me.
  15. Ok. Here it is. This is the fridge in my personal kitchen. The ones in the breakfast kitchen (there are 4) are in much better shape.
  16. It was slightly more difficult than usual to heave my body out of bed. The Artists's fault. She insisted that we open another bottle of wine to lubricrate our discussion of the new boyfriend. Thing to do when you have to get up, is not to think about it and just get up. I am vertical, if a little bleary. I wanted to try one of the suggested recipes, but maybe it is best if I don't roll into production without a test first. If I screw up, I may run out of time. I'll go and stir things around in a bowl and see whether I get inspired. Daughter when last she visited.
  17. After nine. The weather is great- 23C and no wind. The stars are bright and methinks it is time to call it a day. There is still some Spier Cab ($6) left in the bottle. A wonderful smell permeates the house. I have poached some pears in Pinotage with sugar, nutmeg, 5 spiecs, ginger and cloves. Into the fridge. I will reduce the poaching liquid down in the morning. The fruit for tomorrow's menu will be a pear, with the reduced poaching liquid over served with a wedge of blue cheese. In the meantime, we will sit on the patio and talk. My daughter phoned. She will visit in two weeks time to introduce the boyfriend. Who is apparently nervous. This could be fun. The Artist and I need to strategise to get the most out of it. Life is great! Good night.
  18. If you are up to it, we'll carry on cooking until you cry uncle. We had a venerable German guest who would order both hot courses, then call me and say "And now, Gerhard, we start eating!" I produced, for the three days he was here, at least two additional hot meals. After the first day it was easy, because I prepared. He also holds the coffee record to date: 8 double espressos during the meal!
  19. No, Klary, salt water. Caught on lines during the snoek season.
  20. Dinner was not bad. Pan-fried pork chop with garlic mash, coriander and herb jelly. I have to start working on tomorrow morning's menu. No checkouts today, same crowd for breakfast as yesterday. I have some great lamb racks. I removed the fatty skin and underlying sinews and cut them up into chops. Beacuse they are almost fat-free, a quick sear will cook them. Copped up some rosemary, sprinkled over and turned to cover on all sides. This will rest overnight. We will then rub off the excess rsemary. The herb should impart its aroma to the meat overnight. We'll serve it with a cheese phyllo roll and sauteed vine tomatoes with balsamic. Saute in olive oil until the skin bursts, the add some balsamic and toss to coat. For the Chef's choice, an omelette with mushrooms and a smoked sneok fish cake with a light curry sauce. Snoek has been a Cape delicacy for a long time. It is often salted or smoked. The smoked version tastes like, well, snoek. Nothing to compare it to. We will flake it, carefully extracting the plentiful bones, add an egg well beaten with minced coriander and form it into flat round cakes. Fry briefly in hot butter until a crust forms and keep warm. Add red Thai curry paste to the pan, deglaze with cream, allow to reduce slightly and season.
  21. Hmm...Truffles. Even if we could afford them, they are just not easily available. Wild salmon. We get plenty of the farmed variety from Norway and these are the only salmon that we get fresh, not frozen. The Canadian or Scottish wild are inevitably frozen. Foie gras is difficult to source and then always frozen. We had a small handful of local poducers but they all got hounded into closing by the various movements upset at the production method. all we can get now is frozen. And then you pay through the nose.
  22. Pretty much the same as in your neck of the woods. Samp is something that I have not encountred elsewhere, though. It is very similar to American hominy or posole: both are de-hulled dried corn. For samp the corn kernels are crushed or broken into pieces and then cooked in water. Samp and beans (Umngqusho - the "gq" combination is a click) is a favourite among the Xhosa people, one of the major cultural groups in the Western Cape.
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