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Everything posted by jeniac42

  1. Marlene, I have a hard time believing there could be ANYTHING in your cupboards that you don't know about and have labelled! I envy your pantry organization (I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it). I have only lived in this house for two years, so there isn't anything truly old or odd lurking about. I do have a package of some type of dried vegetable which I bought because I thought it was a certain seaweed I wanted, but turns out to be a type of flower petal or some such. I have no idea what to do with it, but I can't bring myself to just throw it away either. Does anyone know how long sauerkraut keeps? I'd think kind of indefinitely, but I got a Ziploc bagful from my CSA last October and it got shoved to the back of the fridge and forgotten. If it smells good, is it safe to assume it is good?
  2. Anything cooked in bacon fat is guaranteed to taste 100% better than it did before you put it in the pan. I don't have a lot of experience with rendering animal fats, and am thinking I should perhaps start saving my trimmings and start a collection. Chris, your method looks interesting and easy; do you recommend chilling or freezing the skin and fat before putting it in the food processor? It does seem that the flavor of the animal seems to concentrate itself in the fat. I don't enjoy working with raw poultry much, and birds aren't my favorite form of meat, though I do enjoy them now and then. And in particular, there is a certain smell to poultry fat that can induce my gag reflex. This doesn't seem to apply as much when I can source well-raised animals, but I still wouldn't say I like the smell. On the other hand, venison (the deer version, this from northern MI) meat smells sweet to me, but the fat is definitely gamey. If there is too much of it present, it ruins the taste of the dish for me; I won't eat it as I would pork fat - it doesn't soften in the same way, and it seems to harbor that unpleasant taste and smell. I now feel like I need to get out the old copy of McGee and have a lookthrough.
  3. So I finally thought I was going to make some bacon, as I found skin-on belly at Wholey's, but forgot I needed pink salt. I will have to look back through the thread as I have time to do so. Unfortunately my grocery budget grows tighter and tighter, and making a lot of these items seems like a luxury, which is kind of odd considering that they were originally meant to make use of off cuts and preserve things that might otherwise go to waste. I was thinking of using my new FoodSaver to vacuum seal the pork belly in with the cure - any thoughts on that? Or would it not allow the requisite escape of liquid? I did make some venison sausage last week, though I didn't stuff it into casings, having run out of them. The texture was slightly grainier than I'd have liked; probably a result of using belly instead of pork back fat which was unavailable to me.
  4. Ah Leung, the soy sauce-Coca Cola chicken looks good. I think I have some drumsticks in my freezer, so this might have to go on the menu for next week. I would love a big RV, too, and to drive across the country. I don't think that will happen anytime in the near future for me, though... but I can dream. Your Safeway looks like a nice grocery store. It kind of resembles our newly-remodeled Giant Eagle, which they call a "Market District". I still prefer to go to the specialized shops in the Strip District instead, where I feel I can get better prices and selection. Also, we can't buy wine in grocery stores here in PA, either - have to go to the state store for that. Bah!
  5. So it may not be too late for Clovis? I believe I last fed him on Saturday, so he may have died anyway. Here is a photo of what he looks like right now: As you can see, the liquid is on the top, not in the middle. There is no off smell, but I'm recovering from a cold... still, I've smelled fermentation gone wrong, and I think I'd notice it.
  6. The remainder of the cassoulet was FoodSaver-vacuum sealed and tossed into the freezer. I used a little bit of it for my favorite form of leftover soup, which is: Add some sauerkraut and chicken stock, and cook. It worked really well for this. I'd have liked to have had more beans, too. I used 10.5oz by weight of Great Northerns (dried) - next time will up the bean ratio.
  7. The oven finish seemed to work OK. The pork is not as tender and unctuous as I would have liked, but it definitely has good flavor, so I think it will find its way into burritos and the like rather than standing on its own. It's been FoodSavered and frozen. Thanks for following along on another Butt Adventure! I'll probably be doing another before the move to Michigan in May.
  8. I would love some advice on this, too. I tried to start a sourdough starter last week. I even named him: Clovis le Sourdough Starter. I followed directions I found online, which seemed simple: 1c of bread flour, 1c warm water; feed every 24 hours by discarding half and replacing with another 1/2c of bread flour and 1/2c of warm water. This was left to sit, uncovered, on my counter; my kitchen is slightly below 70F but it's not terribly cold either. The day I baked my no-knead bread, I thought I had achieved success, as Clovis was bubbling vigorously and had quite a nice foamy top. I suspect he caught some of the instant yeast from the no-knead. However, I fed him, and the next day he had turned into a lump of flour at the bottom and some icky looking water at the top; I stirred him together, fed him again, and the same separation occurred. I suppose it's time for a new strategy, eh? I'll be watching this thread avidly.
  9. Ahem: Ah Leung is beyond coat hangers! That chicken looks perfect. Bet M-i-l was very happy. Reminds me that I need to make it again. ← Oh no! I loved the coat hangers. What's different? I haven't been able to follow the forums for a few months... *hides in shame*
  10. Ah Leung, I love reading your blog. It also reminds me that I need to follow more of your pictorial recipes. Currently I can get a lot of Chinese ingredients locally (although it takes me a LONG time to find them, since I don't read Chinese), but after I move I think I will have a hard time finding them. I should stock up.... Also, there's that chicken on coat hangers again! That is my favorite kitchen MacGyvering ever.
  11. So I had a heck of a time keeping the grill at temperature. I think I was just klutzing it up on Saturday. By the time we were ready for bed at midnight, it was still just holding at 170F because the temp had dropped below 200F many, many times. I think I just hadn't accounted enough fuel for the cold external temperature. I got the grill temp back up to 230F and then left it when I went to bed. I got up in the morning and the butt looked nice, internal temp was around 30F so I figured it was probably safe and not going to kill me. I refrigerated it and I have it in the oven right now at 225F to try to finish it off. I don't know if it will work or not. I hope so. I'll let you all know.
  12. I just used Pam R's Chicken Soup tutorial on Thursday, and the resulting stock/broth/soup was really delicious. I'm not sure that's what you're looking for, but I'd recommend it.
  13. It's in the stall now. Has been for a good hour or so. This is only a 3.5 pounder (fundage low, only two folks to feed), so I'm kind of hoping it will be done in time for me to go grocery shopping before midnight. If not, I'll just have to brave the Sunday crowds. Sauce will be either a vinegar-based or mustard-based sauce, not really sure which yet. Sometimes I just go with a little straight Texas Pete, if I'm feeling lazy. To be served with coleslaw and baked beans (from a can - still never tried making those myself, probably should've done, on reflection). Leftovers for every other imaginable purpose.
  14. Oh holy whatsits, I am suffering from major, major pantry envy, Marlene. I am OCD (no, really - I have a photo somewhere of the spreadsheets on my fridge listing the contents of fridge and freezer) and hoooooo boy. That looks so tidy and orderly and NEAT. I am thinking of buying a SmartSpin if I don't get one as a present soon (been asking). I use a combination of (I think) Gladware, saved pickle jars and plastic containers (cottage cheese, sour cream, etc), and Mason jars. Also FoodSavered bags of stuff, but these are not uniformly shaped and are difficult to accomodate. I also suffer from a distinct lack of cupboard and pantry space, which is not going to improve much when I move to Michigan. I really would like to get square Cambros for my flour, sugar, rice, and other dry goods.
  15. Even in this fast paced economy, these products create the possibility of eating fresh fruit whenever the consumer wishes. Uh... huh. *snicker* Kim, I'm right there with you. I'm not sure I ever made it past age 7, though. Banana Bunker indeed.
  16. I always put my hair back into a ponytail thing when I'm working in the kitchen. Also for housework. I kind of hate having long hair because it gets all in my face and makes my nose itch, but I'm told it looks nice. Plus the time I cut it all off, I almost kind of cried (but also, I was working in a bakery with no air conditioning, in the summer). I also hate finding hair in food, so that's another reason.
  17. Oh, now THIS is a foodblog to look forward to. Even the introductory post was educational! I can't wait, Ah Leung! Your pictorials have been inspiring, and now... a whole week of New Year's celebration?
  18. Sure 'nuff. We have no designs on going anywhere. After work, I've got plenty of housecleaning and laundry that needs doing. I just lit a quarter chimney worth of coals and threw those on, though, to try to get it up to 200 again - it had fallen below that. Two and a half hours in, or thereabouts:
  19. I just cannot seem to get the grill temperature up above 200F. Time to chimney start some more charcoal and throw it on, I think.
  20. I agree. Slow braise. I use it to make sort of stroganoff in the slow cooker - a little water, some beef stock if I have it, maybe red wine or sherry, lots of onions, s&p. Cook it on low allllll day. Stir in the sour cream at the end. For some reason there've been cross-cut shanks at the grocery store all the time lately. I'm in heaven.
  21. OK, the cassoulet was one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life. Considering the effort (not really that much, considering) and the cost (fairly minimal), it's something I'll have to make again. However, I hope it freezes edibly - there's a ton of it. I'm having surgery on March 1 and will be incapacitated in the kitchen for a little while, so I'm hoping to have some leftovers. After six hours on the crock pot's Low setting, I removed the lid and transferred the cassoulet-to-be into a 275F oven. After an hour in the oven, it had developed a nice glaze on top. I picked out the head of garlic and the chicken bones; the bones were discarded and the garlic went into foil - I roasted it to spread on the bread. I crumbed up some bread from the Bread Graveyard (aka a pan with old bread left on it to dry and be used for stuff like this), using one onion roll, some baguette, and a little wheat bread, and pushed it onto the top. (not pictured) I left it in the oven at 275F for approximately two more hours (waiting on Zack to get home from work). It made the house smell really, really good. When I took it out, it looked like this: And plated. The salad is just green leaf lettuce tossed first with a little olive oil, then rather a lot of red wine vinegar, a bit of salt, and some pepper. Very tart, cut the richness of the cassoulet nicely. The bread is the minimalist no-knead, which was quite chewy. I could eat this again right now. I recommend the crock pot method, though never having tried the traditional, I can't give a comparison. It made it pretty easy; really no more difficult than making any chili or meat-based pasta sauce in the end. Zack loved it, too.
  22. The unbrined, unrubbed butt is about to go on. Just waiting for the kettle to settle into a good temperature. It's 11 degrees F outside, not too windy, should be good conditions for a nice smoke. Zack's never participated before, so this should be fun! I'm making him take pictures. OK, while I was writing this, the kettle was up around 250. I closed the top vents most of the way and it dropped to around 220, but of course while I had the lid open it dropped well below 200, so I goosed the vents open a bit again. Going to check on it momentarily, as I need to add more hickory chips anyway. Here's the beginning: And just for good measure, cold, sleepy me at the beginning of the process. Alas, no beer-drinking while smoking, as I am working, too.
  23. Unconscionably, I have failed to smoke another butt since that original one back in, what, June? I have a litany of excuses, but no more. There sits in my fridge a lovely butt, and I just checked the state of the Weber (excellent) and the Kingsford (seems dry). I have to wake up early and stay home all day because of work tomorrow, anyway, so it's butt-smokin' time! I can't remember if I brined last time or not, but I know I didn't use a rub. It's cold enough outside that I can throw the butt out on the balcony to brine. Any last-minute opinions on brining and/or rubs? I can hardly wait for Sunday's chile verde with leftover pulled pork.... Let's just hope I can get the grill up to temp and keep it there.
  24. OK, here is my progress so far. The cassoulet has been on the low setting in the crock pot base since about 10:30am. You guys said lots of pictures. First, we have my workspace before I made a mess out of it. The blue speckly enameled pot is the chicken stock I made last night and kept in the outdoor refrigerator (aka the balcony); crock pot; no-knead bread in square plastic container; Clovis le Sourdough Starter in mason jar. Next, the two chicken legs (from the stock-making) and cubes of fresh pork belly, rind removed, browning in some chicken fat: All browned. You can spot the pork rind to the left of the browned meat: Next, browning the venison sausage. I should have made smaller patties to develop more brown crust, but I was kind of hurrying here. The sausage was made with mostly venison, some ground pork belly, a little bread crumbage, vermouth, sage, savory, salt, pepper, and I think that's it. It has a good flavor, texture's a little crumbly though. The mirepoix minus celery, after sweating and getting slightly browned: The beans mixed with the onion, carrot, savory, tarragon, cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, juniper berries: Layered with the shredded chicken meat: The pork belly and sausage (of which there is rather a lot): Ready to go in the crock cooker, with chicken stock, some water, a couple bay leaves, most of a head of garlic, and the chicken leg bones: I've realized while posting this that I left out the tomato paste I meant to add. I'm going to go throw it in there now and see if I can manage to distribute it without getting everything all mushed up. It smells like heaven in here, it really does.
  25. The cassoulet bits and bobs are working now - got the meat browning as I work. One thing I wonder - is my crock pot liner oven-safe? That way I could just transfer it from the crock cooker to the oven. It seems like it ought to be at such low temps. It's just glazed ceramic. Hmm. (The cooker is so old the manual was lost owners ago.) And oh, it smells good in here.
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