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  1. Auspicious

    Dinner 2018

    Accepted. I have a little trouble with the concept of "undercooked" broccoli since I think it is dandy raw as long as fresh. I can see an easy garlic sauce for dipping fresh broccoli. I suppose in principle broccoli soup is a puree and I do like broccoli soup. I do agree with you that overcooked broccoli is anathema.
  2. Have to love libraries and by extension librarians. Which for some reason leads me to a question. We mostly use pints and quarts; my wife uses 4 oz jars for jam. What do people use half-gallon jars for? When I see them I want to buy them for no reason I can put my finger on other than being a boy. *sigh* What would I do with half a gallon of pasta sauce? What do y'all use them for? Big families? The only suitable use of okra - throwing it away. *grin*
  3. Auspicious

    Dinner 2018

    With all due respect to your partial culinary heritage other to show one can, why puree broccoli? I mean, would you puree the pork? Here I have been sticking up for British cooking for the last twenty-some years and you go and post a picture of broccoli puree. Jeepers. *grin*
  4. My wife has been running our dehydrator for a couple of weeks with no end in sight. She's still working on basil I think. Maybe a third of the way through the herb garden. Yesterday we made pickled carrots and bread and butter pickles, both for water bath canning. Janet made some kind of soup (I had a project in my lab and missed that part) that together with my carrot and ginger soup will get pressure canned today. We bought a small chest freezer this year. It has had a big impact on shopping and frankly on the organization of our kitchen freezer. My wife has made a number of things while I'm traveling to freeze now that we have space. We both like canning for shelf stable storage but the pressure canner gives her the heebie-jeebies *grin* when on her own. With the new chest freezer I'm going to have to take another look at what we can run off our little generator during power outages. We are getting pretty close to capacity.
  5. The problem with grape leaves is that people who like them REALLY like them. Put them out, turn around, and *bam* they're gone. Making stuffed grape leaves takes a little practice so you don't tear them. For me making stuffed grape leaves is like a drywall project: by the time you're getting good at it you're finished. *sigh*
  6. Thank you for asking @Darienne. I'm very happy to share. I'll start with cabbage soup. My approach to cabbage soup is much like the apocryphal story of stone soup. The biggest issue I have with such recipes is that if you use conventional measures you end up with extra cabbage or a shortfall. I start with a head of cabbage. Big, small, moderate, whatever. I'm also a mise en place guy so everything gets prepped before starting to cook. Dice the head of cabbage into bite-sized chunks. One inch on a side works pretty well. Dice an onion (moderate size cabbage, moderate sized onion - there is a trend here). Rummage through your refrigerator and counters for anything you don't have a plan for. The things that work best for me are carrots, celery, and peppers. Some people like green beans (fresh are fine but I'm not fond of frozen) and/or okra (I hate the stuff but there is no accounting for taste). Frozen peas are great. Scrub, peel, dice the other veg. A little oil in the bottom of a stock pot and saute the onions and some diced or minced garlic. When you can smell that the onions are caramelizing (just after they become translucent) add all the cabbage and stir it about until it wilts. This is usually where Netflix distracts me and I have to scurry back to the pot. *sigh* Add stock (I use chicken broth but vegetable broth would be fine) until the cabbage is just covered. Stir and add the rest of the veg. Add more stock or water if there is veg poking up. I'll digress here for a moment - I am a low salt person. I use either home made stock or Kitchen Basics no-salt-added. YMMV. This is a taste issue for me, not health. I just want to taste my food, not extra salt. There is plenty of salt in most foods for me. Pepper, oregano, thyme, cumin, curry powder. I eyeball all this so I don't have numbers. If you are going to can this just simmer for a while, say 20 minutes before processing. If you are going to eat it or freeze it simmer for 10ish minutes and then add pasta - I like bowtie - and simmer another 15ish minutes.
  7. I'm on a roll here: vegetable soup, French onion (doesn't freeze well - see below), lentil, mushroom, minestrone, split pea, barley soup (with chicken or sausage), cabbage, black bean, fennel carrot, .... The nice thing about soup and bread is you can feed people real homemade love-laden food and honestly say "we just pulled this out of the freezer." That's the problem with French onion - it doesn't freeze well. Now if you send them all home with homemade lollipops (impressive by the way) you'll really be something in the neighborhood. The Candy Lady IS the Soup Lady. *grin* My wife and I each stopped at the grocery today while running work errands and we find ourselves with a LOT of carrots. I was going to pickle some tomorrow anyway. I'm thinking a good batch of carrot soup as well since the canner will be out. I'm going to need more jars. *grin*
  8. Accuracy is more important. You want the legs to be the same and the differences with a little pad. Precision measurement to hundredths of an inch doesn't keep the stool from wobbling if you have a rubber ruler (or one of those folding ones with worn out hinges). This actually comes back to cooking. For example Thermapen thermometers measure to tenths of a degree (that's precision) but are only "right" ±2°F (accuracy) according to the manufacturer. A measurement within a tenth of a degree in a four degree window isn't very meaningful.
  9. I'm going to chime in to support blue_dolphins idea of soup. It's hard to be more casual than soup and bread. Super easy to prep ahead and you can pick and choose based on the weather - something warm and hearty on a cold weekend when people are facing an afternoon working outside and something cooler when the weather is hot. Potato soup, chicken soup, gazpacho, tomato soup, boeuf bourguignon (okay it's a stew), bouillabaisse, ... lunch with you would have a consistent casual theme and you might find yourself known as the "soup lady" around the neighborhood. There are worse nicknames. I was the "snow plow guy" in a previous neighborhood, which worked out pretty well. *grin*
  10. Absolutely correct. The difference between accuracy and precision is more important and less subtle than a lot of people think. Much more important than most people think. The third leg of the stool is repeatability.
  11. Not really. Try pears, oranges, peaches, raspberries, or maybe mango. Prosciutto is the classic accompaniment. You don't like that. Boiled ham? Your cheeses are very mild so salami would be fine. Summer sausage would be fine. Unless you have a slicer or mandoline pre-slice for presentation. If you're just hanging out a hunting knife and chunks are fine. So really two kinds of cheese. Fine. Remember to let the cheese come up to ambient temperature before feeding it to anyone. The tastes will be better. Fig jam is usually paired with a soft cheese like Brie or Mozzarella, even Boursin. With moderately hard cheeses you might have a better experience with French bread rather than crackers. Is it too late?
  12. Auspicious

    Boat Cookery

    One of the presentations I give is called A Delivery Skipper Cooks. Some of what I have expressed in this thread is included. It is worth noting that much of cooking on a boat is really not different from cooking anywhere else. Heat works the same way. A saute is a saute. Baking is baking. What is different is the platform (gentle moving and swaying at anchor, more aggressive underway all the way up to trying to cook during an earthquake that never ends), the tools at hand, and the space. Water becomes a limited resource; you can run out. One of my favorite chefs, Bernie Meehan, retired executive chef of the Cosmos Club and serial award winner, once told me "a good chef can cook anywhere with anything." He wasn't a sailor but he is one heck of chef. On most boats you don't have the space or the electrical power to just plug something else in. Technique becomes more important in primitive conditions. Knife skills in particular become more important. The tools you make space for better earn their keep because if they don't they are taking up space something more useful could be in. On delivery I may make do with one cheap chef's knife and a spatula. On my own boat I have good knives - a chef, a utility, and a serrated bread. A small mandoline. I have some good olive wood spatulas. A really good can opener. I carry a good Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker and a big Swiss Diamond saute pan. A couple of stainless sauce pots. Only one electric appliance - a stick blender I can run off the inverter. Flatware, plates, and dishes. There are some other odds and ends but that's the bulk of it. That means when I read a recipe or food concept that talks about food processors and other specialized appliances I start thinking about basics: knives, stoves, ovens. I may only have a two burner alcohol stove. I may have to cobble something together as a Dutch oven. That is technique not tools. I had a short delivery from Annapolis MD to Newport RI. That's about 3-1/2 days non-stop in the small boat we were moving. I would usually go with a crew of three (me and two others). In this even my friend Shawn stuck his hand up and when no other crew worked out I decide to go. Shawn is one heck of a chef and keeps me on his toes. His resume includes several years at the Inn at Little Washington in rural Northern Virginia and years teaching in culinary schools. It's just the two of us four-on/four-off. Shawn's turn to make dinner and he can't find any salad dressing. Up comes dinner including a salad with this wonderful delicate ginger dressing. Shawn minced onions and more or less grated carrots - no grater, no microplane - and ground up ginger cookies from the snack bag with oil and vinegar and a little bit of this and that - a knife, a spoon, a pan (those two as a mortar and pestle), and a small bowl. I tell this story to point out the importance of technique. Whether boating or camping or otherwise dealing with primitive situations the point is not the tools but the techniques. This is why my three favorite "cookbooks" are On Food and Cooking, a 1951 edition of Joy of Cooking, and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. They focus on the science and foundational techniques of cooking. My late and much lamented sister-in-law also taught me a lot. She was Thai and cooked over a coal brazier for years before coming to the U.S. The attached picture shows me helping her make peanut sauce. We started with peanuts. I miss Lamoun very much. Like Chef Meehan and Shawn, Lamoun did not ever say "I cannot cook - all I have is a rock." They would say "what can I do with this rock?"
  13. Auspicious

    Boat Cookery

    Herewith the report. Note that this is right out of the box and performance may change with time. After rinsing out the bottle I made tea. In a clear demonstration that sometimes it is better to be lucky than smart my wife's infuser dropped nicely into the mouth of the mug. On board I use tea bags so that isn't relevant to the application but handy. If the controls on our Cuisinart tea kettle are accurate the water was about 185°F. I let it steep for about three minutes and then sit another five minutes with the cap off based on the suggestion in the flyer that came with the mug. What I found was that the tea was still too hot for me to drink. In fact an hour later it was still too hot for me. I will digress for a moment to say that here at Chez Auspicious temperature is either "hot" or "Janet hot." Apparently I'm a bit of a weeny. Regardless, next morning--14 hours after I made it--the tea was still acceptably warm to keep drinking. I am impressed with the insulation. I held the mug upside down and let it hang for about 10 minutes before I lost interest. No drips. I shook it. No drips. I knocked it over with increasing aggression. No drips, no leaks. I tried to get the mug to land on the trigger mechanism without success. I can see the potential for a short leak if it happens to hit directly on the trigger but that is what the latch is for. I like the way the mechanism swings up out of the way for cleaning. Well done and quite elegant. Two elements are somewhere between awkward and disappointing. First, threading the cap on is fussy. Getting the cap lined up with the threads on the mug is somewhat precise. This could be a source of frustration on a moving platform (boat) with a mug full of something hot. The solution may be to reduce the thickness of the first round of threads on both the cap and the mug to make them self-aligning. I'll write Contigo a note. I'm sure they'll be thrilled. *grin* Second is that the seal against the drinking orifice floats in its mounting slot. Between mechanical abrasion, thermal cycling, and chemical corrosion this is going to be a maintenance item over time. I see from the Contigo website that new caps are available for $7 but not the simple little seal. At the end I'm impressed. This mug has earned a spot in my go-kit and on my recommendation list to crew. Thank you all for the recommendation. Now back to cooking on a boat! *grin*
  14. Auspicious

    Dinner 2018

    I ran into the same problem with my lasagna recipe. For whatever reason it didn't seem to scale down well. Now I double it and use three 8x8 casseroles instead of two 9x13 ones. One 8x8 feeds both of us for two dinners or more often one dinner and three small lunches for me. They keep well in the freezer.
  15. Auspicious

    Dinner 2018

    I never remember to take pictures so why wait? Dinner tonight will be stuffed peppers, couscous, and a salad.
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