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eG Foodblog: pastameshugana (2011) - Looking for an Oasis in a Culinar


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Hello eGulleteers, and welcome to my first ever food blog.

First, a little bit about me and where my eating & cooking are inspired from: I grew up in the Southwest (AZ), and after marriage spent a few years in Vegas, then off to Bangalore, India for a couple years, and now live in the far southeast part of New Mexico, right on the Texas border.

Here's a picture from about five minutes down the road:

DSC02112.JPG

Now, growing up the way I did (with a Jewish/Italian father) in the land of great Mexican food (imagine those meal combos!), and living in Vegas and India, my family and I have developed a taste (addiction?) for flavors that reach out and grab you. I have a naturally small appetite, so I really don't want to put anything in my mouth that doesn't taste amazing.

When we lived in India, I really began to enjoy cooking. Partly it was the amazingly cheap and incredibly fresh ingredients available, and partly it was the desire to be able to replicate the amazing food of Bangalore when we finally moved back home. That's also when I discovered eGullet.

So - all that to say this: I'm depressed. Seriously. I live in a town that has more than a hundred 'Mexican' restaurants, but in which black pepper is considered spicy. I live in New Mexico, yet in a mysterious vortex that doesn't have a strong green chilly culture. Oi Vey! I live in the south (land of sweet tea) but in a city with not one single barbecue joint. Am I being punished? This is the part of the country in which if you order a 'latte' people look at you funny and assume you're a 'foreigner' or of dubious morality.

Don't get me wrong, there's some good food here, but very little of it is at a restaurant. We've got some friends that are amazing cooks, and I've been learning some new techniques & tools, but other than that, it's a food desert here.

See the picture of the farm above? We're surrounded by them, but there's not a single farmers market here.

So - this week you're going to follow me around as I try (desperately) to tickle my palate with the limited supplies available, and as I search high and low for something new and interesting.

Full Disclosure: Some of these meals (and shopping) are a week old, because we were traveling and my schedule is a bit hectic, so if you see me post two dinners in one day, it's not because I'm time-zone hopping, but compressing two weeks of eating into one.

Hope you enjoy the ride!

PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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So, on the heals of that literary quest (sorry for the length!), here's Monday's Brekkie with Sundays coffee:

My first bag of Peets in a while (Italian Roast):

DSC02155.JPG

Hand ground in the press:

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(Notice the Las Vegas mug? I try to collect mugs from every place I visit (and my passport is full, so that's quite a few), hopefully you'll see some more of them this week)

And one of the greatest breakfast inventions ever: Eggs on Toast

DSC02159.JPG

My first EOT was in Footscray, Melbourne at a little cafe, and it was a revelation. My version has garlic, onion and portobello lightly sauteed in olive oil. Add chopped roma's after you turn the heat off so they stay sweet (a nice counterpoint to the heavy aromatics). Toss with freshly ground pepper & sea salt and topp with chopped Gruyere. My mouth is happy!

Warning: NSFW Egg Porn picture following...

...

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Doesn't it bring a tear to your eye?

Be back later!

PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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Just a quick update - I forgot to include Sunday's breakfast, which was simple and tasty.

One of the lovely markets we hit last week (you'll hear about & see it soon) had a little display with some in-house made 'Chocolate Peanut-Butter'. Hold up, wait a minute. Chocolate peanut butter? What is this beautiful thing and WHY have I not heard of it before?!

C'mon. Chocolate and PB are one of the god-given flavor combinations that make the world go 'round, and here in one jar? Bhuwhahahahaaa!

So, with Sunday's coffee, I also had some toast layered with this goodness. Here's a (not so great) pic, but it sure tasted great. Now I don't have to hide my breakfast from my wife when I put chocolate syrup on my PB toast. ;)

DSC02157.JPG

PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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Working on lunch: Trying my hand at smoking (first time) on a way too small grill for smoking. This was a spur of the moment meal, I found some frozen pork ribs in the ice box last night, and took them out to thaw.

Here they are arranged to have the most surface area exposed to the smoke (using fancy skewers as props!):

IMG_0276.JPG

Smoking with hickory:

IMG_0277.JPG

The internal temp (of the grill) is a little above 200, so hopefully they won't 'bake' too fast and have time to smoke.

So far they've only been treated with Cavender's greek seasoning (my favorite). We'll see how they turn out...

PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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Thanks for taking the time to blog this week.

I love that you call it the "ice box". That is what we always called the fridge when I was growing up and my dad still does.

Appreciate you taking one for the team and trying out smoking for the first time with an audience :smile:

How would you compare that chocolate peanut butter with Nutella?

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I love that you call it the "ice box". That is what we always called the fridge when I was growing up and my dad still does.

...

How would you compare that chocolate peanut butter with Nutella?

Heidi - I get so many strange looks because my speech has become so mixed over the years. Traveling and living overseas, plus having lots of family from all corners of the globe makes our 'little' (4 mini-meshugana's and one on the way, plus (obviously) Mrs. Meshugana) family stand out in this small town. Every time I say 'no worries' I have to rephrase for the poor confused soul...

As for the nutella - I know I've eaten it but it's been in the distant past, so I can't honestly recall the flavor. I will say, however, that the brown color was trying to convince my brain that it was Vegemite (which I adore), even though it certainly tastes nothing like it!

(Edited to add: If there was a parentheses quota, this post would certainly exceed it. Sorry, I'm a parenthetical speaker. Look, here comes another one! --> )

Edited by pastameshugana (log)

PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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Thanks for taking the time to blog. Sounds like you've got some powerful traditions to tap this week.

See the picture of the farm above? We're surrounded by them, but there's not a single farmers market here.

So what's growing out there?

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Update on the smoking process: My hickory woodchips are going much faster than I had bargained. For some harebrained reason I obeyed the package instructions and didn't soak (or even wet) the chips. So, about two lbs later, I'm soaking the remaining ones to make them last.

Here's about 1hr into the process. You can see I abandoned the dish I had chips in and put them right on the grill. This 'infrared' grill has a solid bottom, so no worries about them falling on the burners:

IMG_0278.JPG

Two and a half hours into smoking, the meat temperature is about 130, and looking beautiful. I snagged a piece of the fat that fell off and it was heaven. The whole neighborhood smells like my dinner! ;)

IMG_0279.JPG

I'll post results when I'm done!

And here's a question: To soak or not to soak? Other than the life-span of the wood, is there another reason pro/con?

PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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Glad to read your blog, pastameshugana.

The words 'Southeast NM' bring back memories of Christmas and March vacations spent in Carlsbad, NM where it was warm enough to satisfy even if not very exciting and cheap enough that we could afford it and not as far as AZ. In fact, it was so long ago that the canal was still an ugly ditch and the city was in disrepair before the push to beautify the canal area and the downtown came. Loved hiking in the Guadalupes.

I remember one Mexican restaurant, Lucy's on the main drag, where I had my first and delicious Chile Relleno. What a discovery. And the next year it was gone.

The area must be quite different now if you have all those Mexican restaurants in your region.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Aloha! Enjoy reading your posts! I am a big huge fan of Cavender's! Have a great week! Looking forward to more!

"You can't miss with a ham 'n' egger......"

Ervin D. Williams 9/1/1921 - 6/8/2004

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Darienne, I'm sure it's changed a bit since then, especially Carlsbad. Hopefully we'll make it down there for lunch this week to show you my 'favorite BBQ in New Mexico'.

We're about an hour up the road in Hobbs, which is (if you can believe it), flatter and dryer than even Carlsbad.

PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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See the picture of the farm above? We're surrounded by them, but there's not a single farmers market here.

So what's growing out there?

Peter, the big commercial farms are cotton and peanuts, with pecans favoring large as well. I'm not sure about the smaller, private farms.

PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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Darienne, I'm sure it's changed a bit since then, especially Carlsbad. Hopefully we'll make it down there for lunch this week to show you my 'favorite BBQ in New Mexico'.

We're about an hour up the road in Hobbs, which is (if you can believe it), flatter and dryer than even Carlsbad.

I remember going through Hobbs each time on our way home to Ontario. But again, it was in the 80s.

Love to read about your BBQ place in Carlsbad.

Do you like to cook Mexican foods? I assume you can buy pretty much anything in that line.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Shelby - I believe, if I'm not mistaken, that it's simply our region. We're literally right on the Texas border (5 minutes from my house), and Hatch is several hours west. In fact, most of the 'chili' places I've enjoyed have been much further west than Hobbs.

PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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Nickrey - We spent much very enjoyable time in Melbourne when we lived in India. Our visa required us to leave the country every 6 months, so we alternated between Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur. We've got some old friends in Footscray, so spent most of our time there, but also made it around in the city (absolutely fell in love with Queen Vic market), Dandenong and several other suburbs.

We actually loved it so much we'd like to live there if life would permit. ;)

Unfortunately, we never made it to Sydney or Perth. We were scheduled to visit Perth (where some of my family is from, in a roundabout sort of way) when plans changed and we headed from India to the US.

PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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Darienne - I love to cook Mexican! This week I'll certainly be making some for some friends. I haven't decided exactly what, yet, but I'll at least be making discada once.

Wow! And do you cook it on a plow disc harrow? Do you eat this often? How many meats do you use?

No need to answer any of these questions until the day comes when you make it.

I'd never even heard of it! But then my knowledge of Mexican dishes is rudimentary at best. I await the dish...

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Well, the smoked pork ribs are done - and what a treat!

Here they are after resting:

DSC02165.JPG

They were smoked with heat on for 3.5 hours, the coolest I could keep my BBQ was just south of 200 degrees by keeping only the burner under the chips on. When the meat hit 145 degrees I turned the heat off and let the pile of wood chips smoke themselves out for another hour.

Here they are after I've given myself a blister chopping them all for sandwiches:

DSC02171.JPG

The flavor is just absolutely terrific. The smoke is super subtle, probably because of the short time. I'd like to find a way to stretch that time out to get more 'smokiness'.

The sad part is we have band practice tonight, so I have to run and leave this pile of meat. Maybe we'll grab fast food tonight and eat this tomorrow, or we'll eat it late tonight.

PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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I will just assume that you got a decent amount of the lovely meat into your gullet during the chopping process :wink: Looks wonderful and it does reheat well.

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