ellyssian: (Default)
  • 1 lb fresh ground bison
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 1/4 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • white peppercorns, freshly ground

For all intents and purposes, I could just have written this up as a variation to the parmesan bacon burger in the last post, but I want it to stand out a bit. I also did this at half the scale of the prior recipe. While the parmesan, garlic, and tomato add their own touch, the big feature here is that the cow isn't involved.

A quick word on bison: it's better for you. Simple as that.

This was the first time I cooked bison, but over the last few years I've selected it at restaurants when I noticed it was an option. I like the taste a bit better, but the health impacts are huge. Watching this cook up, far more tender than the beef at the end, yet with no massive oil slick coming off of it, was eye opening. This is good stuff.

Other than the ingredients, the process is the same as involved in the other burger, just sized differently:

Pan-fry the bacon to a crisp and set on paper towels to drain.

In a large metal bowl, mix the ground bison, bacon, and cheddar. Grind some white pepper on to it. Separate out into two big meatballs ~ keeping the round ball shape makes it easier to compare sizes and get roughly equivalent proportions. Once you've got it all divided, and both lumps of mix are the same size, set them, one by one, on pieces of wax paper. Press a bit to flatten, fixing up any fault-lines that may appear. Fold the wax paper over the burger and press down, using a large flat object (a saucepan works good). The burger should be no more than 1 inch thick.

Refrigerate until ready to cook.

While the best method may be to toss them on an open flame grill, it was a bit too cold and windy for that today.

The second-best method is a combination effort:

Set the burgers on a foil lined baking sheet, and broil.

At an internal temperature of around 90 degrees or so, flip them, and at 100 or so take them out of the broiler. To measure the temperature, the probe should be inserted from the side of the burger and extend in to the center, about 2 inches or so.

I used a grill pan to finish them off and put the final sear on them without sending them too far past the medium rare stage.

Ideally, this grill would be superheated, but that gets back to the rant about venting and the lack thereof ~ I had the heat set on medium, and used the thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature.

The grill pan can be skipped ~ just cook them in the broiler until done ~ but I like that little extra bit of sear.

Serve on crustini rolls with some lettuce.
ellyssian: (Default)
  • 2 lbs fresh ground beef
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup parmesan-romano-asiago cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup tomato, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • white peppercorns, freshly ground

This is pretty simple, but worked out very well. While I'd love to use only bison and ditch the cow altogether (sorry, Bessie!), this recipe seems better suited to the flavor of beef ~ in fact I took the ground bison and prepared that differently, and will post that recipe in a little while.

Pan-fry the bacon to a crisp and set on paper towels to drain.

In a large metal bowl, mix the ground beef and other ingredients. Separate out into six big meatballs ~ keeping the round ball shape makes it easier to compare sizes and get roughly equivalent proportions. Once you've got it all divided, and all six lumps of mix are the same size, set them, one by one, on pieces of wax paper. Press a bit to flatten, fixing up any fault-lines that may appear. Fold the wax paper over the burger and press down, using a large flat object (a saucepan works good). The burger should be no more than 1 inch thick.

Refrigerate until ready to cook.

While the best method may be to toss them on an open flame grill, it was a bit too cold and windy for that today.

The second-best method is a combination effort:

Set the burgers on a foil lined baking sheet, and broil.

At an internal temperature of around 90 degrees or so, flip them, and at 100 or so take them out of the broiler. To measure the temperature, the probe should be inserted from the side of the burger and extend in to the center, about 2 inches or so.

I used a grill pan to finish them off and put the final sear on them without sending them too far past the medium rare stage.

Ideally, this grill would be superheated, but that gets back to the rant about venting and the lack thereof ~ I had the heat set on medium, and used the thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature.

The grill pan can be skipped ~ just cook them in the broiler until done ~ but I like that little extra bit of sear.

Serve on crustini rolls with some lettuce.
ellyssian: (Default)
All the recipes have been posted, all that's left is a little last words on scheduling and other thoughts related to the meal.

Here are the individual recipes for the main dishes:
Filet Mignon
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Braised Asparagus

And the supporting recipes:
Roasted Garlic
Béarnaise Sauce

Under the cut, for more photos )
ellyssian: (Default)
  • 4 filet mignon steaks
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 tb butter
  • 1 tb olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sea salt
  • Béarnaise sauce

Constructions and pictures under the cut... )
ellyssian: (Default)
  • 5 pounds of russet potatoes
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 8 oz Philadelphia original cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup Half & Half
  • Roasted Garlic, to taste
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sea salt

Constructions and pictures under the cut... )

As with the roasted garlic recipe, blame credit where credit is due: check out my source for this, Pioneer Woman. She takes photos of all the steps I didn't, so there's more to look at.

By the way, ironically enough, I stumbled across Ree's site while looking for a recipe for onion straws, so I might come one step closer to actually making my Fisherman's Salad ~ a concept meal I came up with when I started drawing up refined plans for my restaurant five or ten years ago... see, I told you I have waves of interest ~ and after checking out her recipe, I strolled through some of her others and came across this double whammy. Prior to that, I wasn't sure how I was going to prepare the potatoes for the Valentine's Feast... thanks again, Ree! =)
ellyssian: (Default)
  • 1 bunch fresh aspparagus, trimmed
  • 1 bunch fresh white asparagus, trimmed
  • 4 tb olive oil
  • tarragon, finely chopped
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sea salt
  • Béarnaise sauce

Constructions and pictures behind the cut... )
ellyssian: (Default)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tb tarragon vinegar
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tb chervil, finely chopped
  • 1 tb tarragon, finely chopped
  • 2 crushed white peppercorns
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup melted butter

Under the cut, with some pictures! )
ellyssian: (Default)
I'm breaking this out from the recipe for Béarnaise sauce and posting it independently, just because.

I needed a bain-marie to make the sauce, and I didn't have one. So, whilst on our last minute ingredients gathering, [livejournal.com profile] aequitaslevitas and Mr. B scoured (pun quite intended, thankyouverymuch) our local fine shopping establishments ~ and even Evil*Mart ~ for this rare and, for hot egg sauces and melted chocolates and alchemy oh my, critical tool.

Wait! Stop the presses! What exactly is a bain-marie, you ask? Why, no, it is not, strictly speaking and despite what so many kitchen tool sites that should know better seem to state, a common double boiler ~ and even that thing, however common, isn't to be found in these here parts, at least not in a decent size for a decent price. No, it is a rarer creature, even more unavailable than the common double boiler.

It is, I suppose rather begrudgingly, a distant cousin, but, whereas a double boiler works by action of steam heating the upper pan, a bain-marie works by immersing one pan in the water. I expect that if our double boiler hadn't died a sad and pitiful death some years ago, I would have slummed with the rest of the chefs who confuse the two items, but, alas, without one or the other I was out of luck.

Since this area is without a chefs supply store of any stripe ~ there was a kitchen supply shop in scenic, historic Weissport, but it never seemed to be open and now seems to be gone ~ I had to go to the hardware store. As they say, if Marzen's Feed & Hardware doesn't have it, you don't need it.

Now, they didn't have double boilers or bain-maries there, because that would be silly, but what they did have was a u-bolt and some wing nuts.

I made the bain-marie from a WearEver Cook & Strain 1-1/2-Quart Covered Sauce Pan (although the Premium flavor, much heavier and nicer than the standard line) and a WearEver 10" Cook & Strain Premium pan (I'd provide a link, but the only one I found has a non-stick coating and I like non-stick pans about as much as I like drinking molten metal, except that at least the molten metal is natural and not full of all kinds of crap you're generally trying to avoid by making your own foods from less processed ingredients).

To turn the two pans into a bain-marie, you just need something to clasp the two handles and hold them together. I used the u-bolt with wing nuts so I can easily loosen and separate the two when the saucepan needs to come out of its hot water bath. I used a silicone potholder/pot rest pad as a liner mostly because the u-bolt was a bit big and couldn't tighten up on the handles ~ a smaller size would work better, but there's the advantage of covering the all-steel handles. You need a pot holder to move these when hot (which is fine, and to be expected, despite a few reviewers whining about things like that) and getting a pot holder tangled with the u-bolt could create a dangerous situation, so it's probably safer to have it set up in this configuration anywho.

Enough with the text, here's a shot of it at rest and in action:

...under the cut, of course! )
ellyssian: (Default)
  • 7 garlic bulbs
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Constructions and pictures of most steps under the cut... )


Oh, if you thought I told the story well, or, more importantly, if you felt I flubbed it, go read how Pioneer Woman did it ~ there's better photographs and more entertaining reading there. Besides, I was just following along with her recipe. Thanks, Ree! =)
ellyssian: (Default)
The posts today will be Legion.

I thought about writing them all out and spreading them across a few or a dozen days, but hey, maybe I'll just flood the market.

Food will, of course, take up most of them. Some measure of all, really. Even the two posts on architecture and home design (from the How to Tell if ... are from Another Planet series... see the other episodes here and here) will be related to food preparation. There will also be six recipes: three main dishes, one sauce, one component, and one overall Plan for the entire meal.

I've mentioned before that I get into things in waves. I can be really intensely focused for a while, and then I'll move on to other things. Obviously, the food wave is cresting now. Thursday had the recipe for sweet lemon cod and winey 'zo 'n 'zo. Saturday had the Valentine's Feast that will generate all the food posts mentioned above, and was previewed here and had results depicted here. Yesterday, there were egg rolls which also works fairly well as a stir fry recipe ~ thought I had posted a stir fry one before, but if I did, I failed to tag it with either food or recipes.

There's likely to be more food recipes ahead in the near future. Maybe. I have some hamburger, and I'm likely to try something different for making burgers, so maybe something on that at the end of the week. Everything else for the next week or so will involve less of the recipe and more of the open-package-and-heat variety, unfortunately. Although I've seen some newspaper articles claim that healthy, fresh foods are cheaper than the pre-processed crap out there, Deb goes into conniptions when I get into a cooking phase because I like to work with ingredients instead of heat-n-serve stuff, and, apparently, her issue with this doesn't involve taste or health, rather money, of which we have, well, none.

In other news, [livejournal.com profile] aequitaslevitas drove to college today. All by his own self. Next step will be him getting a job ~ beyond the part time work with me* ~ so he can pay for gas.

~ ~ ~

* He's very restricted on what times he can work; even if he doesn't have high school classes or college classes, his working permit is based on the school district we live in, not that he attends... so no work while they are in school, even if he is not. Which pretty much limits any landscaping help to the summer vacation ~ can't exactly do that sort of thing in the night time, or, even, schedule it to start late enough in the day to take him along. I suppose now that he's driving, he'll be able to come out in the afternoon for a few hours a day... hadn't thought of that until typing it... but that may work, although it means two vehicles going to the site... =)
ellyssian: (Default)
Of course, I tend to much prefer spring rolls, mostly for the difference in wrapper. Funny enough, my sources tell me that the difference between the egg roll and spring roll wrappers involves egg. Yes, odd as it may sound, no egg is involved in the egg roll. The spring roll, on the other hand, is brushed with it. Go figure.

Anywho, without further ado (and yeah, I will get to the other recipes & meal scheduling of the Valentine's Feast... maybe tomorrow? =) here it is:

  • 6 thin sliced center cut pork chops
  • 8 oz plum sauce (Sun Luck Golden Plum Sauce)
  • Eden Organic Tamari
  • Eden Selected Ume Plum Wine Vinegar
  • Ground ginger, to taste
  • 1.25 cups canola, sesame, or safflower oil
  • 10-12 shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 stalks bok choy
  • 1 lg. onion
  • 2-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 ginger root, peeled
  • 6-10 scallions
  • 2 med or 1 lg carrot
  • 1 can water chestnuts
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • Ground chipotle pepper, to taste
  • 1 pkg. egg roll wrappers
  • duck sauce or sweet and sour sauce

I've never really tried any other plum sauces or any other brand of egg roll wrappers, so those exact flavors are up to you. I have, however, tried other tamari ~ even other Eden tamari ~ and I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that the product will be discontinued because the difference between it and other soy sauces is rather like the difference between, say, a Lamborghini Murciélago R-GT and an Edsel, provided the Edsel is rusted out and has been pressed flat by a car crusher. It is the difference between, say, the Berlin Philharmonic and an Edsel, rusted out, pressed flat, and set on a balance so it squeaks. It is the difference, say, between a fine wine and raw sewage. There is just no comparison.

I haven't tried any other plum wine vinegars, but I do have to say I'm impressed with the Ume plum wine vinegar, and it is far superior to the rice wine vinegar I'd used up to this point.

Speaking of points, time to get to it. Here's the recipe:

Pre-heat oven to 350.

De-fatify the pork chops. Slice them into thin strips - maybe a quarter or three-eighths of an inch wide. Cut them in half (roughly an inch long at most). Place them in a glass baking dish. Cover with the plum sauce. Add some tamari and Ume plum wine vinegar. Sprinkle with ground ginger.

Bake until tender, basting regularly with the juices.

The core of the egg roll recipe is to make a stir fry. The only difference is that you chop almost everything finely instead of leaving it in slivers. You can leave some things in slivers and it will work, but it's neater to eat if it's all chopped up.

Set out four plates and two cutting stations - one for the initial prep and the other for the chopper.

The initial prep has some variations depending on the ingredient. The mushrooms should be washed, de-stalked, and thin sliced ~ these were the only ones I left in this form. Everything else should be washed and cut into 1 inch or so chunks, slices, bits, cubes, or whatever's easiest to get them to a size of 1 cubic inch at most. The cloves of garlic just need to be peeled and have the fibrous ends chopped off. The ginger root has to be peeled and then cut into chunks. The carrots should be peeled, if desired, and then cut into chunks. The water chestnuts just need to be opened and drained, possibly peeled if they're in their virgin state (most aren't). The sesame seeds just need to be measured out.

Next stage is to chop everything. For me, I've found that our veggie chopper does great on ten cycles. I lay out enough of one item to fill but not clog, give it ten swats, and then shift the ingredients to one of four plates.

The following is the layout for the ingredients above, plus other possibilities I've used in stir fry but not for egg rolls:

Plate 1: onion, ginger, garlic, broccoli
Plate 2: carrots, cabbage, bok choy
Plate 3: peppers, zucchini, bamboo shoots
Plate 4: water chestnuts, sesame seeds, mushrooms, mung bean sprouts, scallions, snow peas, baby corn

It doesn't matter so much what order you chop it, so long as each bit gets sorted out according to the grand scheme. That's how we're going to judge cook time.

Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a cast iron wok (first choice) or skillet (needs more oil).

Scoop the pork from the baking dish, draining as much sauce as possible back into the baking dish, and stir fry for a few minutes, until browned.

Return the pork to the sauce in the baking dish. Wipe out the wok.

Heat a similar portion of oil as the first go-round for the pork.

Once it's at temperature (hint: fling a single tiny drop of water at the oil; if it sizzles, it's ready), scrape the contents of plate #1 into the wok and begin doing the stir fry thing, which is to say, keep the contents constantly moving.

Add in some tamari and vinegar ~ more of the former, less of the latter ~ and, if you don't count fresh chopped ginger as an ingredient, be sure to add some ground ginger. Add the ground chipotle to give it a bit of a kick.

After the first plate has cooked for about 2 minutes, add the second plate, and then follow up with another plate about every 2 minutes. Remember, it's stir fry: keep those veggies moving! I've noticed that the bok choy releases a helluva lot of water. You want to cook that stage a bit longer, or, like I did, use a couple of paper towels to creatively absorb some of that extra water. If you don't you'll 1) boil the veggies instead of stir fry them; and 2) end up with soggy egg rolls going into the fryer.

The last plate really doesn't need a full 2 minutes ~ in fact, if you want, you can pull it from the heat before adding that plate. I didn't, but I like those last minute veggies to see a few stirs of the ol' fry, as it were.

If you're making stir fry, you're done: add the pork to the wok, stir one last time and serve. If you're making egg rolls, the part with the eggs will never happen, but the rolling is coming right up. Add the veggies to the pork and sauce in the glass baking dish. Stir in thoroughly.

Clean up your dishes and stuff so far because you need a bit of a break, right? In my case, I also need counter space.

Set out about 4 plates, each with a paper towel, in the prep area. Set 2 more plates & paper towels to the "done" side of the range top. Get out a little bowl with water, a pastry brush, the egg roll wrappers, a serving spoon, a clean dish cloth, and one or two plates. If you're doing this with two cooks, use two plates; if you're doing it solo, get some plastic wrap to cover the egg roll wrappers between uses. You may want to do the latter step even with two, to prevent the wrappers from drying out ~ we moved fast enough, and had no troubles.

Set a single wrapper ~ and double check that it is just one; first time making these we had quite a few wanna-be doubles that slowed things down and made things messy ~ on the plate (or, really, a clean working surface; I suppose the plates only work well for assembly-line style passing of the plate...) so that it's got a point towards you, not a flat line.

Scoop out about 1/2 a cup of stir fry (really, we just used a non-measuring scoop and eye balled it; I have no clue how much it was exactly) and lay it out in a horizontal line, from the left to right corners, about an inch in and no more than an inch or so wide (again, we just eyeball it).

Fold the right corner over the filling so the point is a little more than half way ~ it should just tug at a bit of the filling. Brush the right corner ~ just a single swipe or two ~ with water.

Fold the left corner over the top of the right corner. Brush the left corner and the bottom corner with water.

Fold the bottom corner up, again just tugging at the filling. Brush the bottom corner and the top corner with water.

See, so far all we've done so far is fold it. "Egg Fold" or "Egg Origami" might be more accurate, except there's no egg involved, as I've pointed out so many times the joke's old already. But this is it ~ the turning point.

Starting from the bottom, roll towards that last top corner. That's it. That's the roll.

Set on a paper towel. I do five a plate. Given that there's usually about 20 wrappers in a package, that's the four plates. Obviously, if you have more or less, adapt to it. I didn't do the paper towels the first time: I stacked them in a single dish and wound up repentant and vowing I'd never wind up with another soggy, wet, falling-apart embarrassment of a lump, and would instead find myself in the company of decent, fine upstanding egg rolls from here on out. So if you were thinking of skipping that step, don't. It isn't very pretty, and egg unrolls are much less pleasant to eat.

Wipe the plate clean and start another. Roll 'em all. Or, rather, fold 'em and roll 'em.

Once they're done, get a cup of oil and pour it in a 1.5 qt saucepan. Heat to medium high.

Set the plates with the rolls on them on one side, the empty plates on the other. This step might take more prep if you're doing it solo; with two, one can do the frying while the other takes empty plates of the "raw" rolls, wipes them clean, brings more plates of rolls to be cooked over, takes plates of cooked rolls away, and sets up more paper toweled plates for more finished rolls. This allows one person to focus on the hot oil, a task which takes some care and respect. Because the rolling process ~ and dripping filling ~ can leave the outside wet, I like to give them as much time on the paper towel as possible. Get them to dry out a bit. Less splatter and more staying together.

Using tongs, lower a roll into the oil.

Now, my source specifies 3-4 minutes for the first side, turn the roll, and 1-2 minutes on the second side. My source also specified the medium high heat. I use things on the lower side of medium high, and it's more like 1-2 minutes the first side, 30 seconds on the second. My first batch included some so overcooked it wasn't funny. This batch was much easier. You need to understand the rhythm of your stove and oil temperature. Just watch it, if it looks golden brown flip it. In any case, the second side takes far less time than the first, and it also gets faster as it goes along.

Once they're done, hold the roll over the oil a moment to drip, and then set aside on a paper towel and plate. I'm weird, I do five plates for this stage, four rolls a piece. Give them room to ooze off some of that oil.

Once you're done, get the burner off and get the oil off the burner.

Serve immediately, with duck sauce, once they're done.

You can freeze and re-heat, but they've never lasted long enough to make it to leftovers, so you're guess is as good as mine as to how that will come out.

Clean up tip: before cooking anything with oil splatter, cover the other burners (particularly on electric ranges) with overturned plates of appropriate sizes. Cuts down on the smoking burners next time you cook.

Vegetarinify this by using tofu instead of pork (instead of letting that sit in a sauce like I did with the pork, you're allegedly supposed to let it drain after cooking). You could also use shrimp or chicken, I suppose, although their cooking methods might change.
ellyssian: (Default)
Recipes tomorrow. Pictures today.

One big one of the results under the cut... )

The rest of the pictures are a click away over on Flickr.

I'll likely be working them into the post(s) tomorrow. =)
ellyssian: (Default)
Fillet mignon with Béarnaise sauce, served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and baked braised asparagus.

Recipes will follow, although you can always cheat on the roasted garlic and the mashed potatoes mostly because that's exactly where I stole borrowed found the recipes I'll be using. And when I write them up, they'll be far less entertaining, if no less delicious.

I'll probably do a separate post about coordinating the meal as well as other posts to keep each of the five recipes separate.

Happy Valentines Day!

EDIT: Turns out the aspasagus* looked a wee bit dry ~ although it did recover nicely and it was only the base that was deaded ~ so I decided to braise rather than bake the spears. Also, we have some white aspasagus in addition to the green, so it's all very exotic and stuff. Also also, there will be photos, mostly because I want to amuse you all with the improvised bain-marie. Also also also, I may or may not take photos of each step, and I may or may not include them here, although I will most likely save them for a cookbook that was requested a while ago. =)

* A Justinism. Because I didn't blog when he was a kid, and he missed out on having any such cute little comments blabbed to everyone, and because he's now not so little, being a licensed driver and all.
ellyssian: (Default)
  • 1 lb. orzo
  • 1/2 lg. onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • canola oil
  • 3/4 cup Pinot Grigio wine
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, asiago, and romano cheeses
  • 1/4 cup grape tomatoes, chopped
  • fresh basil, chopped

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the orzo per package directions (boil to the low side of the directions, 6-8 minutes, drain).

Add some oil to a cast iron fry pan. If you don't have a cast iron frying pan and only use those non-stick ones, think for a moment about what all that non-stick crud is doing when it becomes unstuck from the pan, stuck to the food, and then swallowed so it sticks to your ribs. If you haven't already rushed out to get one, order one, wait for delivery, and then you can heat up that oil on medium.

Add the onion and garlic once the oil is up to temperature. Stir it around until it starts to get lightly golden colored.

Add the orzo, and keep stirring.

You may need to add some more oil to keep the orzo from clumping, and keep stirring.

Add some fresh basil, and keep stirring.

There's some odd reason that stir-fry relates only to certain Oriental cuisines, because, basically, if the name hadn't already been taken, it could apply here. And keep stirring.

As the orzo starts to get a bit of a golden touch, pour in the white wine, and you guessed it, keep stirring.

Stop stirring when the wine has fizzled off and the orzo looks nearly good enough to eat.

Pour the orzo into a glass baking dish.

Stir in the cheeses.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Stir in chopped tomatoes and serve.
ellyssian: (Default)

Pour approximately 3 oz. of the dressing on fish and marinate for 4 hours, turning every hour.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

When oven reaches cooking temperature, place fish in a glass baking dish, spreading them out into a single layer. Pour remaining 3 oz. of dressing on the fish. Cover pan with aluminum foil.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Serve with a baked potato, rice, or Winey 'Zo 'n 'Zo.



Feb. 12th, 2009 03:42 pm
ellyssian: (Default)
Despite the fact that Deb can make a baked chicken dish interesting*, she pretty much doesn't consider herself a cook, or capable of cooking, or able to do anything beyond burning boiling water.

It seems that it's in waves that I wind up doing the cooking, and she's been wanting me to do some more.

I did some egg rolls last weekend, and they came out great. Tomorrow night, the New and Improved Recipe will be attempted, and, if it comes out perfect, posted. They're much easier to make then I had expected, although spatter is an issue. I have a spatter guard, but it's for a 12-14" skillet/pan, and not the 6" one I was using to keep the oil quantity both low and deep ~ unfortunately, the oil clung to the parts of the spatter guard outside the pan, dripped, and made nearly as much of a mess as if it had been allowed to splatter everywhere.

Tonight there's some fresh fish ~ cod ~ and it's marinating now in a lemon tarragon sauce. I was thinking about broiling it, but now I'm leaning towards baking it, so I can do the orzo ~ with a light cheesy sauce ~ at the same time.

Maybe a recipe later?

* There aren't very many people capable of that, in my judgement. Not only that, but she can make a fried chicken that is also very good. Me, I have my rosemary chicken and BBQ chicken, and that exhausts my recipes. =)
ellyssian: (Default)
For those of you who eat gourmet food, you need to be aware of something if you haven't already noticed it: in order to "simplify" their menu, back in December, Burger King changed the names of the items on their value menu. Whereas, if you once ordered a "medium #1 with cheese" you now get ~ and pay for ~ what used to be a large. I had this happen the last two times I ate there (which was a while ago) and wondered why 1) things were so expensive; and 2) why there was too much extra crap. There's nothing on their website about it, but I was able to find an article or two complaining about it. Their website doesn't even mention meals... it just talks about the individual items. Allegedly, they have posters up to explain this, so they don't think anyone was confused. Me, it just pissed me off because I spent money for food I didn't eat. Supposedly they now size things as "value", "small", "medium", and "large", where before it was "small", "medium", "large", and "king" ~ although one of the articles I read translated the former "medium" to the current "value", so who knows.

Overall, it seems to buck the trend of recognizing how bad too much of that kind of food is for you. Then again, Wendy's, which is apparently growing out of the phase of trying to appeal to a mature, healthy eating audience, is going for the three quarter pound triple burger crowd, with some unfortunate slogan I can't seem to track down online. Maybe it's a version of their "3conomics" thing focused on the triple decker, but it was another example of ignoring the current trend towards recognizing how bad this stuff is for you, and encouraging you to spend more (even if you're getting paid less ~ and if your pay raise is less than the rate of inflation, you making less money) on even more fattening crap.

Then there's the thing that ticked me off and got me to write this down. I haven't eaten at a Wendy's since June, and before that, maybe early to mid 2007, so I don't really have any stock in what they offer: they had a decent fish sandwich, but they discontinued it one time to many, not to mention their burgers never seem anywhere near as fresh as they claim they are. Gourmet Food, I mean Burger King, I do visit more often, but probably a bit less than once a month. Maybe even less now that they ticked me off with the name change game. Pissed me off when they first moved things around - if I recall correctly, at one time what I was eating for years, that "medium" size", was, way back in the 80's, the "large" size. Anyway, the thing that set this all off tonight was another ad that seemed so out of step with everything that, combined with those other two things, probably proves that those three are in lock step with a new trend.

It's been quite a while since everyone knew just how bad high fructose corn syrup is for you. Until HFCS Facts came along to tell you how wrong that is, and how great it is for you... in moderation of course. Yeah, their TV ad really pissed me off.

And it comes from corn, so it's got to be good!

I'm sorry, ethanol also comes from corn, and if you pour it all over an industry marketing moron and light it, he'll still scream and writhe in pain, so it's got to be good!

The ads go on and on about how high fructose corn syrup is just as good (or bad) for you as sugar or other sweeteners. Remember, though, the ad is paid for by the folks who want to sell you high fructose corn syrup, and the studies that combat all that earlier advice about how bad it is for you, healthwise, are, likewise, paid for by the Corn Refiners Association, the beverage manufacturers, and the others who want to sell the stuff to you.

They're just a tad biased.

"But it's all natural!", they whine, "so it's got to be good!"

It's all natural in the same way asphalt is ~ sure, you suck up some dead dinosaurs, mix in some all natural stone aggregate, and slap it over the green and pleasant fields to make a parking lot, that's all there is to it. All natural. So you take corn ~ already one of the most tweaked monoculture crops on the planet with only a handful of genetic variation in the product after years of manipulation to get it to where it is today ~ and you further alter it to get it to have the characteristics you want. That lack of variation is just ruinous to the environment.

For one thing, raising a monoculture means your Product no longer has the natural variances it once did, it can no longer change or adapt to new pests. So now you have to fret and fuss over it and go out and hand pick every bug from every ear of corn in every acre in every farm ~ oh, hell with it, just gas the fuckers! Poison 'em, wipe out the enemy of the corn! Pesticides, of course, don't just kill the stuff that eats the corn. They kill the stuff that was eating the stuff that eats the corn. Hey, more dead bugs! Woah, more live bugs! More pesticides! Not to mention those pesticides don't get out there into the corn we eat without some help! There's all the fuel and resources spent to deliver those poisons. And then the stuff sits there in the fields. Or washes downstream. Kills more stuff that way, stuff that doesn't eat the corn. And the stuff it kills gets eaten by more stuff, and next thing you know that shrimp you're dipping in cocktail sauce or that bit of tuna has more nasty stuff packed into it than the untreated sewage effluent.

Well, maybe not that much. Certainly, not the same nasty stuff.

Oh, and they feed those pesticides to the other animals that end up on the plate.

Corn, as a crop, is a terribly demanding plant.

More! More! Give me more! it screams, and this plant ~ and it is, being genetically identical, the same exact plant (six plants, if I recall, on recent Discovery Channel mention) all around the world ~ is high maintenance even beyond the monoculture demands of pest protection. Let me take a step back. Six plants. Imagine if everyone in the world still existed in the same quantity, but there were only six different people. That's what corn is, and all other monoculture crops follow the same pattern. That should be shocking enough.

Back to the fugue at hand.

Corn is high maintenance. It needs a soil that is so lopsided in nutrients the only way it gets that way is by the addition of more and more fertilizers. Fertilizers used commercially are manufactured things ~ a current favorite "all natural" ingredient, urea, a component of urine, is commercially made from two great all natural sources: coal and petroleum-based resources. At least those are some healthy, plentiful ingredients, eh?

Corn, being high maintenance, doesn't just want more fertilizer. It actually destroys the soil structure, degrading it further, so that next time you grow it ~ which, in commercial situations means pretty much immediately ~ you need more fertilizers. And with such a weak soil structure, if it gets wet it all washes away. That's okay, take some more coal or gas, exert some more coal or gas to break it down to urea ~ or invent some other chemical blend ~ and add more fertilizer. So what if all that runoff is destroying ecosystems down stream!

Yeah. High fructose corn syrup is definitely a winner. Why, it's so good, not only is it based off the most demanding crop we invented, it's also got to be further processed ~ highly processed ~ to get it all high and fructosy. So tip back a glass of high fructose corn syrup ~ in moderation, of course ~ and be glad the industry that sells it paid scientists to say it won't kill you any faster, and just ignore the man behind the curtain... and all the pesticides, fertilizers, fossil fuels, and chemistry that went into bringing you that natural sugary sweet slime.

Side Note: The HFCS promotion began back in June, really hitting its stride in September. The LA Times published this article back in August, and The Washington Post put this one out in March. I'm sure there were a lot of other "attacks" on a poor humble industry, just trying to fatten up a calf so it can make a buck or two billion. Some additional post-ad blitz info on grist.
ellyssian: (Default)
  1. Ate bagels from a (nearly!) local deli
  2. Drove over to Beltzville and parked my car along one of the tall-curb islands in the lot
  3. [livejournal.com profile] patrixa parked her car behind mine, leaving some room between them
  4. I went for a walk with [livejournal.com profile] patrixa while [livejournal.com profile] aequitaslevitas, under the direction of my little baby brother, learned to parallel park.
  5. [livejournal.com profile] aequitaslevitas and I hung Kissmas lights
  6. Aforementioned brother, who was a roofer for four or more years, climbed up to the roof, cleared out the two gutters that are a royal pain to get to (steep angle, no good access) and slipped in the gutter brush thingies
  7. Rachel and Mr. B played basketball
  8. Went out to dinner at Marblehead Grille and Chowder House as an early celebration of Rachel's birthday a month away.
  9. Rachel opened presents my mom and brother imported

How I'll Spend the Day After Black Friday
Moving [livejournal.com profile] dragonflypug. Again. It's been almost a year since the last time, I think... =)
ellyssian: (Default)
Barley Meatloaf
  • ground beef
  • barley
  • olive oil
  • 2 large shallots
  • 4 small garlic cloves
  • fresh ground pepper
  • crushed rosemary
  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • steak sauce of choice

Roast garlic and shallots for 10-15 minutes under a low-heat broiler. After broiling, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring small saucepan with water and a bit of olive oil to boil. Add barley. Reduce to medium low heat and cook until water is absorbed.

Put meat in a high sided baking dish. Mix it around a bit to break it up. Add spices to taste (although don't taste it - it's raw meat! =)

Squeeze roasted garlic from outer skin. Cut off end bits and any questionable bits. Crush garlic with fork. Add to ground meat. Mix.

Remove outer layer or three of skin from the onion. Cut off ends. Cut onion into pieces - small or large, as desired. Add to ground meat. Mix.

Add barley to ground meat. Mix and smooth out the top. Pour steak sauce over top of meat. Cover pan with foil.

Cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil and cook for 15-30 minutes (to an internal temperature of 150 degrees).

Cheesy Potato Bake
  • potatoes
  • cheddar cheese
  • monterey cheese
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • milk

Wash potatoes. Remove skin, if desired.

Boil potatoes until tender to the fork.

Roast garlic under a low-heat broiler.

Shred some cheese and chop some cheese.

Whip potatoes with a mixer, adding garlic, milk, and shredded cheese.

Put potatoes in a low sided baking dish. Layer the larger cheese bits on top. Bake at 450 degrees for approximately 15-30 minutes.

Timing Notes

Do all the roasting at the same time, and then mash the potatoes while the meatloaf is in for its first half hour. Put the potatoes in when the cover comes off the meatloaf.

Portion Notes

I didn't measure, why should you? =)

The dish scales easily - I expect I used about a half pound of meat, 1 cup of water for the barley, maybe 1/4 cup barley, and about 527 mostly small potatoes (okay, maybe I over exaggerated by about 500 or so...)
ellyssian: (Default)
If you have a favorite fast food chicken - for example, if you think Chicken McNuggets are pure heaven and Chicken Tenders are mere heathen savages - you can probably list all the reasons why your favorite surpasses another.

Funny, though. Burger King, McDonalds, and Wendy's - nationwide - all get their chicken from one place.


That Burger You're Eating is Mostly Corn (Scientific American) ~ sure, it's just a footnote to an article focusing mostly on beef, and what that beef eats prior to being flame broiled or microwaved or whatnot, but it was an interesting discovery. And as for the subject of the article, I wonder how the beef at the market fares? I expect a lot, if not most-to-all, is also corn-raised.

My preference for former cows goes to Kobe beef, but most of what can be had in restaurants today is Kobe-like beef, raised in America. Remember kids, it's not Kobe beef unless it was born, raised, and slaughtered in the Kobe region of Japan! I came across one site that explained how cows were shipped to California to be raised on cheaper American grain... and from what I've gotten from restaurants, they don't understand the difference. They insist their product is the real thing, when they're only charging $12-15 for a burger... it may be better than prime, and it may be damn tasty, and even grass-fed, but it's still not Kobe beef.

I wouldn't mind at all if more places shifted over to bison... of course, they also get the name wrong there and some will call it buffalo... =)


ellyssian: (Default)

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