Insomnia

Pie dough and insomnia

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Sometimes projects come under the heading “proof of concept” which is then followed by refinement, hopefully ending in the OMG factor…

In some of the empanada looking things, the filling was green chili and pork “brisket”…. the others were roasted chicken, also with green chili.. plus they both got mozzarella mixed in with everything else…

I used a dough I could bake…. because fried isn’t something I like doing and have no good answer as to why not…

The concept is better than good, the little pie crusty things hit the OMG zone from the start.. just the baking aromas were enough to fire up a weak appetite.. The taste clinched the deal… I want a dozen or so more even it it was a pain to pull off…

But I learned a few things.. mince the filling finer, so the lumpy look goes away and it doesn’t poke through the dough… And don’t think about handling that kind of dough when its over 100 degrees at 3:00 AM cause it won’t be pretty even if it is amazing in every other way..

Seriously, I can put holes in that type of dough by looking at it, and need every advantage possible.

But other than that I was happy, happy with the results.. the crust was flaky and it all worked just right together..

Once the weather cools to a point butter doesn’t melt in five minutes… I want to do some more of the little crusty things with an eye to making them beautiful and refining the process..

And now I need to defrost the beef tongue so that can be dealt with, hopefully during daylight hours so the neighbors don’t smell smoke at 3:00 AM and freak out…

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New and improved baked custard

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I woke up in the middle of someone else’s night and got busy making baked custard, yet again..

One would think bouncing out of bed somewhere between midnight and 4:00 AM could be a problem, but it’s not (other than the stores being closed)..

It’s quiet, the night air is cool and I can concentrate on the tasks at hand, my mind is relatively fresh and relaxed..

Then I cook, bake or go off on random food tangents and decide to do something like make pickles..or spray paint the BBQ, Which works for me..

The Baked Custard project is one of those things rooted in nostalgia… Which I make for fun, then modify till it’s better than I remember..

Which isn’t all that hard given a half century time lapse….

I’m not sure whats driving me… other than food shouldn’t be sad, middle of the road one size fits all, blandness.. Music isn’t one note, art isn’t one color.. So I’m thinkin dinner might need to be more…. dynamic.

Which is sort of ironic when one is dealing with baked custard.. but makes sense when freshly grated nutmeg makes its statement followed by the silky texture of said custard and Mexican vanilla changes your notion of what you thought was good..

Baking custard at 4:00 AM

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I’m prone to waking up between 2:00 and 4:00 AM then cooking something for later in the day, rather than midnight snacking like a normal person..

Which is fine in it’s way… this time it was a little different, I had everything out and ready to go, rather than rummaging or working through some half formed idea.

Using the ramekins for egg custard, rather than some culinary alchemy is the pay off “this time”..

Why I only bought three ramekins is beyond me, other than I live by myself and don’t entertain… so it seemed like a reasonable number at the time..

Most recipes are for a goodly quantity and three is a logistical nightmare.. So it seems I need more or bigger ramekins.. probably both.

Working through the current project list is a project…since stuff gets hi-jacked and pressed into service as dinner out of sequence.

And there are some compelling projects.. Pot pies being a big one, but I keep eating the pork, beef and whatever meant for fillings because I’m to tired to fool with crusts and pans, much less waiting another hour…

The smoker is 10 hours of watchful attentiveness and that ain’t happenin, just yet.

3 AM and the salmon is out of the smoker

100_8969The gravlax spent four hours being transformed to smokey Uber-gravlax.. a little darker, a little denser, a little more everything.

There is a plan for it….first, perfect paper thin slices on the darkest thinnest rye I can find..or an herbed multi grain rye cracker.. with dilled havarti..

Phase two is a pate so I can make the gravlax love last a little longer and change it up some

The smoker did exactly what it was supposed to and held the temperature just right for cold smoking..

It was fun and a good amount of bang for the buck..

I was babbling about wanting a smoked brisket and was notified officially I need to put bacon and smoked tongue on the “to do” list for project week..

So early tomorrow it’s off to the butcher I go.. the only concern is my diet has been a bit rich lately and out of the norm.. its usually salads, vegetables, yogurt, fruit, beans and lentils, pasta and whatever I bake for the day.. 90% vegetarian..excepting the habitual pizza or occasional chicken quarter.. fish and shellfish…

Make that 80% vegetarian..

A magical budget upgrade..

100_8960 100_8963 100_8964The salmon was $9 or $10 per pound… after I cured it in koshering salt, sugar and dill weed.. its gravlax. $40-$50 per pound..the last step is smoking the gravlax which sells at around $100 per pound…

No way I can afford that, no matter how much I like it.

But there’s always a way around things..

The smoker was a walmart $100+ floor model but I got it for $20 because it wasn’t shiny anymore and the door wouldn’t close… reason being, they put it together wrong… So I made an offer, took it home and spent 2 minutes putting it together correctly…

The slab on top is a pizza stone that fits inside the smoker…when I want to use it as a wood fired pizza oven… I rearranged the fire pan put in a baffle so the stone isn’t in direct contact with the fire… etc. etc. etc.

The gravlax gets a cold smoke for four hours and its all done…

The fire pan this go round is a hotplate so I can keep the heat control tight at 100-120 degrees..

Of course its close to 11:00 PM and I’ll be messing with it till 3:00 AM, but its one of those no brainer insomnia chores… so I’m happy about it….

Castle and moat

100_8718home sweer home 005home sweer home 007100_8615I like to live on commercial property, it usually has 220 and natural gas lines, the neighbors don’t care what I do or how much noise I make.. security tends to be good and the nights free from idlers… I like that I can drive a truck through the door and move my house inside… there’s lots of room and I can do whatever, the overhead storage is a plus..it has a rest room and what not, so its pretty much nirvana for the insomnia prone.. occasionally during monsoon it becomes waterfront property…but it’s a nice change from relentless heat.. For about 3 hours, then its a sauna and the heat becomes suffocating rather than merely blistering… But at least there’s no snow…

The shop is still being arranged…. more tools and equipment to move in, projects to consolidate, complete then dispose of… I’m lacking my silversmiths bench, lapidary tools and need to move in a beautiful push cart that I plan on refinishing for the renn-fair circuit… there are exhibition booths to build and photo back drops to set up… As well as a work bench for stained glass and God knows what..

I really need the space and aside from that most apartment owners don’t like welding or paint booths in the living room….much less saws running at 2:00 AM.. or kilns, foundry furnaces and noxious smells…

Its really not that odd.. rent is a third of a house, I can do whatever, when-ever and everyone is cool.. the owner says if I want to build an apartment in the rafters or make a loft its all good..

I won’t but the option is nice..

I got this spot because the feds changed the rules on airplane hangars… you can’t turn them into studios anymore much less live in one.. but it’ll do.

I don’t care about social life or entertaining.. it’s about work, art impulses, dinner and my beloved privacy… I don’t like distractions or anyone eyeing a work in progress, the GF being the only exception since shes about as twisted as I am….

I’ll never understand her attraction to me.. I live like a monk, but she thinks I’m funny and I never tell her no if she wants to learn stuff.. I don’t have that “a woman’s place is___” thing in my head..or “you can’t”, it’s just nonsense, there is no competition about anything.. we’re co-conspirators..

Sometimes 1+1=11 not 2

End of diatribe…..

Some days ya do what ya gotta do..

100_8817Every picture tells a story don’t it…. I blew up my truck and needed a counter-top oven more than dignity, so expedience ruled the day.. which it usually does.

The adventure was tying the oven to the bike, while shoppers made a wide path around me avoiding eye contact. Which I found amusing.

Apparently there were implications of homelessness or insanity in the activity… But one would think since it was an oven, I might have the resources to plug it in somewhere, other than a cactus.

People who knew me laughed or smiled since my quirks are fairly well known and everything is under control, albeit odd given my methods of problem solving..

But problem solving is the key no?

Besides the oven has a rotisserie built in, aside from a broil and convection function. So ya do what ya gotta do.

No longing, wishing or unfulfilled desires..it’s all about “how does this thing get done”.

And that’s kind of that… faint heart never won fair anything, except maybe a pace-maker.

So whatever.

I decided I want a butcher block table and another industrial type bakers rack along with the usual bulk bottles of propane for my regular oven.

But as noted the beloved truck is indisposed with a cracked head and in various pieces… Swell, fine that’s life etc.

Everything I do is within ten miles, so why not haul a trailer behind the bike? Aside from the fact a bicycle cargo trailer costs around $700 and that’s not gonna happen..

But building a bike trailer isn’t out of the question..

I have the steel, know how to weld and building a trailer solves my current problem… which is dragging home a butcher block table, a commercial bakers rack and bulk propane…

Besides, bicycles kind of fascinate me regardless of what anyone thinks, and I don’t have to spend $100 a week on gas

3 A.M. Chicken….

100_8954I blame insomnia..and sketchy impulse control.

I know the photo isn’t all that but its 3 A.M and it is what it is… I roasted the chicken to eat not look at..

The chicken is great though… lots of pepper because the lid fell off, but I don’t care because I like it…and pre-ground pepper isn’t that potent.

I wasn’t hungry, just idle… and assume it will make a nice lunch or dinner when the time comes.

The choice is cob salad, sandwiches “if” I make bread or a few pot pies… unless I freak out and just gnaw the thing as is…

Insomnia isn’t much fun.. but it’s manageable if you don’t get involved in complicated stuff, try to be coherent or take photos..