Guy stuff

Baking custard at 4:00 AM



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.


Hibiscus tea..


The claret glass is just because the color of the tea is so nice.

I really need to work on the photography end of things, I know how to deal with glare, flash, lighting, reflection, back drops and do a good job of it..

But personal stuff is sort of slap dash, point and click..

No excuses though…

I wanted the tea more than the photo… it was one of those “I want it NOW” moods and setting up the light cube cuts into the much desired instant gratification..

Hibiscus tea is sort of a special occasion, company thing.. except today there was no company and no special occasion, other than getting thrown by my bicycle for the second time in a week..but riding a bike down stairs probably wasn’t a good idea, even if it seemed so at the time…

There may be an impulse control issue in there somewhere…which explains a lot..

Tacos de lingua and smoked tounge

100_9001I kinda bent the rules a little, but sort of had to, tongue was cheaper than hamburger and its way over the top as far as food goodness goes…it was at one time in history a luxury item, for good reason..

However its not photography pretty.. the photo is just to show it exists and isn’t smuggled into the country in the back of a car by rogue carniceria butchers without green cards…

That particular statement still annoys me no end.. nothing like an independent businessman, undercutting inflated prices and providing better service to arouse the ire of a chain store butcher prone to gouging and price fixing…

Besides I like local artisanal butchers, chain store, industrial whack and pack has scant charm…

I just checked my zen..and I’m still annoyed.

I’ve been to Mexico quite a bit and like the street food.. whatever it is, the trick is to find a line of brown faces, which will lead without fail to the best cart or taquaria (phonetic spelling) in town..

The tourists tend to follow some guide book and want hamburger tacos on wonder bread.. or El Huevo McMuffin.. Not to mention acting in a generally cringe worthy manner.. like talking louder is a substitute for speaking just a little Spanish or worse than that, English with a fake Spanish accent… and adding an O or A to every third word..

But, the good news is, I know they won’t go into an alley or down an unpaved street..

OK I feel better now..

Nothing like a good rant yes?

Basil, rosemary and brisket bones..

100_8127Budget and dinner improvement…. Grow basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, mint and what-not in pots….Or potatoes, tomatoes and chilis for that matter….

I’m not good at gardening, but its still worth doing.

Heat is the biggest issue in my world and basil isn’t exactly a desert dweller.. it does fine in an air conditioned mega mart… but outside, not so great when it hits 125 or so..

I like window boxes and house plant’s, it all adds to ones life, ambiance and air quality.. while stepping up your pizza and caprese salads.. Plus having rosemary on hand for bread and general cooking utility is also kinda huge…

And its a quiet pleasurable thing… almost as good if not better than reading, it can be beautiful, a small oasis of feng shui and chi building, the scents alone are a gift that keeps on giving..

Fresh basil is expensive… but growing isn’t.. plus there’s bragging right’s if you’re into show and tell… you can do garden club horse horse trades for chilis or pester the AG department at the college for cuttings…

I was never into the social aspects of potted plants but other people go wild…

My notions of potted plants and gardening tends to be personal and an investment of care, which is probably a good thing..

But garden clubs go against my reclusive tendencies and fortress of solitude mind set…

Part two.. brisket bones..


Today I was on a brisket bone search.. and finally found some, the last pack in fact, one of the butchers said he’d been working in the trade 30 years and never heard of them… but it was a matter of trade language and once we got past that it was all good… Brisket bones are trim from making those cute little rib racks, that run $3.00 per pound… Brisket bones are $1.49 with no bones, just cartilaginous goodness.. which is the end of a full rack I always liked best… then you look at the meat to bone ratio and the deal gets better…

(I was told they were unavailable) due to mad cow disease.. umm.. dude its pork, the correct scare marketing is cholera or trichinosis..

The first butcher and I went round and round… he told me offal isn’t available, nor are pork bellies, tongue and kidney etc are equally unavailable…

Since I had two of three items in my pack…. he lost some credibility and then his mind, when I said “not so at a carniceria” and then the whole nationalist, racist thing came out..all carefully phrased and covert of course, but still irritating.. I don’t like having my chain pulled or hearing nonsense..

The colorful Interior shot…

018100_8140013016Aside from dinner, its about books, all things shiny, study, work, hiding out and generally living like a medieval monk.

It’s mostly quiet… not counting whatever racket I generate or music that amuses my neighbors…

Unpacking is still being done… its an “as needed” thing, not to mention an unsettling commitment to staying put..

My house has wheels for a reason..

Spices, chilis, meat and other life essentials…

100_8981I don’t have time today to make a pickling mix or deal with a depleted pantry… I’m due to get bulk spices in about a month when they reopen the shop.. So for now its my beloved El Guapo back up spices from Bashas..

They have a lot of bulk stuff but sadly, not everything I use, still it’s good for what it is…

And it’s a project thing, so ya do what ya gotta do…..

The project is smoked beef tongue… which got justified simply because it was cheaper than hamburger.. and better than most beef cuts I can recall and its just beefy goodness.

While picking up the tongue, I spotted some briskets that were cheaper still, ($3.50 a pound) but the weight brought the price up to $40+ and it was so big it would take forever to eat the thing…

But who knows… and I drifted off track, maybe I can cut, pack and freeze it in 5 pound chunks.. except its still a years worth of indulgence.. unless the butcher can be connived into selling me a smaller piece.. or the corned beef option kicks in once my smoked brisket issue is dealt with…

Maybe a whole brisket is not a bad idea.. corned beef and cabbage is in my DNA, winter is on the way, its a good budget ‘bang for the food buck’ move, and various other self-serving, justifications.

Then I returned to reality and made a quick get away…

Things are busy enough as they are..

Pot pies

100_8871100_8868The only thing I like more than making my dinner is seeing what other people do for theirs… so reading the various blogs and posts are fun for me.. I learn things, get a better sense of presentation and the visuals involved… which I forgot to mention in the last post..

And on to pot pies…

I got some single serve pie tins and made pot-pies last week along with roasted everything I could find… the pot-pies were excellent and substantial, mostly chicken, followed by potatoes, carrots and real stuff that has some flavor….. not three micro-cubes of chicken floating in a thickening agent..

Today I was pestering the butcher about brisket bones and kidneys.. The kidneys come in Thursday so that will be fun, the brisket bones “no luck” they don’t carry them.. which means I’ll be back tracking the other shops..

None of which is the point, other than, as I was standing there having a chat, it dawned on me..

I don’t have to stick with chicken, beef or turkey pot pies.. there are no rules, the pot-pie police won’t swear out a warrant or come snatch me up for deviant behavior…

The Brits do pork pies, steak and kidney pies….So why shouldn’t I have at it?

I like chili verde.. (pork with green chilis and tomatillos).. So now I want to make green chili and pork pot-pies and see how that goes..

Which is pretty exciting from my way of thinking…. the kidneys will now probably end up in pies instead of on skewers, which I hadn’t planned but as long as I’m on a roll, might as well….



100_8740I had to edit the blog photos a little.

Apparently a non ramekin photo slipped in which was a rather colorful interior shot of my hide out..

Nothing like a Balinese mask, a pewter tankard and Chinese brushes in a carved stone brush jar to throw things off track..

The two photos are the same ramekin under different lights, but I tend to be indifferent to anything other than prying out the contents as fast as possible…

I like ramekins as a single serve type thing… they look nice and are actually pretty handy..

This go round, I loaded them up with chicken livers, an egg, bacon and mozzarella, along with the attendant salt, peppers, garlic and onion..

Which worked out, since I was too lazy to make a pate..

A few days later the ramekins got another work out this time it was polenta, bacon and… two eggs got added about half way through, then covered with mozzarella, Parmesan and finished off under the broiler.. which made for pretty quick breakfast, with no pots or pans..

What I originally got the things for were pot pies, rice puddings and custards, but I’m not really a desert guy, its a guest thing and since I don’t have guests or entertain other than in theory and concept..

It was bugging me seeing them sit there… but now its all good and peace has returned to my domain.

Now I just need to deal with 6″ spring pans, but I do like cheese cake every three years or so.

Ramen suprise


100_8976About 7:00 I decided to go get something that could be fixed for dinner….. then notice some water on the floor, but the neighbor had been out hosing off his boat… So I just shrugged and went on..

At least till I opened the door, which apparently now opens to another dimension of howling wind and sideways rain… I eyed my bike, accessed the wind and figured it would blow me backwards to about New Mexico… And Phoenix is cool and all, but its flooded and nothing is open anyway..

Fine I’ll walk to Bashas at a 45 degree angle….. then decided to do a personal inventory, cell phone, not water proof, back pack, not water proof, tobacco products, worse than not water proof….

The whole buck shot feel of a sideways deluge was also an issue… I stand in the rain a minute and that’s that..the fantasy is over.

And scurrying back inside is the proper decision..

Fortunately I have two cases of defrosting needed…

So it gets elected for dinner.. with modifications. 1. the seasoning packet gets thrown away
2. I have some salmon and shrimp that can go in the mix…. along with red pepper flakes, ginger, mirrin, garlic, onion and soy sauce…

Everything else is frozen or annoying and I didn’t want to deal with it…

Bacon and cabbage


100_8971 Every now and then you revert to comfort foods… which all depends on how you define comfort..

So lunch is cabbage and bacon, its different than when I was a kid in that it contains actual bacon, but it still works.

I use bacon ends, because I cut everything up anyway so why pay the overage? The cabbage isn’t fried its steamed.. and some shrimp got added to the mix, I was thinking the cabbage or bacon might overwhelm them, but wanted to know for sure….

It was actually a really good combo…

Red pepper flakes and black pepper were used in the cooking as was caraway seed… garlic and a little water to make steam once the bacon was rendered…

It was way better than memory… always a plus no?