Bang for the food buck

So close.. dinner in an hour..

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And the smoker is doing its thing… as soon as it slows, out comes the tongue..

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30 minutes pass and the door is opened..

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I did a lite smoke four rather than 10 hours…. now its cooling so it can be sliced and prettied up, I already know what it tastes like so I’m happy about the whole thing…

There is wasa bread on hand and I’m ready… watching the clock..

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About to be smoked tounge

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One Beef tongue

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One Beef tongue trimmed, mostly because it wouldn’t fit in my little crock pot as is

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The tongue ended up in the deep fryer.. which gets used as an emergency crock pot but has better temperature controls any way…

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And there it abides for a few hours in pickling spices at which point it gets peeled and smoked…the trim went into the pot as well.. waste not want not.. besides Berto likes it when he gets extras.

As a side note…

Smoked tongue runs about $15 per pound and that’s just because its not fashionable..

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..

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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..

Never mind the dog…

100_8679The little guy is Berto, and he has a thing about photo bombing… watching me, and wanting to be in the loop on everything, especially food and the location of my dirty socks, which he hoards..

However,

The masa grinder is the subject.. if you want fresh corn tortillas or masa dough for tamales it’s the way to go…. you can buy masa in a lot of markets and its usually good, but home made is better.

Of course it gets used for more than that, it grinds nuts for walnut butter or whatever and chickpeas for hummis.. which is a chore a lot of blenders can’t handle and I make a lot of it..

I’ve never tried using it for flour for some reason.. But I’m pretty sure it’s because of the burr plates.. I have my doubts it will do the job and its a lot of trouble to find out..

Or at least that’s the current theory to justify a mill or quern..

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….