#kitchen stuff

Spice boxes

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Spice racks don’t really work in my world, because they aren’t the size of bookcases.

So I have a couple of kitchen drawers dedicated to making a spice pile.. which is problematic when I want something.

That aside spice boxes are the bomb.. the problem is getting one big enough, but not quite as big as a Korean apothecary chest. which isn’t a bad idea.

I like Indian spice boxes, but would need to stack them like a dabbawalla and then have too hear how weird I am, as if I cared.

I do have some small antique chests that on occasion get used as spice boxes, but they tend to get pre-empted for storage as needed and hidden away somewhere.

Most American type spice chests are too small, which is kind of an issue.. one good sized dried chili fills a drawer..

I think a trip to the tobacco shop is needed so some cigar box re-tasking can be looked into…or a humidor..

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Rum raisins etc..

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Its talk like a pirate day, which led me to rum, dark Mexican rum to be specific and from there to rum raisins.

At which point the original and simple idea went off the rails…

Currants and dried cherries were added to the mix along with whole spices, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and anise..

The other snap jar has leche de tigre in it from civiche.. but as soon as it’s empty, I have enough rum and raisins left to fill that one also.. the raisins and all should be good to go by December..

Too bad it won’t be ice cream weather on this side of the equator in December… and customs south of that same equator get kind of huffy about jars of hooched up fruit..

I needed a break from cooking critters and wanted to do something different, something that I wouldn’t have to finish off in three days.. I probably could have cheated and used a spiced rum like captain Morgan since its talk like a pirate day.. but $20+ vs $4 won the contest.

Plus I like mine better…Arrrgg

Making progress on dinner

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Sometimes the mid-process of dinner is just not a pretty sight.. Even using a larger cooker, the tongue swelled and popped the cooker lid off… so it got whacked in two.

The white is what needs to peeled off once things have cooled…. it’s like shark skin or sand paper.. rough stuff… but comes off really easy..

The second photo is the tongue peeled and ready to go in the smoker, where it’s been for about two hours..

The last photos will be the pretty ones… everything trimmed and on crostini or wasa bread.. (I was pricing out smoked tongue and the supplier noted his product has a %2 fat content)

I snuck a bite pre-smoker.. it was great, and the liquid from braising the thing is an amazing beef stock… which could well become chili or something equally high value on my like list..

Some of the stock will go towards the steak and kidney project… I really can’t think of anything better to simmer the beef and kidney bits in…

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..

How not to use an electric kettle..

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Apparently boiling eggs, making ramen or spice mixes for masala tea in an electric kettle is ok..

But, using an electric kettle to the heat milk for custard is ill advised..OOps

Got it…

Getting out the burned milk can be an issue…. soaking was no help, scrubbing more of the same… arcane concoctions of baking soda and dish soap did no good at all…

The advice of on-line cleaning “experts” was also ineffective and even more annoying.

However… the battle was finally won by oven cleaner since its made for carbon build up, and is pretty much standard equipment for… cleaning ovens.

I just got tired of messing around.. getting the burned milk out took a 5 second spray and 5 minute rest followed by a rinse.. it’s the same thing I do to de-crust cast iron pots and what-not that get used over a wood fire..

I just didn’t want to go to the dollar store… but I have a few uses for the stuff including cleaning an oven or two that are ready to be put to use once summer loosens its grip and I can use gas without suffocation..heat stroke or paying for even more electricity to cool down the house as I run an oven..

That being said…. Tip one, don’t. Tip two, just use oven cleaner and call it good..

Civiche

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Today was sorta busy, and I decided civiche was in order at some point, so everything got rounded up to do just that..

I also needed to get a couple of snap lid jars for different things so, today was the day for errands..

The butcher had beef kidney and is hunting for pork bellies, which comes into play later.. He’s the good butcher, the one that gets all excited about new stuff.. I was excited about only paying $1.79 a pound for beef kidneys and less than hamburger for yet another tongue.. which is better than steaks anyway..

Then we switched gears to civiche and got serious.. I wander out with talapia, cod and shrimp.. plus a pile of limes and cilantro the size of my head.. not to mention the offal..

The civiche got started as soon as I got home..and thats kind of it..

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..

Flea market pizza oven review..

Pizza oven

Pizza oven

I posted this photo before in the context of confusing co-workers at lunch time…

However, its also a life style enhancement if you like pizza and non-poofy flat breads or crostini.

I got this one at a flea market for $20 its a commercial Tony’s Pizza oven, its fast, simple and dependable.. I doesn’t need warm up time, doesn’t heat up the house, it cooks a pizza in 10 minutes.. its portable and its shiny.

One 12″ pizza the way I want it, paid for the thing.

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….