Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Brews News

This just in:

Bottled: A very dark IPA sort of thing. Probably more like a roasted, hoppy amber. I call it No Brainer because it was my first all (well, mostly) grain batch with my new mash tun, and I totally botched the mash temp. OG = 1.060, FG = 1.018 (a little on the sweet side, but I dry hopped it while bottling).

Brewed: A new hybrid of my own design: DoppelIPA. Basically, it's a doppelbock recipe, but with Cascade hops at the end and pitched into the yeast from the batch I just bottled. It's already bubbling, just a few hours later.... the power of MORE YEAST! OG = 1.070.

In the near future: Once the krausen disappears from this Doppelmonster, that'll go in the secondary, and I will brew a Steam beer-- straight pale malt and crystal, Northern Brewer hops, and Wyeast's San Francisco Lager yeast, which can withstand higher temps without going all fusely/fruity (hopefully). OG = ?. I just wanna have that nice caramelly whisper that Anchor does... plus the flavor of home.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Approximate : Disintegration

Combine canned tomatoes (with juice), 2 cups cooked rice, grated cheddar, salsa, sour cream, beans of your choice, black pepper, and anything else remotely Mexican, or whatever really, in a 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes, then top with some olives, cilantro, green onions. A breeze!

Saute some broccoli and beets together until the beets are tender, adding a little water if necessary. Add cooked rice and chopped chard. Cook until hot. Add a little soy sauce. Spread hummus, goat cheese, and mustard down the center of a warm tortilla, pile on the filling, top with avocado, and wrap. It's kinda pink!

Stir fry:
Over medium high heat in a big pan, add any vegetables and spices that you think will go together. Add the vegetables in order of hardness, from hard to soft, every couple minutes, but start with the onions. Add everything on your spice rack or just one spice/herb, if you want. It'll probably be awesome.

The idea here is that, well, you don't need me or anybody else to make simple, delicious meals. Cakes, cookies, pastries, meat, breads, fermented/pickled foods and other specifically-proportioned meals really deserve intensive recipes. This sort of thing you can make up on your own; it'll develop your intuition and sensitivity to specific flavors that you maybe had never known before (I now recognize coriander seed because I put way too much on some greens once. It was delicious.) Go into your kitchen, ignore the cookbooks, look in every cupboard and shelf in your fridge, take stuff out and combine. Don't worry too much. Approximate.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Kitchen A Go-Go

It's my first real snow day! What a great time to fire up the ol' Kitchen In America, upload some grainy pictures of dinners past, and relieve myself of some pent up thoughts on food.


The Red Cabbage of Courage

What the hell do you do with a red cabbage? Ask the internet, and all you get is "shred and braise with some apples." Or meat. No can do, world. The red cabbage was one of the last items from our last CSA box, and I wish it hadn't been; it left me with a sort of helpless feeling, "well, I guess the rest of this winter's food is going to be just as floppy." It got braised. Once with apples and other stuff, and the other half with ginger and carrots. I don't envy the people who may have to eat this every day. Not that it was bad; the cabbage develops a nice earthy flavor that's balanced by sweet apples or the combination of ginger's zesty charm with the afterthought of sweetness from a good carrot. It seems a shame that there isn't more to do with such a pretty, underappreciated vegetable. Next time I have one, I'll be more aggressive.


I made seitan last week. It's another one of those meat substitutes that looks like poop but tastes awesome. It's especially good with scrambled eggs; spice it and shred it and it's almost chorizo. It would have been great in these stuffed acorn squash; they definitely needed something meaty, though they look cute enough to devour here. I've been devouring the Moosewood Cookbook's "at home" version, but finding that I already do variations on many of the recipes; their flavor combinations and cooking methods are very similar to mine.


On To The Bread!

My new job, squeezing goats for money, left me a pretty tired after the first few days; the new sleep schedule altered my appetite/desire to leave the couch to the chagrin of my yeast addiction; I went into withdrawal, became pale and sour smelling, and ultimately deflated into a puddle of goo. I started a poolish last week with no particular intentions, just to have some bread around, when I remembered an article my stepmom sent me. On Saturday I split up the poolish and whipped up two doughs. The first was a pretty standard, too-wet-to-knead ciabatta dough, straight up. The second, based on the article, was thick and sticky with molasses, sugar, an egg white, and more flour than I thought reasonable. It took a long time and many gluten rests to get this mass to windowpane, and then even after two days in the fridge it had hardly risen. I was worried; I don't like to admit defeat and throw away dough (I never have, but I have choked down some mediocre loaves). I decided to trust the author, despite my having made a few alterations to the recipe, and plug ahead. I cut the dough into eight pieces, rolled those into tubes, and pinched the ends together. A short rise later I plopped them into some boiling water for a minute, and baked them on a wire rack.

Voila! Bagels! And without a hint of fat, either. The crust had that toothy rubberiness that bagel snobs seek out, so I hear. They were a bit dark from the molasses, but toasted and spread with some pear-anise goat cheese they were a rich, filling breakfast.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Horrible pictures from Thanksgiving

I will, one of these days, actually take a photograph of people and food that looks slightly appetizing. As it is, you will have to imagine that everything and everybody in these pictures was wonderful, delicious, and entertaining.

That's olive bread in the basket. Walnuts and goat cheese to the side. Wine and Tony. Improvised cushions.

I apologize to everybody who sees this picture. It's not flattering because I can't take a damn picture.

I also apologize if this doesn't look appetizing. It was. And it still is. You can actually mix all of these together and put some cranberry sauce on top and make the most delicious gruel ever.

Even the birds got their Thanksgiving feast on-- they were out there for most of the day!

Notes From The Yeastmaster: Olive Bread

There is a trick to getting it just right. It's a secret trick, so I can't tell you what it is, but I can tell you that it's all in the mind. It's intuition. And I don't mean to too my own horn here, but I've got it.
Ok, that's actually the secret. And I may or may not have it.

I am culturing a nickname for myself, and that nickname is the Yeastmaster. I like to think of myself as being in control of, and one with, yeast. This is a dangerous game to be playing, I know. I'm not lying when I tell you that I think I'm responsible for the infection of both a jar of maple syrup and a jar of molasses. The syrup was a little bubbly from the beginning, but as time went by, it gradually transformed into an inedible, obviously alcoholic, Bizarro maple syrup. It was not good on pancakes, much less in the mouth. Perhaps an industrial Vermonter or Canuk will figure out a good maple liqueur recipe. As for the molasses, it still smells good and has only breached the lid once. I am the YEASTMASTER! Watch me convert sugars and carbohydrates into alcohol and CO2! Hear me gurgle!

Yes, so I made olive bread as the official bread of this year's Thanksgiving feast for four. It all started on Tuesday, when I put together two cups of water and flour and 1/4 teaspoon of yeast and stuck it in the fridge. By about noon on Thursday (after some incantations and other sorts of black magic), it was two loaves of bread that not only tasted like olives, but smelled and looked like olives.

To once more toot my horn, it came out perfectly, and you should be jealous that you didn't get to try it. The crust was firm and tender, with just a little crisp to it, and the crumb was nicely gelatinized. Gelatinized? Yes; the web of holes and gluten had heated up in just the right way to give the interior a sort of sheen, the kind that you see on the bread served at nice restaurants. It was moist and chewy, and because of the added olive oil and some of the brine from the olives, each bite had the essence of garlic stuffed olives, if not an actual olive piece. It was also good with herbed chevre and toasted walnuts with rosemary.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tomorrow is Turkeyday. What are you gonna do about it?

Hello fan. This will be brief, terse, to the point, and not beat around the bush.

I'm hosting Thanksgiving, and I am not preparing a turkey. It was considered for a few minutes; I crave protein like Chrysler craves a few billion dollars, except that my craving doesn't involve screwing people. Just meat. Not screwing meat, eating it. Anyway, here's what's on the menu for tomorrow's feast:

Walnuts toasted with butter, cayenne, and rosemary

Olive bread & goat cheese (the cheese was free from a friend of Liz's!)

An abstract expressionist salad, provided by Tobias

Carrot ginger soup

Roasted roots (good band name, btw)

Lentil Fake Sausage Casserole

Dairy-free pumpkin pie

Homemade ice cream or sorbet

Booze. Well, wine


This last dish is the most appetizing, as far as I'm concerned. I hope your mouth is leaking, 'cause mine is. Pictures of food and fun to follow.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tempeh-mental (and welcome)

Hi. I cook a lot. My cooking footprint is probably bigger than my driving footprint, and perhaps even bigger than my actual footprint. Being unemployed leaves me with idle hands, an idle mind, and overactive tastebuds, so I spend some of my day scheming up recipes and perusing cookbooks from the library. Except for the mystical world of manmade leaveners (read: baking powder/soda), I use recipes more as guidelines than actual rules. This abstract will attempt to explain my current state of tongue, and will introduce to you a blog, the distracted cousin of my other blog, Lost In America, called Kitchen in America.

It is not a very creative title, but it generally sums up my location: a kitchen somewhere in America. Eugene, Oregon, America. I hope to be able to translate the neural communication between my mind, hands, and mouth into this other, more readable form of communication in order to improve my writing skills, put my own food ideas on the internet, use up some of my free time, and let my parents know that I am most certainly eating my veggies. Actually, that's just about all I eat.

Sometimes what I eat does not look exactly like vegetable matter. Sometimes I eat tempeh, another fermented soy product which looks a little like agglomerated bird poo and seashells, but is a great absorber of flavors that also flavor meat. I get my tempeh from a place in town called Surata, which makes the tempeh and sells its seconds at half price on Tuesdays and Thursdays (52 oz. for $3? Yes!). My most recent tempeh creation was a real inspired moment:

Blackened Cajun Tempeh

1 8 oz. tempeh patty, sliced crossways into 1/2" strips
3T olive oil (non-virgin is fine, you prudes)
2T balsamic vinegar
hot horseradish

In a dish just big enough to hold the tempeh in one layer, add the tempeh, oil, and vinegar. Tempeh is like a sponge, it's great. Rub as much horseradish as you want on the top, then sprinkle with similar amounts (personal preference, artistic license, etc.) of cayenne, paprika, salt, and pepper (I like heavy on the peppers). Don't use a whole lot of salt. Flip the lot over and repeat.

To cook get a nonstick saute pan nice and hot, then reduce the heat to medium. No need to oil, it's all soaked up in the tempeh. Put the tempeh in (it should sizzle like meat) and let it sit in the pan until you can't take it anymore, or until it just barely smokes. Turn each piece 90 degrees, and let that side blacken-- don't be too afraid of burning, that's part of what makes this delicious. Turn until all 4 sides are black (I know it has 6 sides. Don't worry about the little ones.).

Serve as an appetizer or side dish with some barbecue sauce to dip, and eat it with your fingers, please.

Well, that concludes the first portion of many meals. I'll be putting up pictures just as soon as I remember to take them.