Thursday, January 27, 2011

More Food Related News

On the food front, Nicholas made another attempt at seitan, this one a "Corned Seitan" ostensibly reminiscent of corned beef.  It tasted like moose turd pie; it was good though.  Just kidding, it was good, but nothing like corned beef.  More like barbecued brisket, which may have been better anyway.  Made some delicious Cheddar and Seitan Melts on Sourdough.

Now is as good a time as ever for the obligatory photo of Leo.  
I call this one "Waiting for Seitan."

Last Saturday, Nicholas helped me with my work on the retaining wall I'm building at the base of our backyard hill (credit toward #52 on the Gumbilist.)  I am assembling this with railroad ties, which are a pain in the butt to wrestle around.  To reward myself, I made pizza's using  frozen dough from a batch I made a week or two previous.  This was a dough experiment; I figured if it worked it would streamline my pizza making going forward.  The crust was actually better out of the freezer than when it was fresh. Frozen dough did not actually save any time; it took a couple hours to thaw and reach room temperature.  But it did save a bunch of labor.

Anyway, two flavors - Spicy Seitan with Frank's Red Hot Sauce and Red Onions and a mixed vegie with marinara, spinach, basil, fresh tomato, olive, mushroom and a little fresh jalapeno.  Here we have photos of the work in progress, still on the peel, and the finished product.

Finally, on Sunday, I ended up wrestling railroad ties again, this time mostly by myself, Nicholas having figured out that he had some, ah, pressing engagement, yeah that's it.

It had occurred to me that it's been a while since we observed "Dutch Oven Sunday" with the Pims, so I extended an invitation.

I was beat from beating on railroad ties, so I refreshed myself with a bunch of from scratch Margaritas (our lime tree will not stop producing) whirled up in our new KitchenAid blender.  They were yummy, but debilitating come Monday AM.

Dinner consisted of Dutch Oven Layered Enchiladas with roasted Poblano chiles, onions and crimini mushrooms, Spanish Rice and Dutch Oven Pintos with Chorizo (excuse me, Soy-rizo.) and a salad courtesy of Alma.  Good eats, good drinks and good friends.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Remiss in My Duties

I had promised two posts ago that my next post would be about some of the food stuffs prepared over the holidays and I have failed thus far to produce.  So, here's what will be a quick update on many of the food stuffs consumed.

Started off the New Year with a Cross-Eyed Mary.  See photo.
I have to say that I make a pretty good Bloody Mary, cross-eyes or no.

Tee was kind enough to cook our New Year's breakfast, Beer Waffles with blue berry sauce.  The recipe, from Vegetarian Times, was supposed to be for Apple-Cinnamon Waffles, but we were using Sea Dog Blue Paw Wheat Ale, so we skipped the cinnamon-apple.  Blue Paw is pretty awesome; when you open a bottle it smells like blueberry pancakes.

The waffles were excellent!  I actually scored an assist with the blue berry sauce, adapting something from a strawberry crepe recipe; butter (actually vegan margarine), sugar, orange juice, frozen blueberries and a little splash of Gran Marnier.  Easy and delicious!

Produce from the garden, clamoring to be harvested, ended up on the New Years Dinner table.  It was another iteration of Baked Penne with Cauliflower and White Beans, made with another one of those pretty pumpkin-colored cauliflowers from Denise's garden.   (The broccoli ended up in some broccoli-cream soup, courtesy of Denise, also delicious.)

Somehow we failed to get a photo of the finished product, but we do have a shot of the work in progress.  Ultimately, not bad at all.  In fact, this might be turning into one of my favorite baked pastas.

At some point, Nicholas went into league with Seitan, whipping up a seitan stir-fry.  The seitan recipe, from somewhere on the web, he modified by leaving out the Worcestershire and adding 2 Tbsp Braggs Liquid Amino.  The result tasted surprising like chicken.  Actually, I guess not surprisingly; everything tastes like chicken.  The stir-fry was fabulous.

Since we had a bunch of leftover seitan and some canned pumpkin enchilada sauce burning a hole in my pantry, I went with pumpkin enchiladas for dinner later in the week.  This was essentially the same recipe that I did quite a while ago and posted about in Jake's Rehab.  The filling for this one was a little sauteed onion and garlic with chopped seitan and a few herbs and spices; Mexican Oregano and cumin and maybe some other stuff that escapes me.

The finished products were very good.  Actually, I had to make two different versions one with and one without seitan.  The reason, surprisingly enough, was that the seitan tasted too much like chicken.  I think Natalie couldn't convince herself that she was not eating meat with the seitan, so I made a batch that was just cheese only.

Happily, the pressure-canning of the pumpkin enchilada sauce was apparently successful, none of us succumbing to botulinus intoxication.  I breathed a huge sigh of pumpkin-scented relief.

We washed that all down with a Lukcy 13asartd from Stone Brewery.

Over the weekend, it was a late lunch of nachos while watching some game on the telly; what it was was football.

Beyond this point we get into my 101 Things to Do In 1001 Days, so I think my next update will be in that blog.  When the time comes, I will update my...

...Black Bean Burgers Part Deux

And my Guacamole on a Half-Shell.

See you later.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Seven Down

Seven days in and nine hundred ninety-four to go.

Today I ended up doing one of those "have-to-do's" and not a "want-to-to."  

We have a reverse osmosis water filter system under our kitchen sink that has been running waste water down the drain like crazy lately.  The way the RO system works, clean filtered water is routed to the water tap or the holding tank and the crap that's filtered out is flushed out a separate line and down the drain.  It was running so much waste water that I had shut off the cold water supply while I tried to figure out how to fix the thing.  So, for the last week or so, anytime we want to run cold drinking water in the kitchen I have to crawl under the sink and turn the water valve back on.

This morning I did a little research and decided that, a) reverse osmosis systems are always going to waste some water and b) we probably don't really need reverse osmosis in the first place.  So I crawled in under the sink and after much rumination figured out that I could bypass the RO filter canister.  The water still runs through pre- and carbon filters before reaching the tap, so I figure we'll be fine without it.  Just the same, I'm holding on to the parts I removed just in case Denise decides to be dissatisfied with the results.

So, back to the list.  Tonight I am working on item #36; develop an excellent black-bean burger recipe.  (BTW, I'm also working on #1.)  Of course, I've made some moderately tasty BB burgers previously, but I think they need a bit of tweaking.  Tonight's experiment goes as follows...

Black Bean Burger - Take 1

  • 1 - 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 - large clove garlic, finely minced or crushed
  • 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp wheat germ
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp smoked salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup chipotle porter (or any porter would do I suppose)
Place about 2/3 of the beans and remaining ingredients into a food processor.  Pour leftover porter into a frosty mug.  Drink.  Buzz the mixture in the food processor until it forms a ball (the ingredients, not the processor.)  Place remain beans in a bowl, mash a bit, then add the mixture from the food processor and kneed the beans into the dough.  Roll into a ball and chill in the fridge for a while.

(This is as far as I've gotten so far.  I anticipate the remainder of the process  involving forming the dough into patties, maybe dredging the patties in some more bread crumbs and then frying in olive oil for about 4 minutes a side.  To be served on toasted Kaiser rolls with cheese, jalapenos, avocado, red onion, tomato and maybe a little lettuce.  I'll be back later to let you know how it all turns out.  In the meantime I'm watching New Orleans vs Seattle - how does a team with a 7 and 9 record get into the playoffs?!)

An hour and a half later...


I have successfully demonstrated that this was not the recipe I had hoped.  

The burgers were actually pretty of tasty, owing more to the accoutrements than the burger itself.  

Note to self:  WAY too much gluten.  I actually ended up with twice as much gluten in this recipe as had been planned.  I initially mixed it with 1/4 cup of gluten, but the mixture was so wet I had to keep adding gluten to firm up the mixture.  

Second note to self:  the patties were WAY too thick.  Since the patties were relatively thick they didn't really crisp up like I wanted.  Kind of doughy in the middle.

Next time, higher BTG ratio (bean-to-gluten) and I think I will return to using bulghur instead of the wheat germ for a little more texture.  I will also probably drop the Worcestershire and maybe add some ancho or maybe chipotle chili powder.

Had the burgers been better there'd be a photo, but we'll have to wait.  Actually, I should have taken a picture they were beautiful if nothing else.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy New Year's Resolutions!

Belated Happy New Year!  But then, I did wish everyone an early Happy New Year in my previous post, so I'm not going to stress about being late in this case.

I have not, in fact, made any New Year's Resolutions, New Year's Resolutions being only so much crap.  I don't know that I've ever kept for one more than about a day or two.

This year, Nick, sometime around New Year's Day, was reading his list of "101 things to do in 1001 Days", being promoted by a web site, Day Zero Project.  I decided I like the concept much better than resolutions.  This is much simpler; making a list of all the things that you're always saying you want to do some day and giving yourself a time frame to get them done.

Now I assume the list is supposed to be things you WANT to do, but I have include things that I HAVE to do; otherwise, I'll never get 101 things done.

So, anyway here is my first pass at the 101 things I'm going to do in the next 1001 days (actually, next 995, because 6 days have already elapsed since I completed the list.)  The list needs some reflection and probable adjustment, because I'm not sure this is all humanly possible, especially for someone in my condition (and by that I mean married.)

101 Thing to do Before September 28, 2013
  1. Don't die (this would make the rest rather difficult)
  2. Finish the master bed/bathroom remodel
  3. Visit the Smithsonian
  4. Go somewhere where I need my passport (my passport has nary a stamp on it)
  5. Finish reading Stephen King's Dark Tower series
  6. Learn to make really good sourdough bread
  7. Eat Chicago-style pizza in Chicago
  8. Weigh what is says on my driver's license
  9. Bench-press my body weight (i.e. lose 150 lbs)
  10. Double my gas mileage
  11. Learn a language
  12. Hike in Yosemite
  13. Visit Yellowstone
  14. Hike to the summit of San Jacinto Peak
  15. Cure some olives (no matter what ails them)
  16. Read "Lost Moon" by Jim Lovell
  17. Use the public library
  18. Take a photography class
  19. Make cheese
  20. Attend a brewing class (Nicholas has kindly provided me with tickets to "Strong Ales" at Stone Brewing Company for January 24, so if I can avoid #1 for that long, #29 should be in the bag.)
  21. Run a 5K (I also had run a 10K, but since that's just doing a 5K two more times I decided it didn't count)
  22. Visit Death Valley
  23. Attend Shakespeare festival in Ashland, OR
  24. Make tortillas from scratch
  25. Grow rhubarb
  26. See a play
  27. Stalk a celebrity
  28. Learn a new card game
  29. Tour a civil war battlefield
  30. Sample bourbon at a distillery
  31. Take a cooking class
  32. Learn to grow olives
  33. Plan our house remodel
  34. Design an outdoor kitchen
  35. Volunteer at Habitat for Humanity
  36. Develop an excellent black-bean burger recipe
  37. Blow glass
  38. Learn to make neon signs
  39. Have dinner in Idyllwild
  40. Swim in the ocean
  41. Grow my own barley
  42. Brew a beer from scratch (see #41)
  43. Make pastrami (from scratch)
  44. Digitize my LPs
  45. Build a media server
  46. Digitize our videos
  47. Digitize our photos
  48. Manage our investments
  49. Rent a storage locker and clean out the house
  50. Build a storage shed
  51. Build paver walkways
  52. Build retaining walls
  53. Build a brewing station for storing all my stuff
  54. Build a proofing/fermenting box
  55. Reprogram my universal remote
  56. Install an IR remote repeater
  57. Get a remote controlled AV power supply
  58. Investigate solar power for our house
  59. Investigate a solar tube for the hallway in our house
  60. Hike in the Grand Canyon, maybe stay at Phantom Ranch
  61. Have dinner at Cold Springs Tavern
  62. Host a Feast of the Seven (or more) International Fish Dishes
  63. Let someone else cook my birthday dinner
  64. Avoid the urge to dye my hair/get a tattoo/buy a corvette/dump my wife for a younger woman
  65. Encourage Denise to dye her hair/get a tattoo/buy a corvette/dump her husband for a younger man
  66. Decorate with a home-grown Christmas tree
  67. Improve the lighting in this house
  68. Mow the grass with a push mower (don't tell anyone at Toro)
  69. Probably not again in this lifetime
  70. Learn massage
  71. Get a massage (71-a; get back waxed first)
  72. Ski
  73. Waterski
  74. Ride a bike (get a bike)
  75. Dress up and go out
  76. Play tennis
  77. Shoot hoops
  78. Use or lose the boat
  79. Listen to podcasts/audiobooks on the commute
  80. Carpool
  81. Ride bike to the market(s)
  82. Walk to the mall for lunch
  83. Use or lose the golf clubs
  84. Visit Anchor Brewing
  85. Visit Alpine Brewing
  86. Build music boxes with the movements I've had forever
  87. Find a nice spot for Dannie's cremains
  88. Organize my recipes
  89. Create a reading nook
  90. Figure out how to keep Leo from getting so muddy when it rains
  91. Organize the garage so we can get a car in it and still use it as a workshop
  92. Install a dust collection system
  93. Get a new bed
  94. Have my knives professionally sharpened
  95. Plant ground cover on the hill
  96. Design/plant a kitchen herb garden
  97. Build a greenhouse
  98. Convert Nick's old room into my office/exercise/reading/media room
  99. Use Wii Fit more often
  100. Join a CSA
  101. Buy locally, sustainably raised, meat
Contigencies (since I will almost certainly have to drop some of the above)
  1. Eat a Twinkie with a straw
  2. Stalk of celery (in case stalking a celebrity doesn't work out)
  3. More to come...
As of this evening, I can strike #17.  I now have a card at the Temecula Public Library and checked out my first book since leaving Flagstaff in 1995.  The book in question?  "Bonk" by Mary Roach.  I just finished "Stiff" and enjoyed it so much I plan to have myself composted, assuming that Promessa has a licensee somewhere in the United States by the time that I shuffle off this mortal coil.  Who knows, I could, quite literally, be pushing up daisies.

But enough for now.  I'll go into this all more later.

Next post - update on all the food news from the past several weeks, including the Pumpkin-Seitan Enchiladas.

Oh, and BTW, I posted a short update on Jake's Rehab with his latest facial x-ray.  In case anyone is interested.

Bye for now.