Saturday, March 5, 2011

Such a Busy Weekend and So Little to Show for It

By last Saturday my lye had arrived, so I was up early prepping some olives for curing in a lye solution.  Gloved up, safety goggles on, I was ready to take on these little puppies.  I suspected the cheesy latex examination gloves stolen from Denise were not actually lye-proof, so I was trying to be a little more careful than is my norm.  The process is actually fairly simple.  Put the olives in a lye-proof container, measure out the lye and add it to the specified amount of water, then pour the solution over the olives.  Wait 12 to 30 hours and then pour off the lye solution and cover again in water.  You are supposed to change the water regularly to leach the lye out of the olives.  Interestingly, you are supposed to tell when the olives are sufficiently treated by periodically tasting them to see if they still taste like lye.

Since I was up I started working on other food related projects.  Made a double-batch of dog biscuits with the remaining spent grain from the previous week's brew session.

At some point my roommates got up and I convinced Nicholas to make breakfast; Vegetarian Chorizo Potatoes and Egg Scramble.

Now in a lye-inspired cooking frenzy, I moved on to another lye-based recipe; German-Style Pretzels.  Googled the topic and a few recipes and a billion lye-related warnings later I dove right in.  (Figuratively, of course.   Literally diving into lye would be problematic.)

I started screwing up right off the bat, having no bread flour as called for in the recipe and substituted all-purpose instead.  With the dough rising Nick and I made a quick run to the grocery store, too late for the bread flour, but I bought some anyway.

By the time we got home the dough was ready to shape.  There's a YouTube video of professional German bakers twisting pretzels like crazy.  As I was telling Nicholas about it, I did a quick flip and landed a perfect pretzel shape on the first try.  Needless to say, that was the last perfect attempt, but the rest turned out generally OK.

The shaped pretzels got a rest in the fridge for an hour.  Cleaning fridge space sufficient for the baking sheet was tricky and in the process we found all manner of festering leftovers and my long neglected jar of sourdough starter.  Since I had to get it out of the way anyway, I left the starter on the counter to warm up to room temperature for feeding and possible rehabilitation.

After the fridge, the pretzels needed a dip in the lye, so it was time to glove/goggle up again.  Out of the lying pan and into the fire, so to speak, twenty or so minutes later we had something akin to the photo at right.  OMGWTF!  They did not last long.  See shots of the entire process here.

While we baked the pretzels, Nicholas started assembly meatless Italian Sausages and I entertained myself making a knockoff of TGI Friday's Jalapeno Fire Bites.

Cooking completed, we set off for Guitar Center where I picked up a preamp for my turntable, which I have not been able to use since upgrading my home theater receiver.

Conveniently, Guitar Center is about two shop fronts down from a BevMo.  We made a brief visit and picked up a few staples.  I was planning to pay and Nicholas was carrying the basket when we reached the register.  The checker cards Nicholas (seemed reasonable) and then she says she needs to see my ID.
"Ha-Ha!  That's funny."
"No really, because you're buying for him and I had to card him I have to card you too."
"WTF?!?!   How does this make any fucking sense, considering that you've already established the he's over 21?""Hey, it's a complement."
"Fuck you."  I showed her my license.
"No, I need you to remove it from your wallet."
"Again WTF!?!?  What is this a traffic stop."
OK, most of my lines in the preceding exchange were in my head, but I did refuse to smile at her, which is something because I'm usually pretty happy at BevMo.

Back at home, Nicholas and I decided that having purchased some Kahlua it would be a good evening for White Russians and The Big Lebowski.  Started assembling the Caucasians.  Vodka, check.  Kahlua, check.  Half-n-half, not so much.  Turns out our options were fat free milk or almond milk.  Bleah.

Not to be dissuaded, we decided to barter for dairy.  Carrying a couple pretzels and a pair Black Russians, we headed for the Pim's.  Larry was persuaded, accepting our pretzelly offerings and floating a dollop of Half-n-Half in each of our glasses.  Umm, tasty!

At some point later in the evening, back at home, I made myself a second drink and figured how bad can a Caucasian be with almond milk.  Pretty bad, as it turns out.  Oh well, the movie was fun anyway.

Sunday, more cooking.  We had a boat load of CSA cilantro, some in the fridge, some in cold storage in the garage and likely a bunch more coming on Tuesday.  So, I made Jalapeno-Cilantro-Pepita Pesto.

While I was at it I made some salsa with the last of the garden's tomatillos.

When the roommates were finally up we made Blueberry Sourdough Pancakes, with the starter I revitalized on Saturday.

Cleaning up the kitchen I found some pumpkins that have been around forever.  One was looking a little funky, but the seeds were fine, so I roasted them up for snackies.

The other two ended up as lunch, stuffed with bread cubes, Gruyere & Parmesan cheese, fried vegetarian Italian sausages, mustard greens, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, egg, milk.  Delicious.

We finished off Sunday evening with Dutch Oven Oscars.  While Denise and Alma tried to focus on the Academy Awards, Larry, Nick and I had a few beverages.

I prepared Black Bean and Tempe Chili Stuffed Baked Potatoes for the main course, Nick sauteed some Swiss Chard and Denise made a Caesar Salad.

For dessert, a Pear and Dried Cherry Crisp, also in Dutch Oven.

Not a bad evening with the stars, but I don't know if we all got enough to eat.


Blogger khanten said...

I should never read this when I'm hungry.

March 5, 2011 at 2:16 PM  
Blogger Garage Sailing said...

German pretzels?
Pear & dried cherry crisp?
Reading your blog is drool-inducing.
Maybe that's what Leo's up to all the time.

March 5, 2011 at 6:38 PM  
Blogger BJackie said...

OMG - I also shouldn't read this when I'm starving. Those pretzels look fricking amazing. You made more food in one weekend then I make in like a month. (I did make baguettes yesterday though... or Jacquettes, as I like to call them.)

March 6, 2011 at 7:12 AM  

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