Fall garden

What a weird-weathered growing season it’s been.  September spent itself pretending to be June, and the plants joined in accordingly.

Photos with the G2 and Pentax ST 1:2/55.  Even with mid-morning light, a tripod would have helped.

Photos 2

Recently, I went to Japan.  Then, I went to Korea, and then I went to Japan.  Finally, I went to Japan.

Here are some photos: [link to Flickr]

After my first dinner, I wrote down a list.  In retrospect, I think we were being impressed with Kaiseki-style meals.

Things I (think I) just ate

  • Unidentified tentacle
  • Unidentified tentacle, cooked
  • Sauteed squid
  • Grilled squid
  • Whelk
  • Liver of anglerfish
  • Uni
  • More Uni (I think I’m being offered more, because everyone’s enjoying my facial expressions)
  • Fin of pufferfish
  • Fin of pufferfish in sake
  • Sake

 

Chilly

Winter hangs on, in a twenty-knots-to-remind-you-that-this-pig-didn’t-build-a-brick-house kind of way. Another Sunday, another simmering afternoon.

Chili, of the both-beef-and-beans variety.

Oil to cover the bottom of the soup pot. One big onion, sliced and softened. Add a metric boatload of garlic, since the stuff from fall harvest has run out and you had to pick up the flavorless, grocery-store stuff, and beef. My kit is ill-equipped to grind, so we voxelize isotropically a medium sirloin. Add and brown. Therewhilst, toast and grind one recipesworth of Bittman’s chili powder. I left out the cayenne, favoring my dainty palate.

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Smear the spice mix into the meaty onions and stir to coat, then add the simmerings: a cup of stock, a cup of pureed tomatoes, a healthy splash of cider vinegar. Cooked lowly and slowly, perhaps an hour before adding beans (a 15 of kidneys and a 15 of cannolinis) and loadsa green bell pepper. A bit of salt. Ready when it feels ready.

Banana Bread

This morning’s first coffee attempt met limited success. 20g of fresh-ground Kenyan peaberry made it into the press, which I soaked with 200^oF water and left for a few seconds. Next, one of my offspring (I don’t remeber which one) did something that almost certainly would have incinerated our vintage colonial (I don’t remember what), and ten minutes later I added the balance of the water. Rather, a full L, having forgotten that I’d ground with the intent of a half. We’ll call it a French Press Americano, and it costs extra.

Try #2 was more conventional, 40g/L at 3:45 with a stir. Little threat of home incineration. And, it comes with oven-fresh banana bread.

In the kitchenaid:
70g butter (by weight, because I needed to carve some off of a 2-lb brick), melty
a shy cup of sugar
-beat-
brown bananas (I had 4 medium ones, fridge temp)
-mix-
3 eggs
3/8c plain yogurt
-mix-
then pile the dries atop: 1c each of AP and WW flours, 1t each of soda and powder, nutmeg, 1/2t salt
-mix to combine-
a good handful of nuts (we had Durham’s pecans on hand)

Into a buttered loaf pan (is this a 9×5?), 350 for about an hour.

To wash: mixer, butter-melting bowl, measuring spoon, nutmeg grater, spatula, preschool-aged assistant.

Beef stew

Any given Sunday in winter, a recipe that evolves a bit each time. Here’s today’s version, all cooked stovetop in a coated, 7-qt dutch oven and described mostly in the second person.

Heat the pot to a gentlemanly temperature; add a healthy pat of butter and therein render some bacon, say a fist-sized amount in 1/2″ cubes. Remove the bacon and fry a handful of frozen [*] sage leaves, adding a few cloves of garlic, not so thinly-sliced as one might for most applications, and a few medium-sized onions of a variety that really assault your tear ducts. (A stew is no place for increasingly-popular sweetish things from the produce section.). Soften it all and remove.

Meanwhile, you will have coated a couple pounds of tough-enough-for-the-216 cow meat, in 1.5″ cubes, in seasoned flour. Brown in the pot in small batches; it does not need to cook, just to shed some crispy carcinogenic bits. Add each cooked batch to the pile of steaming bacony awesomeness from scene 1. After all of the beef is through and you’re beginning to worry that your pricey cookware has been abused, deglaze with whatever you want to drink the rest of later. Today it’s a cab, though I’m workng on finding the right porter, in particular when we’re heavy on shrooms.

Add those previously-cooked to the glazey stuff in the pot. In goes liquid: 1.5c each of the wine and stock and then veg. Today, a bunch of medium spuds, six big carrots, a butternut squash, a small can of tomato sauce in lieu of having any actual toms and something else that I’ll remember when one of the boys finds in it his bowl and inquires.

Cook it all, gently bubbling, occasionally stirring, for a couple if hours, maybe more. At t-1h, throw a batch of AB’s simple barley into the oven.

[*] This might not be essential: as in happens, our sage bushes were half-buried under the snow, but the leaves were still lovely.

First harvest

A warm and early season this year. I suppose the actual first harvest was their scapes, but even these bulbs were done by the beginning of July. I think these are Armenian hardneck, our backyard’s second generation.

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That’s an iphone photo, by the way. To compensate for having no depth of field from its, what, order-of-a-millimeter focal length, I desaturated the grass in the background using Snapseed, which I like and mention here as a return of karma, since I picked it up on price-reduced-to-free day.

Run & bread

Six miles with the brunch group this morning, with our attempt at a track workout thwarted by some sort of organized sporting event at the neighborhood junior high.  (On a Sunday morning!  Someone’s not in Texas anymore.)

The morning’s toast was the (approximately) the following recipe; jams were a concord grape (a backyard fruit in these parts; ours were from a friend’s vines) and batch #2 of the apple butter (a mix of scratch & dents from Woolf).

Bread for jamming [*]

(Two smallish loaves with a yellow, slightly gooey interior and medium-crunchy, flaky crust.)

  • 6c bread flour
  • 4t yeast
  • 1 c milk
  • 1/2 c water
  • 4t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • a splash of hunny

Beat eggs, add liquids, then 2c flour, then the other non-flour solids.  Mix.  Add flour until dough.  Knead.

First rise in the fridge, overnight.  Remove, split into 2 loaves, knead, loaf.  Second rise in a warmed oven (’tis the season).  Oven on to 400F (keep the bread inside while it’s warming) and bake to 195F interior.

[*] Seeded Pandora with “The Dap Kings” for an all-instrumental-funk stream while eating

City Fresh 16 & 17

 

Plants.  The carrots are plentiful and particularly fresh-tasting.  Few designs on those fall squashes starting to pile up, given that the baby-food production line is mothballed this time around.

More plants.  Nothing particularly unusual, except for that head of cauliflower’s unusual deliciousness when roasted whole.

In related news, we also steamed up some young soy, fresh off the plant.  Tasty, healthy, and pretty cheap once the farmer defers the cost of removing the pods from the stalks to the consumer.  And, they garner a few funny glances on the return trip on market morning.

 

Breads

Perhaps this is actually a food photography blog, and no one told me.

Here, a trilogy of summer bread-baking notes.  First, corn grits make for a beautiful, stew-dipping texture.

This boule was baked in the 7-qt Le Creuset (or, rather le 7-qt creuset?), because when you have a pot like that, you use it for everything.

Second, a few method tips, in part via Ruhlman’s blog and frivolous but lovely ipad app.  First (and this from multiple sources), I now just throw the yeast into the mixer with the first run of dry ingredients.  I’m not sure why I lamented over 105-deg water and a spoonful of sugar for so long; yeast right from the freezer into the flour does just fine.  Second, and on the topic of yeast, it was on my expensive ingredients list until I learned that it comes pretty-darn-cheap in bulk.  We ordered a brick from Amazon at five bucks a pound; it lives in suspended animation in the bottom of the freezer, with a cup or so in a glass jar for easier access.  (I like Red Star yeast.  It reminds me that cooking should be communal.)

Third, a pan loaf goes into the oven when it starts to heat.  That is, no preheating – just click the oven on bake, 372F (I have digital resolution to the degree; there’s no way I’m rounding if I don’t have to) and let it go.  When the oven comes to temperature, the loaf is firm enough to score and insert the thermometer probe.

Four, thermometers.  There’s nothing predictable about how quickly my bread cooks.  I never mix in quite the same water content, nor have quite the same sized loaf.  (I like to make dough by feel, in the Tassajaran sense that experimental chemists are a more fun dinner group than theoretical chemists.)  But, if I probe it and remove the bread from heat when its interior hits 195, I end up with a fine piece of toast the next morning.

Five (and in a second homage to DA in this evening’s posts), that’s a USA Bread Pan.  Corrugated steel with a bit of silicone.  Made in Pittsburgh.  Dough goes in, bread comes out, never with a soggy bottom.  Best loaf pan I’ve used.