Feb 092014

It can’t be stressed enough to have the right tools for the job. Case in point. A seafood boil. You need a large heavy duty aluminum pot with a basket insert.
Bring the water and seasonings of choice. Leave in the insert so you don’t end up dropping the temp of the boil down too much when adding your foods. Remember, shellfish cooks very quickly so add it to the pot last. That means your whole potatoes and corn should go in the pot first.
When ready, carefully lift out the basket by the handle (I use two clean dry kitchen towels in stead of pot holders.

Nov 102012

Working on the Geek/Nerd book. It has been interesting thus far. I am not bald yet but I admit that it is not because I have not been on the verge of pulling it out. And not just mine! Any random stranger would do. Thus far I have avoided assault charges.

So far, I have managed to get some non cooks to try out a few of the recipes. This has been both rewarding and frustrating. The frustration comes in when an amateur mistakes are made. Both by me when I write the recipe (and forget a critical step) and by others that over think it rather than common sense.

Naturally I am harder on myself. Many times I have written a recipe and assumed that it was easy to figure out. How WRONG I am on that. I figure every one knows how to make a basic stock or roux. Certainly both can be purchased but why?

Next is when non cooks think they can wing it and skip steps. Um noooooo. Krab is not suitable substitute-if you have a shell fish allergy (or any other food allergy) just don’t cook it. Iodized salt is not good to cook with (IMHO, not suitable for much of anything). Trying to explain that garlic should not be purchased in a tiny box but rather from that bulk section of the market. Being specific that “Lemon Pepper Seasoning” is more salt than any lemon or pepper and a bad idea.

Educating the non cook is no easy task. Saying why certain things happen the way they do has been a thorn in my side. Sigh.

At the beginning of the book, it is explained the basic kitchen equipment but that has been questioned as in “why do I need that?” because! In the book there is no mention of a microwave. Does that say I hate them? Nope, they are great for re-heating left overs.

Here is what I have at home that I use most. A good sized counter top convection oven with a rotiss and a cast iron dutch oven. Yep. I can do pretty much anything with those two items. I can smash things with the dutch oven as well as using it as a fryer, bread oven, tandori oven, etc. I love multi-taskers.

May 072012

First things first. Make friends with the produce an meat managers. They have the ability to hook you up. Ask them if there are any bargains coming up.
Buy a whole pork loin when they are under 2.00 a pound, Cut it and portion is and into zippy bags (out of one loin, I usually get 3 3lb roasts, slice some of it thinner and pound them out for snitze, or picattas, I also can get USUALLY a 1 lb pc to make into canadian bacon.
Get whole chickens when ever possible (there are plenty of on line tutorials on how to break it down)
When getting fresh produce, blanch and shock it then portion it out and freeze it.
Same for brisket. Get one un-trimmed and do it yourself. Brisket is not only great smoked but I cut it into 1 in cubes and use some for chili. Let your imagination run wild.
Make a 1 week menu. Match up like items and cook them all at once, Chill what you are not using for the first meal.
Example: Roast a whole chicken. Have 1/2 a one for dinner-should feed 2 (on line tutorials for how to PROPERLY carve it) and you should have enough to make chicken and sausage gumbo later. Just chill it and then skin and bone it, Add the meat during the last 5 minutes of cooking to warm the meat thru.
You are going to have rice two times so go ahead and make enough for both meals at once.
Left overs. There are LOTS of things to do with them. Think soups, stews, casseroles, as potential fillings for a quiche (go ahead and buy the crusts or I go crustless myself). Use stuff in a salad for lunch or dinner. These are perfect ideas for say, you really only have a little bit of this and that.
Prep: If you know you are going to use diced onions for two-three recipes, cut em all at once. Store chopped veg in cold water in the fridge so they stay crisp.
Never waste smoke. Smoke meat and veg as you can. Chill down food, portion out and freeze. Comes in handy for rainy days.
Chefs think (they have to) well in advance and plan accordingly-including if something gets messed up( and it will).
Ever notice on cooking shows like Diners, Drive Ins they start cooking something on the stove and finish it in the oven? The reason is it frees up space on the stove and things finishing in the oven generally do take much tending. Most MOST things finish cooking at 350 for 15 minutes or less.
If you don’t own a convection oven with rotiss, you can get a counter top model for 75.00. They cook food faster and the rotiss is great. Don’t you love self basting food?