Post # 5 – Blog Update

June 11, 2012 at 2:44 PM | Posted in About Me | Comments Off on Post # 5 – Blog Update

Hello Everyone!  (I think)  A few people have asked about posting frequency and upcoming topics and making suggestions for format etc.  so I thought I’d answer in bulk.

I plan to post three times a week, on Mon-Wed-Fri.  I missed last Friday due to illness.  I will reply to questions and comments as they come in regardless of posting order.

I hope to cover all the topics that interest me in cooking, but are informative for you.  I’ve made a bunch of mistakes along the way, and most of them made me laugh.  None of them were dangerous, except possibly to me as the people I was feeding weren’t very appreciative of the mistakes.  For instance, a while back when I was living in North Carolina, I made pulled pork barbeque and had bought some local barbeque sauce.  I dumped that bottle into the pot, cooked it down a bit and served it without tasting it.  I was not aware that NC is known for its vinegar based barbeque.  No one could eat more than a couple of bites and we ended up throwing it all away.

However, that being said, I will cover basics of technique, tools, utensils, ingredients, meal planning, food preservation, healthy eating, and dollar stretching.  I don’t have any set order for these so if there’s something you’d like to know about immediately, let me know.  If I have any experience in it, I’ll be happy to share.

One other thing that I plan to do sporadically is post stories I’ll be writing about my food experiences and where they took me.  I’ll post those on the weekends on the Pages menu to the right so watch for those.  I think the first one will be ready by the end of June or the first part of July.

Enjoy!

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Post # 4 – The Right Stuff

June 11, 2012 at 12:59 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 4 – The Right Stuff

Years ago, when microwave ovens first arrived in the home market, my brother and sister and I pitched in and bought Mom one for Mother’s Day.  We also bought a stand with wheels, and a full set of microwave-safe pans.  I called it The Deisel because it was big and loud.  In those days, they weren’t programmable, and they were on par with shelling peanuts with a sledge hammer.  No finesse at all.  No one had any real experience with them, but it came with a large cookbook and instruction manual.  We set it all up and Mom immediately sat down to read all the things she could make in under two minutes.

She tried bread.  She bought a loaf of frozen dough which she had done many times before.  The concept of these frozen loaves was simple.  The bread was mixed and kneaded, then frozen just before the final rise.  You took the bread out of the package while frozen, spread it with a little oil, and put it in a bread pan.  Then you could either leave it in the fridge or set it out on the table covered.  While it thawed, the yeast activated and the bread rose.   Once it had completely risen, you baked it and had a great loaf of freshly baked bread with very little effort.  We loved those things and had them all the time.

Microwaves don’t bake bread very well.  Mom put it in the microwave when it had thawed and risen, and after a while, the smell of fresh baked bread wafted through the house.  The microwave dinged, Mom jumped up and pulled the bread out.  Microwaves don’t brown, so the bread looked kind of pasty, but we expected that.  She set the pan on the cooling rack and left it alone for a half-hour.  It turned into a brick.  We couldn’t get it out of the pan and bent the tip of a butcher knife trying to.  Once it finally came loose, it fell on the floor and dented it.  None of my dads tools had any impact in cutting a slice out of it.  Soaking for a week in a bucket of water was ineffective.  After a couple of weeks, even our pack of dogs only managed to just barely scratch the surface.  I finally buried it.

My point is that it takes the right tool to make the right stuff.  Today, my partner and I bake about 85% of the bread we eat.  The only breads we buy are made from the types of flour we don’t keep on hand, such as rye, pumpernickel, etc.  At least twice a week, I make sandwich rolls (pic 1) in varying sizes.  The recipe is easy and the primary tool is the bread machine set to its dough setting.  The recipe is on the right.  Sometimes, I make full loaves in the bread machine.  When I do that, I make the other types of bread we like, such as sour dough, potato bread, etc.  Several times a month, we make biscuits simply by mixing the dough up by hand in a big bowl with a big wooden spoon.  We make french bread loaves (pic 2), big and small, with our stand mixer doing most of the work for us.  We use those to make garlic bread for italian meals, and for crostini when we want appetizers.  And just to eat plain like I did last night.  I also make flour and corn tortillas to have on hand for when we want a quick mexican dish.  We also make soft pretzls and bagels.  It’s all in how you treat the ingredients and using the right tools.

Enjoy!

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