Kitchen widgetry

September 22, 2017

Kitchen widgetry: Cute little things in which to freeze stock.

Sometimes, you just get all up in your kitchen widgets.

It’s promising to be a kitchen weekend for me. There’s brine cooling for smoked trout filets later on. The Masterbilt smoker is mostly put together.  There’s bread on its second rise in the oven, and  the Instant Pot is busy with beef stew for a friend recovering from surgery. And there’s a cute new little widget, courtesy of Amazon, which I am convinced is a creation of Satan because it’s just Too Damned Easy to spend money. And Jeff Bezos is freakin’ brilliant, for what that’s worth.

Anyway, this little critter is billed as a baby food storage container. It has seven little half-cup wells, and a plastic lid that snaps on the whole thing. I figured it would be quite excellent for freezing small portions of chicken or beef broth, so when I made beef broth a while back, I used these to portion it out. Froze them, and today, I popped them out and threw them in a gallon zip-loc, using three for the beef stew (along with a bottle of Guinness).

Ain’t life grand.

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Well, hello…and a new toy

September 21, 2017

Simple and good.

Tossing my hat gently in the door…Anybody still hanging around here?

I’ve been absent. Semi-off-the-grid. Busy as hell. On the road. And dealing with a minor injury, all of which has conspired to mostly keep me out of the kitchen. I think I’ve cooked twice in the past week, and one of those, I felt puny and didn’t eat much (and it was some of my favorite stuff, too). And I have been in the throes of an insomnia cycle, which plays havoc with both my work AND my cooking, but I think I’m about at the end of that.

And I have a new toy. After wanting one for two years, I have pulled the trigger on a Masterbilt electric smoker. It arrived Tuesday, and I’ve not taken time to pull it out of the box, but Lord willing, I plan to smoke me a big ol’ chicken in it this weekend, and maybe  a piece or two of brisket at the same time. I can always freeze the brisket. Am also contemplating smoking some salmon and some tuna. We shall see. I have just ordered 50 bucks worth of assorted flavors of wood chips, so I should be ready to go.

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Yes, my eyes were bigger than my stomach. But damn, it was good.

It’s September, so it’s time to cook again.

I seriously have not been cooking much in the past month. I’ve been on the road a good bit, and when I’ve been home, I’ve been busy. It’s cooled off a bit, and I’m more in the mood to cook, and there are still plenty of nice, fresh veggies out there to cook, so it’s all good.

Went a little out of my ordinary zone for Labor Day Sunday dinner with the kids, cooking up a big pork roast into carnitas for tacos, with refried beans, Mexican rice, and street corn tomato pie on the side.

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The skinny on meat loaf

August 25, 2017

A flat meatloaf. Flat for a reason.

See this? This is a meatloaf.

This is, in fact, a meatloaf made from a pound of ground beef, patted out to fill a 10 by 10 pan, which makes it something less than a half-inch thick. It’s covered with a nice glaze of ketchup that’s been caramelized a bit on high heat in the convection oven.

It’s made that way for two reasons. One is because I love the caramelized sweet tomatoey crust, as well as the slightly crispy crust from the bottom of the pan. Two is because this makes the absolutely ideal meat loaf to then become the starring ingredient in a meat loaf sandwich, which is the primary reason for making meat loaf in the first place.

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Muffins and biscuits. More muffins in the oven at that point.

With apologies to Jane and Michael Stern, of “Road Food” fame, and damn, do I miss hearing them every Saturday morning on WKNO in Memphis now that I’m an Arkansas public radio listener, and hey, KUAR/KASU peeps, can y’all do something about putting Splendid Table on the air here so a sista can hear it?

I am headed out on a road trip tomorrow, going to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR, where I used to live, and spending a few days in that part of the world with a girlfriend and her niece and adopted niece. (I understand all about those “adopted” kinfolk, having several.) I need a break, albeit I have had a fair amount of road time lately, but this comes at a good time, as I have hit a semi-slack period at work, though it promises to pick up by the latter part of August.

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French toast, with sourdough bread from the Farmers’ Market.

It’s sure quiet in my house this morning.

For the first time in more than a week, I have no children here. Well, I do, but they’re of the grown variety, and thus are sleeping soundly. All the campers from Camp KayKay have gone home, or in any event to other grandparents’ homes. There are no toys in my living room floor.

It’s kinda lonesome.

But I have a lot to do today — two work projects which didn’t get done last week, because I was chasing tiny tornadoes hither and yon, plus figs that need to be washed, jam made from them, and canned, purple hulled peas (a half-bushel of them) that need to be shelled and stashed in the freezer. The half-bushel of peaches can wait until a little later in the week, which is also filled with lots of things I  need to do, which I hope will involve significant cooking.

Because there sure wasn’t any last week.

The above photo is one of the three times my stove was turned on last week. The other two were to boil eggs for AGC3, and to make a grilled cheese sandwich for AGC1. I did make potato skins one night after everyone had gone to bed and it occured to me I’d forgotten to eat. And while there was plenty of fast/junk food, there were also two good meals out, both Mexican in nature, at Colorado Grill in Hot Springs and at the old faithful Ark-Mex standard, Pancho’s, in West Memphis.

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bkfst pizza 0715

What was left of the breakfast pizza after four women and two kids filled up.

Got a throng in the house for breakfast? Fed people breakfast strata until you’re sick of breakfast strata? Tired of cycling batter through the waffle iron?

I give you the breakfast pizza.

This thing is just about guaranteed to please picky eaters, as long as they like sausage, eggs and cheese. (Who doesn’t? Few people I know.)

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