Category Archives: Gadgets
This was a great article, so I thought I would share:
BY NATASHA GARDNER SEPTEMBER 27, 2013 9:07 AM
Frozen food doesn’t have to mean blocks of spinach or chicken nuggets. Instead, cooks in-the-know fill their freezer with stocks, farm-fresh produce, and ready-to-eat, healthy meals. Here, tips for making your freezer your grocery store.
1. Pace yourself: Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t overbuy the first time you head to the butcher. (A family can only eat so many grass-fed steaks.) Stock up on basics over time by buying two of something at the store. Plan to roast chicken? Buy an extra bird and tuck it away. Want to grill salmon? Purchase two pounds, cook one and freeze the other. You get the idea.
2. Cook for a crowd: I grew up in a large family and have always had trouble downsizing recipes. Now, though, I greedily look at a recipe to see if I can double it (this works well for baked goods, like cookies) or make two (think: lasagna).
3. Take stock: Create a freezer inventory….
(You know the drill, click on the link and read the whole thing, there are some nice additional book recommendations at the end.)
I’m an avid freezer user – mine is stocked full of frozen veggies, meats, meals, leftover – ice cube sized – tomato paste, wine, juices. I also freeze leftover lime and lemon zests – I never waste a fresh lemon or lime peel. For more tips, head to the Meal Planning Page at the top of the blog.
From the kitteh playroom at St Francis. Somebody has to do it.This may be the last hummer of the season. We’ll keep a feeder up because birds passing through late may need a little something. I think we saw one in November last year.The last pastrami we made was so good I put another corned beef out in the electric smoker and set it for 175 degrees. It spent the night out there cooking. When I went to retrieve it for steaming I was shocked to see the thermometer stuck into the top vent reading past 300 degrees. Thermostat fail! I hoped to salvage a little and managed to save enough for a couple sammiches. The pups were not a bit disappointed as they got most of it. The manufacturer has a good customer support staff and they are sending me a new module.A bowl of ripe Anaheims. The mature red peppers are a little bit hotter than the green ones but not by much. I may dry these to see how well they work for a pepper sauce for enchiladas and such.
Shrimp fried rice with a few more of those dumplings I bought frozen at the International Grocery. I think these were chicken and veggie. They can be boiled or steamed. Pan frying works but you have to pay more attention to the process. I opted to steam these because I am lazy and a neighbor had dropped in for a chat.
The hummers are slowing down a bit from their peak. We took down 2 of the 5 feeders we had up. Those 3 were pretty busy this morning.
A neighbor came by with a loaf of beer bread for me to try, he had talked it up yesterday when we were all gathered to watch the tree eating machine clear the power line right of way.A busy day! Anyway, back to the bread. It’s a simple enough recipe: 2-3/4 cups self rising flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 stick melted butter, and 1 12oz. can of Busch beer, bake at 350 for an hour. No mention in the recipe he handed me of kneading so I’m going to go to teh Google. Ah.. no kneading, just some minor differences. You can mix in the butter or pour it over the mixture.I ate the heel with a little butter, not bad at all. The crust was chewy, it had a decent crumb. Seems like a worthwhile thing to try. About the beer… he swore that Busch was the only beer that would work, I have my doubts. He left me with a can out of his own stock just to be sure.This is a companion rig to the tree eating machine. It’s exactly what it looks like, a buzz saw on a long arm. The boom is fiberglass so it won’t fry the operator if he gets into the power lines with it. The boom telescopes in and out, it has a pretty long reach.Closing Kitteh. Mrs J says they named her Biscuit and she has been adopted out so don’t be flooding the switchboard at St Francis calling about her. Of course, there are kittehs left so, on second thought, go ahead!
This wasn’t a huge priority for me but I did want to try a few things. This one got good reviews on Amazon. A bumper crop of cayenne peppers prompted the purchase.These seemed an easy intro to food drying as they didn’t need any prep to ready them for the trays in the device. I just tried to keep them from crowding.This is the result of about 24 hours in the dehydrator at the recommended temperature setting of 135 degrees. They are still pliable, no crumbling when handled. They could be used as is in various recipes but I wanted to put them through the blender to make my own red pepper flakes.These look pretty good but the sizes of the flakes vary quite a bit. Perhaps if they were just a tad drier before the spin they would have broken down better. I suspect commercially available flakes are sieved for size before they are packaged. I will note that the usual precautions for handling hot peppers should be followed. Wash your hands and don’t rub your eyes &etc. I have some habaneros coming ready shortly, and the next picking of cayennes is not far off.
I grilled several ears of corn and decided to try the elote recipe “off the cob”. The mayo, crema, and cotija are all there along with lime juice and just a taste of Cholula hot sauce. I mixed in halved cherry tomatoes and chopped peppers. The burritos are made with flour tortillas, thin sliced flat iron steak, shredded cabbage, Monterey jack cheese, and chopped Anaheim peppers. These tacos are pork, cheddar cheese, and cabbage with my first ripe jalapeno of the season. The veggies are made into a slaw with crema and lime juice. Everything is in corn tortillas.Here’s Kitty! My camera phone makes a fair “stealth camera”, I took this by poking it around the chair back and watching the big display to center it and to check the auto focus was working before I told it to capture the shot. Bea doesn’t like being in the center of my attention when I’m looking at her through the view finder of my DSLRs. I actually had to call her name to get her to look up for this one.
The tomato garden is coming along pretty well, one plant has a problem that mystifies us, it isn’t thriving but the cause isn’t evident. We finally have a tomato that is nearly ripe, the first one aside from a plant that went into the dirt with a small green tomato already on it.I have no idea what variety this particular plant is. Next year we promise to map the site better! [Hah, fat chance of that!] The tomatillos are going crazy!This is the first time we’ve grown these and were surprised to discover that those paper shells are nearly as empty as Japanese paper lanterns. The fruits are just beginning to develop and are tiny. I’m waiting to see if the globes keep growing as the green toms fill out or if we will end up with scores of grape sized tomatillos.Here’s a selfie, with Bitsy on my chest as I recline in my chair in front of the the big screen, taken with the S4′s pretty decent camera. It has a voice command feature, say “shoot” and it will take the picture. Scared kitty just a little. She needs furminating. All the photos on this post are out of the camera in the Galaxy S4, except the quesadilla.Mrs J calls this her purple corner. In the foreground are some ornamental peppers, behind them are containers with annual flowers of some kind. Petunias and some others. In frame on the right are a few branches of the Vitex with their purplish blossoms. Bees love that thing nearly as much as they do the bee balm.You can’t see them but there are a bunch of bees on those. I have no idea what most of the containers hold, maybe Mrs J can add something in comments if you are interested. The sunflowers are volunteers, and just opened within the last few days.To keep the Blog Mistress (Long May She Rule) from rolling her eyes I will include these quesadillas These are pork, cheese, and mushroom. The pepper rings are from our own Anaheim plants in the patio veggie garden. Yay!
The new grill is getting a workout. I’m slowly learning the ins and outs of cooking on this thing. The larger items are easier because the lower temps give you plenty of time, and the indirect heat is not going to suddenly flare up and burn everything to a crisp. This style of grill has its drawbacks for smoking – biggest is the bother that arises when you need to replenish the wood chips. Good thing is that you needn’t do that very often, one refill and you will have plenty of smoke flavor. A remote temperature probe is highly recommended. They make them now that are wifi and bluetooth enabled and I am gadget freak enough that they call to me over the Amazon mind beam. This pork shoulder spent the day in there. It had a dry rub, and whole cloves of garlic inserted into slits cut into the meat.I left it to cool overnight in a foil pan and then broke it down into baggie sized lots for the freezer and fridge.The sauce is another one of those make it up as you go things that make cooking fun. I put the roast into a pan for the last few hours and added apple juice concentrate, a splash of dark soy, some black vinegar, a half cup of red wine vinegar, and a squeeze of bbq sauce from a bottle. As I was breaking the roast down this morning I reduced the remaining sauce and juices by half after adding several cloves of crushed and minced garlic. Delicious!
I haven’t done much cooking lately, or much of anything, really. I noticed this photo in the screen saver on my main computer just a few minutes ago. I have the screen saver set to “slide show” and pointed it at the folder on my NAS (network attached storage) where I keep copies of all my photos. A quick search for “sliders” found it in a set of pictures from August of 2012. I really like the Synology storage device I have, and recommend them highly.
I’m loving my new smart phone. Not so much for the phone function or texting as for the “always there” camera. The Galaxy S4 has a dandy, a 13 megapixel job with modes and features that I may never use. It has one that I definitely like – a voice command to tell it to take the picture. It recognizes several words as triggers: shoot and smile work and a few others. I took this of one of the new-ish cherry trees from atop my mower yesterday.Mrs J has taken charge of walking Katie. Kate handles the leash well, even when it’s me on the other end. Katie is recovering from her surgery – St Francis offers spaying as a part of their adoption service but this was delayed in her case by her flight and subsequent outdoor adventures.The patio container garden is doing well. The tomatoes are at that stage where they are all promise and healthy and green with scads of yellow blossoms.Most of the herbs for the kitchen are arrayed on this bench and they are growing fast. I pinched the first flower buds from the basil yesterday. Swallowtail caterpillars have invaded the curly parsley (just behind the purple basil) but have so far left the flat leaf parsley alone.We have a better selection of peppers this year: Jalapenos again, and habaneros, new this year are cayennes, Anaheims, and some small, multi-colored sweet peppers. There are a few blossoms on these but they do best in the heat of the summer.Here’s Homer from early this morning. He and Toby have a mouse cornered under the end table. I have the S4 camera set on auto everything and noticed a brief flash from the LED assist for focusing but the auto focus needs better light to do good work.This was a few moments later. I got up to see how the flash was going to work where it was really too dark to see. I don’t think the camera will ever be as good as a dedicated DSLR, but it will do much better than my Nikons when they are not to hand and this one is.
This gives me a good excuse to mention my new smartphone. It has a pretty decent camera and all the latest bells and whistles. This photo is from the S4. I was hoping Verizon would announce they would offer the HTC One last week at their expo but no such luck. I “settled” for the Galaxy S4 and I am liking it a lot. It’s my first smart phone so I can’t really compare it but it has gotten a lot of good press. Built by Samsung, the same folks who made my TV, so it has some nice features for showing photos on the big TV screen straight out of the camera via Wifi over my home network. I think the maker of the set isn’t as important as the capabilities of the set itself. There is an industry standard called DLNA that is in play here and the TV and the S4 are both compliant.