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Category Archives: Gadgets

B.E.L.T. Tacos

B is for bacon but this one is sous vide pork belly, sliced about a quarter inch and crisped a bit.  SVPBLET just doesn’t roll off the tongue quite right.I really like this taco rack.  I bought it thinking to use it to oven crisp store bought tortillas but it’s perfect for holding these home made tortillas for dressing.  My perfect BELT would have the egg yolk still runny, this time I scrambled and chopped a couple of eggs to make them easy to build with.The sauce is half mayo/half sour cream and that seems to work pretty well, it is spread on the tortilla about like you would spread mayo on toast for a traditional BLT sammich.Enjoy!

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The Phone Is Dead! Long Live The Phone!

The phone is dead, not enough left to bury.  Through an extraordinary lapse of common sense I managed to run over my Galaxy S6 with the mower when it slid off my leg where I laid it for just a second, trying to maneuver the mower to where I could snap a photo of a snapping turtle.  Sigh.  It was like losing a friend.I dragged Mrs J off to the phone store, grass clippings still in my hair.  A nice young man helped me into a new Galaxy S8, which is the new hotness.  I was in the phone store last week, intending to buy this same phone because they had, I thought, a deal on a phone/tablet bundle.  Oh, no, sir!  That deal was soo last month!

Anyway, I’m still dealing with the quirks and the odd bits of setup that I had forgotten about and had to learn, again, how to do.  The camera is reputed to be very good.

InstaStock

Just a reminder for those with an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker – you can make a nice stock out of those chicken bones you are saving.I set it for an hour and that seems sufficient.  The Food Lab has much more!

Gadget Post – Tortilla Press

I finally pulled the trigger on one of these things, a brief look at Amazon led me to this one.  Great reviews, cast iron, etc.  I went though three or four batches of masa dough before finally getting everything to work right for me.  First batch was impossible to get out of the plastic that everyone recommended be used to make it easy – I cut circles out of a freezer weight ziplock bag. At least it was easy to scrape the failed tortilla off them.I Googled “wah!  the tortilla will not release” and discovered that you need to cover the dough ball for 30 minutes or more.  So I made another batch and rested the dough ball, covered, for 30 minutes.  Not a bit better!  Hmm… let me check the use by date on my masa flour – “best if used by 4/15”.  OK, time for a new bag!  Mumble mumble, toil and trouble!  OK, new bag of flour.  Not much of an improvement.  I have been following the recipe on the bag:  1 cup water for every cup of masa but I vaguely recall watching one of the TV shows and seeing oil or some other fat added to the mix.  Another search confirms that, I quickly found a recipe that calls for 1 tablespoon of oil or lard per cup of flour.Success!  I can, finally, peel the plastic from the tortilla.  They are fragile in this uncooked state and it takes a bit of practice to flop the tortilla onto the hot (500 degrees) cast iron. This is my best one so far, no wrinkles or folds and I managed to flip it without tearing.  Yay!

We might have tacos and enchiladas later – stay tuned!

Pork Belly with Pickled Mustard Greens

Most days we watch cooking shows while having lunch or dinner.  I DVR shows so I can skip the commercials during playback.  This dish caught my eye so I grabbed a notepad to scribble down the ingredients:

  • pork belly
  • brown sugar
  • mushroom soy sauce
  • black bean sauce
  • oyster sauce
  • sliced ginger root
  • chopped green onions
  • chopped white onion
  • minced garlic
  • fermented black beans
  • sesame oil
  • pickled mustard greens

There will be no measurements.  I used about 1-1/2 pounds of pork belly cut into one inch cubes and pretty much eye-balled the rest of it,  I started the video from the top and added the ingredients in the same order as the TV chef, a Jamaican with Chinese ancestry.  His answers, when prompted for amounts by the host, were either “this much” or “that much there”.

The chef was asked how long will this simmer on your stove-top, but I couldn’t make out his reply.  I think he said “till it’s done”.I was going to be making it in the Instapot pressure cooker so I set it for an hour.

The mustard green were added after the pork belly had cooked down.These came from the International Grocery, a store in a nearby college town.  I was pretty sure they would have them, but I looked in the canned veggie section to no avail.  I asked for help.  The store clerk went right to them, they are in sealed plastic bags, he mentioned that they were very sour and needed a good soaking with changes of water so I started the soak the first thing. I also picked up the mushroom soy sauce and the black bean ingredients while there.  Handy store!Chop the greens and add them to the pot after it cools down enough to open.  I also thickened this the same way as the chef – a slurry of corn starch.  When I make this again I will back off on the on the added water.

The TV show was “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the food network.  The info for the episode said it was from season 4, episode 6, first aired 09/05/08.  Alas, a search of the Food Network’s web page didn’t yield agreement, it says the the episode “A Taste of Everywhere” was from season 4, episode 7.  Clicking on that episode link was no help in finding the recipe.

A  Google search for recipes turned up numerous variations, most of them mentioned par-boiling the pork belly.  There wasn’t any mention of that on the show but it may have been edited out.  I went ahead and did it before cubing the belly:

Next time I’ll cube it first and boil it a little longer, that should reduce the fat a little in the end result.

Say Hello To My New Little Pans

These are 1/6th sized hotel pans and they are approx. 2-1/2 inches deep x 5-1/2 inches x 6 inches.  Also called steam table pans because they are what you will see food served in when at a buffet.I’m using a sheet of puff pastry cut into quarters for crusts on these individual sized chicken pot pies.  Each sheet was brushed both sides with an egg wash.  Doing the undersides is a trick Alton Brown touts to help keep the pastry crusts from picking up too much liquid and staying doughy.Bake in a 400 degree oven until the crust brown to suit.  I looked at these after 12 minutes, turned them 180, and gave them 8 more minutes or so.The butter trick worked well enough.  Next time I may do these like I did the pan biscuits, cook the crusts by themselves and place them on the filling later.  Speaking of pan biscuit crusts, I had some extra filling so I made a small batch of that and did one more pot pie:The small batch of dough was:  1/2 cup flour, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/3 cup of buttermilk, and 1 Tbsp of melted butter.  Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl and stir in the buttermilk to just combine and pour the loose dough into a small pan over the melted butter.  Press flat and bake in a 450 oven.  My little biscuit didn’t take long, maybe 20 minutes.

Gadget Post – Small Bowl Food Processor

20170213_134314-1600x1200I broke down and bought a small-ish food processor, this one is a Cuisinart.  It had good reviews from America’s Test Kitchen.  It’s handy, light, easy to store and use.  The 2 buttons are marked chop and grind, one makes the blade rotate clockwise, and the other the opposite.  The cover is a bit stiff both locking and unlocking so you have to hold tight with the other hand.  It may loosen up with use.

Tidbits

dsc03914-1600x1200Here’s Blossom, a shelter kitteh that Mrs J says is 2 years old.  She came in last week.20170210_122332-1600x1200A bit over exposed, here is a pile of crumbly pastrami on a bun with just a dab of mustard.  It shares the plate with coleslaw and a dill pickle spear.20170205_115909-1600x1200I usually make these beans with a smoked hock but I had quite a bit of that pork belly porchetta  to eat up so I used some of that instead.  I sliced it to about a half inch and browned the slices in a frying pan before chopping and adding it to the beans as they simmered.20170203_165901-1600x1200Mmm… sloppy joe sammich pr0n.  That’s the last of my homemade giardiniera.20170210_152032-1600x1200We got more pods and k-cups in from an Amazon order.  The Fog Chaser pods came sealed in plastic bags of 10 pieces each (iirc) because of their open construction.  They work just like the k-cups, using the same adapter.  We will store the remaining pods from the opened bag in zip-locks.  The Caza Trail Kona blend cups are the standard sealed items.  Both the blends are quite good and are priced nearly the same.  If I have to choose one blend out of all we have tried so far I would give the nod to the Caza Trail Kona because it tastes great and is relatively cheap.  Fog Chaser is a strong second.dsc_5594-1600x1200Mrs J stops by the nose cleaning station where Ollie is on shift.  He has moved smoothly into the regular rotation.

Coffee Maker Update

20170209_134425-1600x1200We’ve had this thing long enough now to be able to give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.  The k-cups are the go-to for a quick cup but we’ve had success with the adapters, shown in the foreground, using our own grounds.  They even make little-bitty filters for them that are optional.  They do cut down on the cup sediments.

I did some looking on line for the cheapest k-cups and ended up running to Best Buy where they had some pretty cheap.  Green Mountain Dark Magic is a dark roast that we like, and they had a good tasting Donut Shop blend that was also on sale at the time.  Since our visit they’ve bumped up the price on both.  I’ve ordered a couple of different blends from Amazon that are very popular:  A Kona blend and one from San Francisco Coffee called Fog Chaser.

 

Gadget Post – Bunn MCU My Cafe

20170202_113447-1600x1200I’ve been threatening to buy one of these single cup brewers for ages.  This model gets good reviews and I like the Bunn name and the fact that they are headquartered in my state.  Mine came this morning and we promptly set it to working.  Our first cup was with the adapter for using our own grounds and it worked well – turning out a good cuppa.  The next mug was made with one of the pre-loaded coffee cups and it was very good, too.  The cups are universally known as k-cups, much to the distress of the Keurig folks, I’m sure.

So far, so good!  There isn’t any denying that the k-cups are easier and quicker to deal with.  Using our own we had to dig the used grounds out of the tray and then rinse it in the sink.  It comes with four “trays” – that’s what they call the adapters for the pods, cups, loose grounds, and the one meant for nothing more that hot water for oatmeal or whatever.  Pods are like tea bags, the product is enclosed in its own filter.  I suspect most of the pods sold are, indeed, meant for tea.

Also available are reusable k-cups, meant for your own coffee grounds and designed to fit into the k-cup tray.  I’ve ordered a couple of those just to see if they make cleanup a little easier.