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Owly

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Owly last won the day on October 11 2019

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  1. A few years back I perfected the apple pie to the point where people lick their plates, and pies vanish before your astonished eyes..............The trick is extremely simple. Make the pie normally in every way but one. Take half a can of frozen concentrate apple juice / cider........ full strength, add a cup of sugar and reduce it in a pan as if you were making candy.......I put a generous shake of cayenne in for a bit of spicy bite... like applesauce with red hots..... I haven't had a candy thermometer for years... since I broke the last one. It is a very scary process, as you are making napalm.... It is so hot and sticky that it will stick to your skin and take it right off if you get it on yourself. But candy makers know all about this. This is cooked down to the point where if it were allowed to cool it would be almost hard.... it would still have give, rather than breaking......... I can't give temps because I've never measured them, but I suspect they are approaching 270F when I take it off the heat. This is poured over the apples in the pie shell, the upper crust added and the works baked.....The reason it must be cooked down is that the apples yield their own juice, and it would be runny otherwise...... Believe me the apple flavor is so intense that people cannot leave it alone. This evening I did an apple crunch this way, but used a full can of concentrate.... A bit overboard delicious. This was a generic oatmeal crunch.... C flour C brown sugar C oatmeal, 1/2C melted butter. I used 7 small Granny Smith apples in a 10x7 pyrex rectangular pan. The result is rich, sticky and extremely tangy and flavorful with just a bit of a hot bite. H.W.
  2. Being single, I inevitably have to make larger portions than I want at one time. I have a source that supplies me with racks of beef prime ribs. I usually smoke cook them in the kamado after sous vide, putting them in the kamado frozen. The idea is to get a good smoke crust without continuing the cooking internally. Done correctly I end up with most of the meat medium rare or therabouts. These ribs are trimmed from prime rib by a caterer friend.... he saves money by buying ribs in. I end up reheating, and have tried various methods. Today I found the answer finally..... I bought a Emerill Legasse version of the Instant Pot last week that incorporates sous vide and air fry. I was looking to reduce my appliance load and this serves very well, though I'm not at all happy with the lack of information about what's going on. No actual temp read out, just your setting, which I find very frustrating.... I can't glance at it and see how close my temp is to what I want. Only one pressure setting (13 psi)... and of course no read out of that either. The presets are as expected basically garbage to make it look pretty. The timer makes little noise, and the machine goes to keep warm mode and the numbers on the timer begin going the other way which is confusing unless you noticed the keep warm light..........But I've never had an appliance that worked the way I wanted it to. I use a pressure cooker all the time, I use sous vide all the time, and I frequently use air fry. So this reduces the number of appliances and sits there all the time so I don't have to drag out what I want. Steam works nicely for various things such as cooking asparagus, and is perfect for reheating ribs......... They stay moist, and it's easy to control..... At $130, it was a lot of features for a small price, and I feel I can safely walk away from a pressure cooker.......... I never dared do that before! Lack of information is my big beef... but I stick my home brewing thermometer through a vent hole and monitor temp. and the low pressure, which throws me off a surprising amount, but I can deal with that........... The sous vide function sucks..........It takes forever to bring the water up to temp, and the temp increments are not as small as they should be..... an afterthought... it isn't have the device my Annova is, but I paid about the same for the Annova back when I bought it! The air fry does a superb job. H.W.
  3. I've not been as successful as I'd hoped, and I moved on to other projects. Your statement about pictures is what is known as "California Rules"..... "If it isn't on film, it didn't happen"............. H.W.
  4. I'm constantly frustrated by trying to keep bagged salad greens from going off. I've tried various strategies, and none I've found really stretches the life as long as I need..... Being single, I buy mixed greens, the only practical solution for me. Unfortunately a good percentage of the time, there is enough moisture that the greens are ready go melt in a few days. The other day I looked for some arugula, and the only packages I found were not fresh enough, and the grocery store is 50 miles away... the nearer one 20 miles has only garbage most of the time... and overpriced at that. I purchased a large Foodsaver box a few months back... about a $20 item, figuring that if I can dry refrigeration systems using vacuum, why not salad.......... I'm here to tell you it doesn't work, though it is a small improvement. The next step is a dessicant. I have a sort of plastic trivet that fits into it that came from a Rubbermaid container that was designed to keep salad fresh.... which of course didn't work for me either. This rectangular trivet keeps the salad greens elevated off the bottom. At the moment I have some rock salt in the oven, which I will bake for half an hour or so at 350 to drive any moisture off. Once cooled, it is going into the Foodsaver container beneath the trivet, the salad will go on top of the trivet, and the lid will be installed and I will draw the container down to about 30 inches of vacuum using my vacuum pump. It's designed to be pumped down using a food saver hose, so I was a bit nervous about using high vacuum the first time, but it stands it quite well. I'd be interested in thoughts on this........ I've tried about every tip imaginable....... I'm hoping this will extend the life. I'm increasingly growing my salad greens at home indoors, but at the moment I have a lot of things starting over . I have plenty of lettuce and kale, and my arugula is almost ready to begin harvesting, my "perpetual spinach".... a variety of Swiss chard has a few weeks to go. My indoor grow chamber isn't really as large as I would like, and I have a bunch of dwarf tomato starts going. I'll be moving them to another chamber shortly, and getting more arugula going. My dwarfs are dwarf plants, not dwarf fruits naturally....... though I selected cherry tomatoes as I like them best. Being determinant, the will grow to fruition and produce once.... otherwise they would not be dwarf plants. I haven't tried this before. Everything is hydroponic, and under grow lights. I will post a reply at some point just to confirm or not, the success of this project......... H.W.
  5. Awhile back my neighbor's wife gave me a can of "coffee beer" or some such thing..... No resemblance to beer, it was just alcoholic creamed coffee, and asked me if I could "brew" that. I laughed after tasting it, and explained that there was no "brewing" involved except brewing coffee. The cream and alcohol were added later. It was a "compounded" drink, not a brewed one. Not so long ago I made an attach bracket to put a stout faucet on one of my wonderful little 1.75 gallon corny kegs from Williams Brewing. I use these in the fridge, as they will fit on the top shelf where "normal" folks keep milk... with party taps on short hoses. It was an interesting project, and I made a bracket that bolts to one handle, and under the beer out fitting quick coupler, which I had to machine off to make room and still seal to the keg. Instead of a vertical handle, I fabricated a horizontal handle so it would fit in the fridge. The nozzle is just high enough for a pint glass.... if you tilt it a bit. This was for nitro covfefe.... as I call it..... sometimes morons come up with expressions worth using by accident! I simply made a gallon and a half of cold brew decaf (the only coffee I will drink), added cream, and chocolate syrup, and everclear to make it an 6% brew. Charged it with CO2 briefly and put in 60 psi of nitrogen. Turned out to be a well loved "brew", however the cream tended to curdle a bit....... Not a real problem. A bit of reading revealed that increasing the PH (lower acidity) would alleviate this issue, so the second batch got baking soda added until I liked the PH.... about 2 teaspoons........ Problem solved. I now have a keg of "Kick ### Mocha" on tap in the fridge........ at home. They drank the first keg I cranked the second keg up to 8% because you could not detect the alcohol in the first.... this one leaves no doubt about what it is. It doesn't "sneak up on you" Disclaimer: I'm a brewer from way back.......... In the mid 60's when I was not even in my teens yet, I was brewing applejack, and hard rootbeer, right under my parent's noses. I've brewed beer and wine and distilled spirits ever since, my first still when I was 15 years old, my second had thermostatic controls and temp gauges, etc. I've brewed hundreds of beers and wines since that time. H.W.
  6. I tried a rather radical experiment yesterday....... and it was a success (mostly). I made up a small batch of yeast dough dinner rolls, placing each one in a 1/2 pint wide mouth jar. I used my LEM food dehydrator as a proofer...... The broad range of temps makes it a real asset for this sort of thing. The lowest market temp is 90F... and it goes lower, though I have no idea why you would use temp much lower than that. The highest being 150F......One of these days I will get one of the high tech convection oven combos that serve as a dehydrator, a convection oven and an air fryer. The rolls were proofed and ended up being perfect size in the well greased jars. They then went into the sous vide water bath at 195, which is the target internal temp for bread baking according to my reading on the subject, and were cooked 3 hrs. They came out beautifully, with a nicely rounded top, and nice shape from the jar walls, but of course were not browned. I tipped them out of the jars, with a little help from a knife along the edge, and put them in an air fryer a neighbor recently gave me as they didn't use it anymore. 400F for about 10 min. They came out beautiful, perfectly cooked, crispy crust, and tender and airy in the middle. I'm not "advocating" this method due to the long cooking time, however there is the great benefit of not being time critical.... 3 hrs, 4, 5.... I doubt that it would matter. That means that you could put them in the sous vide around noon, and have fresh hot rolls at dinner..... whenever that is. They aren't going to dry out, and all you need at dinner time is a hot oven for browning them. I plan to experiment further.........using long cooking times, even over night..... the ingredients are cheap. I also am thinking of doing it in a wide mouth quart jar laid down on it's side for a sort of poor boy or hoagie bun. The one problem I had was that two of the jars took on some water, ruining the contents. The lesson from this is to make sure the lids are fairly tight. They need to be able to vent, but not take on water. H.W.
  7. Owly

    Power Breakfast

    I've taken this a bit further, these days I'm embedding chunks of this and that.... pieces of Wallawalla sweet onions, pieces of cheddar cheese... and other varieties, pieces of bacon, sausage, ham..... Whatever strikes my fancy. I have a weakness for hollandaise sauce, but it's also good with other things such as ordinary salsa or pico de gallo, or a spicy cheese sauce. I also sometimes tip the souffle out of the jars, sprinkle it with grated cheese and put it under the broiler. I get my best results sous vide, at 180 for an hour, it's tender and filled with air, and doesn't fall like an oven baked souffle can do. I typically split it between two jars.... to give it room to rise.... about half full. The real beauty of this is that I can process salad greens before they go off, which means I can buy the discounted greens at the grocery store that have little shelf life left. I put them in small containers.... about 4oz after running them in the blender with other stuff such as onion, garlic, and Jalapeno, and straining the water off, and freeze the works, blending it with the eggs and a bit of flour, soda, salt,, and grated cheese when ready to use it. For a single guy like me living far from the nearest grocery store it means I can buy salad greens in quantity, enjoy them in salads while they are fresh, and when they are about to "go off", process and freeze the remainder.... An excellent economy when the grocery store is 50 miles away.
  8. Apple cider vinegar is all the rage these days............ Personally I find it boring. Braggs for example has the single advantage of having a live culture.... though I'm not so sure acetobacter can be classed as a probiotic. However an apple cider vinegar can be made using kombucha as a starter, which will have a broad array of microbes in it, and due to the gluconobacter, it has a distinctly more complex flavor. This presents some challenges, as alcohol is a preservative, and ultimately will kill most of the other microbes. My approach has been to ferment for a few days using wine yeast, then innoculate using live culture kombucha. This will not yield the high acidity of a typical actobacter only fermentation, because the yeast will be suppressed, so the alcohol content will not reach the ideal level for the acetobacter to convert. However you will have significant gluconic and glucoronic acids, which are not as "sharp" as acetic acid which is the normal acid in vinegar. The result is a much more complex and interesting flavor. Gluconobacter ferments sugars directly, where acetobacter likes alcohol. I've done both conventional vinegar from various things such as wine and beer, and fermented concoctions specifically for vinegar. Beer for example makes a rather interesting and nice vinegar, and I've soured many gallons of it from a local micro brewery using Braggs for a starter, so that they could use it as a condiment. We simply took "expired" kegs and made vinegar from them. Making vinegar is not for folks who like instant gratification..... it takes months, often the longer the better, and when using kombucha as the starter, I like to allow about 6 or more months in a warm dark place. I currently have a "crop" of pomegranate blueberry vinegar at the finished stage. I made it from a frozen concentrate, pitched some wine yeast, and after a bit added kombucha to sour it. I later (months) added a calculated amount of everclear to equate to give the acetobacter something more to feed on. The result is an interesting and flavorful, very unique vinegar. Don't be afraid to experiment.......... save the unfinished glasses or bottles of wine, beer, whiskey in a container, pitch some braggs, and remember that you want about 8% alcohol, so dilute if needed before adding. Keep it in a warm dark place........ sanitation is really not an issue, the acetobacter and acetic acid will kill everything. I've been playing with microbes including acetobacter, yeast, lactobacillus, and other not so benign critters since childhood (he '60's)...... probably the reason I have such a robust immune system! Currently I'm building about the fifth still I've had over the years.... this one is for essential oils........ or so I'm claiming
  9. Yesterday evening I cooked half of one fillet of fresh cut lovely salmon colored flesh trout a friend caught ice fishing the other day......... he gave me one fish and it will make 4 meals for me!! I lit the kamodo, and let it heat up, prepared the meat with a simple salt and pepper rub, and melted some butter and incorporated garlic and spices and lemon juice, which I bathed it in and later mopped on with a brush in the barbecue. Very very simple. I took some apple twigs from a pile a friend gave me, and put them on the coals, put the fish on the grill at around 300F in the smoke, brushing the butter mixture on and turning it a few times. Normally I cook fish minimally......... just until tender, but I left this on just a bit longer for the smoke, but not enough to begin to dry out. I wanted a subtle hint of smoke, and the apple was a good choice, but I prefer my native willow for fish. I'll collect some today, and do another tonight. As a single, the 10" grill mini kamodo is a blessing, but at temps down well below freezing, I often am hesitant to light it for such a small job. They really are best for more substantial stuff..... economy of scale.
  10. Owly

    Power Breakfast

    Note that I "pioneered" doing this using Sous Vide and half pint jars today.......... 176F for 45min......... but they wouldn't need nearly that time........ I was very happy with the result, very tender, and done to perfection. Far and away the best method I've tried yet. The beauty of this is that it could be done ahead and just warmed to temp in the jar. It is also far more controllable than the microwave, or the oven, or airfryer, and vastly superior to skillet cooking. I'm just starting a 4 day fast (after breakfast today), and I've set several of these in the fridge for "break fast" (Monday around 10:00). Next time , I will incorporate precooked bacon or sausage, and perhaps some chunks of mushroom.
  11. Floating jars in sous vide is a nuisance. Unlike using vac bags, there is often air space, and with some of the things I do, considerable air space. Unless you use tall jars, with the product in the bottom, they have a tendency to flip on their sides. My favorite jars are half pint wide mouth canning jars. This morning I was experimenting with my power green breakfast souffle benedict sous vide, and because it rises quite a bit, I have to limit to just above half full. These jars are not stable at this fill level, and I cannot reduce the water level in the pot I use enough to make them stable without starving the Annova. I finally got pissed off enough that I went out and made a rack to set the jars on so I could submerge them to just under the ring. My pot is a stockpot that I insulated with foam years ago, it also sits on foam, and has a custom aluminum lid I built with a cutout for the Annova, with a piece of foam and another aluminum disc on top that holds the foam from curling. It works very well, and I have no evaporation to speak of. This rack is simply a piece of aluminum I cut out with my plasma cutter, and perforated with numerous holes using a hole saw so the water can circulate freely. Beneath it are 3 pieces of 1.5" steel pipe about 3" long, joined by pieces of flat strap welded to them to keep them in an ideal triangle shape to support the rack.... it works perfectly for what I need, providing me with enough additional depth to submerge the Annova sufficiently without floating the jars. The power greens breakfast souffle was something I wanted to make ahead, as my bag of Costco Power Greens was on the verge of "going off". I use it in salads and such, and the problem of course is that mixed bagged greens tend to go off faster than I can consume them. By cooking them like this as they approach end of life, I can save the souffles in the fridge for as much as a week, warm them, and use them later. The canning jar / sous vide method seems to work very well.... About 45 min at 176, and they are well set, yet tender, and show no desire to fall. The half pint wide mouth jars taper all the way, so they turn out nicely, and I suspect they could even be frozen........... warming them without the jar might be an interesting challenge. These are tender and airy, not tough and chewy like so many egg products, loaded with nutrition unlike the things people buy from what I call the "garbage isle" in the grocery store. There is no reason not to include whatever takes your fancy in them. H.W.
  12. I've never been a fan of so called "breakfast foods". I live a very active life, so breakfast is important to me, but I consider most things people eat for breakfast little better than garbage! I have several "power breakfasts" I regularly eat, but my current favorite is a sort of green souffle benedict. Fast and simple. A hand full of "power greens", some chopped onion and fresh garlic, some grated cheese, a few cherry tomatoes, one egg and one egg white......... the yoke separated for the sauce, about 2 tsp flour, some salt and about 1/4 t of soda, all go in a single serve blender cup, and are pretty much liqufied. The works goes into a ramkin that has been greased and floured, and is cooked in the microwave on power3 for about 15 min..... or until firm on top. While this is going, I have a couple links cooking, and I mix about a T of olive oil or melted butter with with about a t of flour, a pinch of salt and cayenne, and a generous splash of cream or milk, and the egg yoke, which is cooked in a double boiler stirring constantly with a spatula.......... It doesn't take but a couple of minutes if you crank things up. When It thickens, I throw in about 1T of lemon juice, and stir until it reaches the consistency I want, then kill the heat and lift the pot out of the boiler.... Once the temp drops, I put it back in to keep it warm. This is my pseudo hollandaise sauce. The souffle is removed from the ramkin, and served with the sausages and sauce for a satisfying and nutritious breakfast. The result is light and filled with air, not tough and rubbery if done correctly. It rises a bit, but not much, but I've never had one "fall". The key here seems to be the microwave. I've tried pan fried and baked versions, and the results have not been nearly as satisfying or successful. I'm tempted to try the sous vide, and probably will, but that will involve at least an hour of cooking, and would have to be done in a pair of those great wide mouth half pint jars greased and floured for release
  13. I did the taste test on this experiment last week......... actually 5 months rather than the original 3 month target. All 3 steaks looked good, no sign of spoilage whatsoever I opened 2 of them. They were of course the perfect medium rare color, there was no olyfactory or any other sign of ANY spoilage. In the taste test, they came out just OK, and this iteration of the test was a failure in that respect only. They were perfectly preserved, and completely edible, but in no way resembled a nice freshly cooked piece of meat. In conclusion, the preservation process works as far as safety. The incubation periods were an innovation of value in terms of cutting down the amount of time needed to ensure that spoilage was not occurring. The long sous vide cooking period, in combination with natural chemical / non-biological breakdown resulted in a less pleasing result in terms of flavor. The preservation time is non-optional, as that is the purpose, but the breakdown that occurs during this period mirrors what happens in long sous vide cooking, so the result is closer to what one would have if you cooked it for a week at 130F. As with my first experiment laying the groundwork for the second (this one), the second experiment has laid the groundwork for the next one. The primary innovations between experiment one and two were the use of a deep fryer to kill surface microbes, down into cracks in the meat (very successful). This was a very brief treatment..... and the incubation periods, derived from the work of microbiologists looking to incubate pathogens, in particular botulinum. The above mentioned two items will be included in a third experiment that I will begin when I get a "roundtuit".... (I occasionally find one of those floating about). The third change will be to reduce sous vide to 1.5 hours at 130, relying on natural biochemical processes to tenderize. Given the long storage period, I see little or no benefit in 48 hr sous vide. All and all the experiment was a success. It achieved my objectives more or less, and unlike the first try there were no losses. It was a learning experience that laid the groundwork for further progress. H.W.
  14. I've been playing with eggs lately. The goal is to get the perfect boiled egg with a firm white and a soft custard yoke. The challenge is that the white cooks at a higher temp than the yoke so to get the desired result you have to precook the white at high heat, then shock chill and sous vide around 145-147........ I haven't quite nailed it yet. The problem here is the elevation.... like trying to cook a medium rare steak on a grill that isn't hot enough. I think I now have the answer in an air fryer a neighbor gave me because they just don't use it....... All the rage, appliance of the year, everybody has to have one, and they end up in Salvation Army stores because people just don't use them, or they don't live up to the hype. I set out to see what the damn thing was actually good for, and if it was worth the space. It does a superb job of "boiling" eggs....... or more accurately baking them in the shell. I do not have to worry about correcting for elevation, as water is not involved. The challenge is to find the perfect temp and time for a runny soft boiled egg, then to find the ideal sous vide temp and time.... yes time DOES make a difference with eggs. I've played with 270, for about 10 min.... Less doesn't set the white, but 10 min takes the yoke further than what I want..... The other problem is the radiant heat.... I need to devise a way to block direct radiant heat so it's just heated air so I won't have to roll them to avoid browning the white..... steaming at a specific temp would be best for this.... An interesting challenge for cold winter evenings............. H.W.
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