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Everything posted by Owly

  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. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. I never figured out any real use for remote control???
  14. Owly

    Feta Cheese

    I've been making my own Feta cheese since Costco saw fit (locally) to discontinue the blocks, and offers only the crumbles several years ago. I'm learning to hate Costco... which I've been a member of for years. Anything I buy regularly.... good quality reliable products, the discontinue. I swear there is a little pinched face accountant looking guy in green eyeshades who follows me around with a clipboard, and notes what I buy so they can put it on the kill list. Field and Stream flannel shirts, Feta cheese, Kirkland Signature 5 pocket jeans, R 134A refrigerant, high quality nut and dried fruit trail mix (brand?), and now the final kick in the nuts Kirkland Decaf coffee....... an insult to those of us who drink decaf! We are a "sub species" that doesn't deserve decent quality coffee.... And there are many other examples I can't think of at the moment. Walmart (yes, I do stoop to buying a few items there).... does the same thing to me. Feta is about the easiest of cheeses to make, and home made is superior to store bought. New England Cheese Supply is the best source for recipes, and ingredients, though I do not buy their expensive cultures anymore, but rather use Kefir for a starter. I buy rennet on line...... preferring real calf rennet to veggie or vegan rennet........ There is a special place in hell for vegans!...., and I buy calcium chloride to compensate for processed milk. I do have a small stock of things to enhance the flavor.... flora danica & lipase. The first to give it a creamier flavor, and the second to give it a "goaty" flavor as with goat's milk.......... I absolutely refuse to own milk, or in any way deal with goats.... Been there, done that!! What I really want is a circulator for warming the milk. I've tried my Annova, and the result was burned milk on the element....... Patience is probably the order of the day here....... just put it on a seedling mat and wrap it in a towel........ I'm "locked down" today and yesterday..... temps have not risen above -1 for two days, so I'm doing indoor projects...... just ran off a gallon of 100 proof gin from 5 gallon sugar wash, so my fermentation chamber is available to get the temps I want for hanging the feta, so I'm making a gallon of milk into feta today. It's dirt simple.. heat to 90F, add kefir, and calcium chloride, let "ripen" for an hour, add one quarter tab of rennet, dissolved in 1/4 c water stirred gently. Then leave for an hour to thicken, and cut the curds, stirring gently at 5 minute intervals until they reach poached egg consistency... 30 to 60 min. Then pour the whey off, and ladle into a colander with cheese muslin, allowing to drain further, sprinkle 2T salt (cheese or pickling salt), allowing it to draw more of the whey off. You can use a form and press at this time...... but I just hang it and let it drain in a warm place (my fermentation chamber). Once firm and well drained. I then slice and salt it on the surfaces and leave it for several days at room temp before putting it in a brine made from whey and salt 7% salt by weight. It sounds like a lot of monkeying around, but amounts to a few minutes here and there over a few days................. The product is well worth it!! H.W.
  15. Owly

    Thermal Fuses

    I frequently modify modern appliances and vehicles to work the way I want them to. The idiot engineers seem to be in love with geeky features. My Ninja blender lasted about a day before I tore it apart and modified it so the single serve container could be used at any speed instead of just the highest, and you don't have to hold your finger on the button, and while I was at it, disabled the safety switches, as I am the only one who will ever use it. My '10 Outback had so many idiotic "features" I've lost count, and I've gradually altered most of them. Refrigerators are my number one irritation......... I have never in modern times owned one where the thermostat worked properly, and new thermostats do not fix the problem........ they will let the temp rise, then go on a tear and freeze all my veggies, at unpredictable intervals. The solution is an STC 1000 or PID mounted to the outside, with the themocouple inside in a suitable location. So called "crisper" drawers are mini freezers, sitting at the bottom where the cold air collects............. I hate refrigerators with a passion. What is so difficult about engineering one that works??? Some of the old ones from the '60s did work properly. My current big GE side by side is an abortion!! I've long contemplated making my own refer, that simply used a brine circuit from an adjacent upright freezer, with a small circulating pump and a thermostatic fan. The most foolproof system I ever saw was in an old homestead home that had been abandoned for many years. The ice house was a cellar beneath the kitchen where ice was buried in sawdust as it was in those days... which makes it last all summer. A dumb waiter connected it to the kitchen, so you could lower the milk, eggs, and veggies into the ice house, and raise them with a crank when needed. He made ice by pumping troughs full of water from his hand pumped well, tipped the troughs over to eject the blocks of ice, and slid them down a chute into the cellar / ice house.......... took me a bit of sleuthing to figure this all out, as the place as an abandoned wreck that hadn't been occupied for about 50 years, and all anybody knows about the owner is that he rode around on a big bay stud horse, and bred people's mares for a fee......... A brilliant innovator. I've always thought if I ever build a house, I'll do the same thing, or something similar, as part of an off grid plan............ but with climate change it might not work... I've never had a TV in my life, and do not keep a sound system in my home anymore as I like silence........... Where I live there is no traffic or other noise except the wind, and the animals and birds. At night, I may on occasion listen to music on my computer, or watch something on Utube, but otherwise I live in a silent home. In the background I hear a raven, and nearby the chickadees, rosy finches, a nuthatch, and a pair of downey woodpeckers provide entertainment right outside my window at the feeders......... H.W.
  16. I don't see anybody using my favorite source of smoke. I love the flavor imparted by fresh green creek bottom willow twigs with the bark on. These are NOT willow trees such as golden or weeping, etc, they are the brush that grows in damp and wet areas, such as #### willows. I use these for a light smokey flavor when cooking, rather than serious smoking. Most recently I did a rack of prime ribs this way, and a lamb roast. both were pre-cooked to medium rare, and put on the kamado frozen, and the ribs were cooked until up to eating temp. The idea is to create a surface smoke as a seasoning. The lamb roast was refrozen for later use, so I didn't worry about core temp. This was done at a low indicated temp..... around 200. The lamb was used on New Year's Day dinner, along with the pecan cheesecake pie I described in the dessert section. We sliced and very briefly steamed the thawed lamb on a wire rack in a skillet to bring it up to temp without cooking it further or drying it out. It was very delicious, and popular. Nobody there had ever had lamb smoke cooked. H.W.
  17. This is only slightly off topic, as most folks here have kitchen appliances that heat. Coffee makers, hot plates, slow cookers, etc. Thousands of these appliances end up in the dump each year because they quit working, and nobody fixes them. My $100 Bunn coffee maker has a 3 year life expectancy plus a little bit.... Just enough to get beyond warranty. Inevitably a thermal fuse in it fails. I was fortunate enough once to have still been within warranty, but after buying a replacement once, I simply got mad and cut the thermal fuse out the next time one failed....Had to have that morning coffee!! , and ordered a handful of replacements on Ebay, installing one later.............. Today another one failed...... this time on my hotplate during a "process".... it took a little while and a VOM to track down the problem as I was rigged with a PID controller. I don't like using something like that without a thermal protection system of some sort, so I called the local Radio Shack. They stock thermal fuses, and one matches except for the current...... too low at 10 amps, but I will parallel 2 of them for current. These are designed when the ambient temp gets too high. In this case 216C. If you have not dealt with these things before, they look like a small resistor, but have a metal housing. The temp rating and current rating are printed on the outside................. Thermal fuses are normally covered in a heat resistant woven ceramic fabric sleeve. You may not even notice that it is there. Don't throw that appliance away........ replace the thermal fuse. In this throw away society, I try to fix things when I can. H.W.
  18. I made my second iteration of the pecan pie with a cheesecake layer to share with friends over New Year's Day dinner. We also had a lamb roast that had been given to me by a local restaurateur friend who was going out of business and had it pre-cooked in the freezer. I jumped at this because I love properly cooked lamb, and he's one of very few people I know other than myself who cooks it properly. It went on the kamado frozen solid a few weeks ago for a nice surface smoke with willow.....green twigs, for an awesome light smoke flavor. It didn't stay there long enough to thaw at the time, as I didn't want to cook it further than the medium rare Bill typically does. At dinner, on New Year's day, I had it fully thawed, and we sliced it and lightly steamed the slices to bring them up to eating temp, no more. Tender and moist, with a lightly smoked rind, it was to die for!! The pie had a conventional crust........ which I made using Krustez mix, as I hate messing with shortening, and their product produces a lovely flaky crust with just the right proportions and very little work For once in my life I followed a recipe............ From Bunny's Warm Oven website. It just seemed right........ well, I actually took a few "liberties" The cream cheese was home made a week ago using a process where a culture of fresh home made kefir as well as a limited amount of rennet was placed in a pot of warm whole milk and heavy cream, and allowed to work for 24 hours. I cut the curd to about 1" squares, about 8 hours in, and after 24 hours I put it into a cheese muslin to drain, hanging in an 80F environment for another 24 hours, then removed and salted it lightly, and left it for another 12 hours. The result was a nice tangy cream cheese, unlike anything you buy in the store. A weighed out 8 oz of this cream cheese, one egg, and 1/4c sugar and 2t vanilla were beaten together for the cream cheese layer. I wasn't happy with this as it was a bit more liquid than I liked, so it went into a double boiler, and I cooked it awhile until it began to thicken up nicely. The cheese mixture was spread in the pie crust, after I cooled it a bit, and it was liberally sprinkled with chopped crystal ginger (NOT IN THE RECIPE). The first layer was baked 15 min at 350F, then the pie was removed, and the pecan pie filling added (below) which I had made during that 15 min was added on top. 2 eggs, 1/2 C brown sugar (recipe calls for white), 1/2C corn syrup, 3T melted butter 2t vanilla, and 1/4t salt whisked together I sprinkled the pecans over the cheesecake layer.........no quantity listed so I did the "TLAR" method (that looks about right), and poured the filling on top Baked for 35-40 min at 350 and chilled The result was wonderful, with the tangy cheesecake layer.......... and it was tangy, not super sweet, the bits of crystal ginger gave it delightful little bursts of flavor. The pecan layer was sweet, but not excessively, and was delightfully crunchy. There was almost none of the usual rich sweet gelatinous stuff under the pecans. It was a study in contrasts that was almost irresistible! Unfortunately I didn't get any photos......... It was gone too fast!! ***** I will repeat this, but in the next iteration, I will reduce the cheesecake layer just a bit and add a bit more of the pecan pie filling to try to achieve more distinct middle layer. This recipe filled the shell completely, making me wish I had pie plates with taller sides so I could increase the middle layer without robbing any of the cheesecake layer which was so delightful. I may shop for a suitable pan. H.W. Here is a link to the original recipe: Bunny's Pecan Cream Cheese Pie
  19. Since my weight loss program......... which includes lots of fasting, I'm trying to "pound" nutrients from natural sources. My Omega 900 slow auger juicer is a real asset in this, as I can make "green" juices. It also makes nut butters, and I processed raw sweet potatoes the other day for example to make sweet potato pie. In addition I eat lots of salad, and find that I get tired of salads, and my salad consumption goes in spurts. I have an indoor hydroponic garden growing under grow lites that helps with this. My developing favorite breakfast is a sort of veggie omelet benedict......... with a bastardization of hollindaise sauce. I take a hand full of salad greens .... "power greens", a slice of onion, a garlic clove (both chopped), and some cherry tomatoes (from last summer's garden still!!), blitz them in a single serve cup on my Ninja. Meanwhile I'm browning a couple of links. In a double boiler, I'm melting 1T butter, into which I stir 1t flour and some salt, one egg yoke, and some milk (TLAR). The white from that egg, and one whole egg, goes into the veggies along with salt and spice, and the works goes into a skillet with a lid to cook slowly.... along with the links. The sauce gradually thickens, and I add about one t of lemon juice, and some cayenne. If my logistics work out, I end up with it all done about the same time. A lovely airy omlette.... almost a souffle, a couple of links, all drizzled with a nice tangy spicy sauce somewhat resembling Hollandaise. The veggies are the dominate component in the "omelet". I will often sprinkle some cheese over it before cooking is complete...... cheddar, or parmesan. I also sometimes make the sauce with heavy cream for an obscenely rich sauce. For some reason the omelet portion is much lighter and better with the one yoke removed than with two eggs. H.W.
  20. Smoke cooking for flavor is something I like to do...... Just a light smoking that provides more of a "hint" than a heavy flavor. The technique I've used a couple of times now is to sous vide to MR, the freeze solid. The frozen meat goes into the kamado with smoke. As it is already cooked, cooking is not part of the equation. I like to do this at 250-350. I operate on the TLAR system (that looks about right), and when I'm satisfied, I pull it out cover, and let rest. A meat thermometer would be more scientific, but cannot be inserted into frozen meat, so would have to be inserted late in the process. The results have been excellent without exception so far, as moisture loss is kept to a minimum........... H.W.
  21. Today I took several recipes and put them together. First was a sort of puff pastry type dough consisting of 1C flour, 1/3 C cold water, and 1/4t salt, rolled out buttered and folded in thirds twice and a third time rolled up like a cinnamon roll. This is the crust for a Portuguese Custard Tart...... find it on Utube. The crust is made by slicing the chilled roll like cinnamon rolls, setting one in each cup of a muffin tin cut side up/down, and spreading it across the bottom and up the sides from an initial depression made with a thumb..... the thumbs work it up the sides. I made cream cheese several days ago, and it's been draining and souring most of the intervening time. Used my kefir as a culture ( I've kept a kefir culture for years and use kefir daily). Heated the milk and cream to a suitable incubation temp, added the kefir and a generous amount of liquid rennet (didn't measure). Left it 12 hrs in the pot and cut the curds, left it another 12, and carefully ladled the curds out with a perforated spoon into a cheese muslin in a colander. Hung for about 24 hrs at room temp, then salted it, and rehung for another 24 hours. A nice tangy cream cheese Today I made up the shells mentioned above, then mixed 8 oz of cream cheese with half a beaten egg, and a dash of salt. A generous dollop of this soft spreadable mixture in the bottom of each shell The pecan pie filling was the least sweet I could find.... 1/2 C brown sugar & 1/2 corn syrup, 1/4 C butter, 1/4 t salt, 1C pecans I chopped up enough crystal ginger to sprinkle about 1/2 t over the cream cheese layer in each cup before adding the pie filling added the pie filling and baked............ didn't time it. The result: The cream cheese was an excellent addition The crystal ginger added a unique and interesting touch The pecan pie filling was just what I was looking for The shells are great I added too much the cream cheese mixture. The filling puffed up like little muffins during baking, and some of the classic filling was pushed out. Doing it again, I would extend the shells above the tin, and use less of the cream cheese mixture, as it displaced too much of the pie filling Over all they are delicious, but not quite "on target"........ A success but not perfect. H.W.
  22. Avoid setting a pattern is one of my rules. When you set a pattern, your metabolism adjusts to that pattern. Keep your body off balance. I just finished the second fast of this year. A 5 day following one eating day, after a 3 day. I'll take a couple of days off, and pick it up again. I might do my rotating meals fast, which I like...... breakfast today, lunch tomorrow, dinner the next day, nothing the following day, and breakfast the day after that for a week or so..... 30 hour fasts essentially. I don't count these when I total up fasting days, I only count fasts of at least 48 hours. The target this year is to 145. I've let things slip over the period since I stopped last years fast........ because I intended to resume this winter. If it takes only a brief amount of fasting to hit your goal, you do not stay in autophagy long enough as far as I'm concerned. I'm planning on 40 days total this year over a few months. I always gain when I visit family, and during the holidays....... and that's OK. I've changed my regular eating habits, and that's an ongoing process. I absolutely refuse to "diet" or count calories, or work out in a gym. I walk 2 miles a day on my own trail through the woods ..... round trip to the post office. I'm very fit at 64, and can still hike 20 miles up into the mountains in a day without difficulty. H.W.
  23. The most flavorful meat is next to the bones......... While you are eating your prime rib roast tomorrow, I will be doing a light smoke barbecue on the ribs only. A local chef/caterer finds it more economical to buy bone in, and bone it himself before cooking, and often gives me trimmed off bones with a generous amount of meat in exchange for things I do for him. I cook them in sous vide to 130, and have begun putting them in the kamado frozen, and smoke cooking them just enough to thaw and bring them up to eating temp. You don't get a lot of meat per bone, but the meat next to the bone is by far the best!! H.W.
  24. For Christmas dinner (alone), I plan to take a couple of pork chops that were cooked sous vide, and put them in the Kamado frozen solid, keeping the temp down around 130-140, and infusing them with apple wood smoke as they slowly thaw and come up to eating temp........ anybody else use this technique? I did this with beef ribs awhile back and the results were superb. As the rack was frozen to start with, I was able to get a nice subtle smoke flavor without the ribs drying out at all. They were moist and tender with a little bit of crust, and of course as they were already done using sous vide, I didn't have to worry about "cooking" them other than the surface. The result was superb. I'm developing a love affair with my little bitty kamado. H.W.
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