Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hot Iron

Hot iron looks like cold iron.  So, if you take the lid off a Dutch oven using a hot mitt, do not attempt to put the lid back on with your BARE HANDS!

The dilemma you face will be whether to place the lid down on the counter gently so as to not damage the counter, or drop the thing so as not to damage your hand.

Warning:  Mentally debating this issue will cause you immediate and escalating pain!

That is all.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pizza Party Right and Rong

OK, let's get down to business.

Pizza Party Rong:  buy beer, order pizza, eat pizza, drink beer, say good-bye.

Pizza Party Right

Invite friends.  Shop for interesting ingredients for pizza:  pepperoni, cheese, pizza sauce, artichokes, peppers, anchovies, mushrooms, onions, sausage, jalapeños, arugula, sun dried tomatoes, olives, more olives, other stuff.  Invite a cat

Make pizza dough:

1 cup warm water
1 tbsp yeast
1 drop honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour

Chuck in a food processor with a dough blade and let 'er rip!  Then knead a little and let rise for 30 minutes or so.

For 12 people make three batches of dough and buy 4 lbs of shredded cheese! And a bunch of other stuff.

Each batch of dough will make 2 medium pizza crusts.  Let your friends roll them out and stand back!  Your job is to shove the pizzas in the oven and make sure they don't burn.  Other than that it's a good time had by all.

A pizza will take about 10 minutes at 450 F to cook, depending on how thick your friends rolled out the dough and how much stuff they put on.  Add or subtract 3-4 minutes as needed.  I have a pizza stone that gives the crust a nice crunchy texture.

I roll the pizza dough out on the countertop with flour to keep it from sticking, then transfer the flattened dough to a bread peal covered with corn meal to keep the dough from sticking.  Build your pizza on the peal then shove it in the oven on the stone.  The cooked pizza can be nudged off the stone on to a bread board using a wooden spoon.

Serve and bask in the rave reviews.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Time Passes Quickly ...

... and chances are few.

That's the refrain from a great song by Toto that summarizes this Spring!  It seems only yesterday that we were popping corks and shouting, "Happy New Year!"  Now, here we are at the end of April

That sentence doesn't even deserve punctuation.  The end of April.  How about a sentence fragment?  The sentiment is the same;  it's the end of April and here we are embarking on another summer having hardly enjoyed the winter.

Ah, winter.  I had no chance to throw a snowball mainly because it doesn't snow in Houston all that often.  I had no chance to wear a hunky, LL Bean coat because it never got very cold.  I had no chance to curse drivers who couldn't navigate slick streets because our streets were dry and frost free.  So, winter, I had no chance.  Poor me!

Spring, I had a chance to get laid low by pollen, but that didn't happen.  I had a chance to drown in torrential rain, but that didn't happen.  I had a chance to get carried away by an army of fire ants, but that didn't happen, either.  Spring, I had no chance.  Poor me!

Will summer pass as quickly?  Well, if past summers are any indication, yes.

It.  Will.  Pass.  Quickly.

The summer of 2007 was a "big summer" for me but it passed half a decade ago and the "big summers" of 2010 and 2011 are gone similarly.  In a blink it will be Christmas, again, and I'll deck the halls like it was 1999.

Which it was.

Not that long ago!

I think that at this accelerated time during which I'm obviously being pulled into a black hole that I must take the time, make the time, stop time (somehow) to relish the moment, capture the instant and take the chances that are so few.  They will only come once and if I miss them they will transform into regrets.  Life is too short for that!

I'll take my lesson from Kink the Cat who moves from the back of the house to the front of the house as the Sun creeps east to west.  Kink knows where sunlit warm spots are in the house and he never wastes time, never lets time pass to quickly or miss those few chances to lay in the sun and dream of lizards, birds, squirrels and chin scratches.

Kink never heard of Toto but he could have written that song.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fruit Fly Haiku

Little wee fruit fly
I leave banana for you
Why you like my wine?

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Brisket Smoking Time

How to smoke a brisket.

1. Get your beer cold. Very important.

2. Buy a brisket.

3. Have a beer.

4. Put your brisket in an automatic smoker.

5. Have a beer!

6. Watch teh smokes.

6. haves anotherr beeer.! haves 2! It's a brisketparty.

7. Getting other stuffs ready like corns and bean and eggplant.

8. Moar beerz!!! (if running out of beers invite neighborz to noms but only if they can haz beer.)

9. What brisket? Phone in pre-dins pizza!

5. Go 2 5. Do not pass out go.

Eleventy-two. Dinner noms time!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Dim Dum

Going out for dim sum is my favorite lunch experience. Well, other than slurping up cheese enchiladas like a whale on plankton, a pretty apt analogy when you think about it.

Don't. Thanks.

We have a favorite restaurant for lunchtime dim sum and they never disappoint. Although, I must say that after a few years we have found ourselves in the Rut of Favorites. Not that the RoF is a bad place to be, it's just the nagging feeling that we're missing something very tasty that's not currently in the rut. We need to widen the rut.

Sometimes we do that deliberately. Like the time we ordered the Sausage with Rice that turned out to be this little glass bowl full of sweet rice, Chinese sausage and "bits." Very tasty, but very tedious to eat with chopsticks! Then there was the "grey paste" and I don't even remember if it had a name, although our waitress cast us a glance and said, ominously, "Are you sure?" We should have taken the hint and answered, "No, we are not sure. Perhaps we would better have the pork egg rolls, yes?"

Sometimes we do it by accident. This happens because when you order dim sum you fill out a questionnaire that has all the selections on it and you mark a number next to the one you want. All the selections are numbered. Of course, each number has the dim sum clearly described so there's no confusion unless the customer is blind or illiterate. Or careless.

I'll pick Door Number 3 for "strange food," Alex!

That was me today. I meant to order "crystal shrimp dumplings" and when the guy pushed his cart to our table with the pan of dim sum it was anything but crystal shrimp dumplings.

No crystal.

No shrimp.

No dumpling.

Nope, it looked for all the world like "parts." As in "from parts unknown." Mind you, there was a perky slice of jalapeño perched on top of the parts, but, really, it didn't look to happy sitting there. Doing its best to be perky, though.

We said, "No. Not crystal shrimp. Not our order."

Minutes later our patient waitress came by with the "parts" and our original order. Sure enough I had marked "parts" with a big, blue "1" and I noticed that the delectable non-parts crystal shrimp dumplings were exactly one line below.

My fault.

Well, the rule is to accept responsibility and that's what I did. Did I want to change the order, yep I did, but did I change the order, nope I didn't. I ordered parts and we were going to eat parts. Honor the perky pepper I say!

"Parts" turned out to be "pork bone and gristle in spicy black bean sauce." True there were a few black beans swimming in a little sauce supervised by the perky pepper. And in the middle of the sauce was a collection of "parts" that only a veterinarian would appreciate. If there was anything to eat amongst, in or around the "parts" it eluded me. But, not deterred, I picked through the parts and did my best to nibble on whatever part of the animal (who knows what animal) this was. I must admit the flavor was good and a little spicy thanks to the perky pepper. In fact, KUDOS to the Perky Pepper!

After we were done gnashing on the parts our waitress came by and asked us how the "parts" were and we told her truthfully, "tasty."

The lesson hopefully learned is to double check the order next time. But, you know, we've never tried chicken feet and they are located right below our favorite chive pancakes.

Too soon, though, too soon.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Spring Sprung and Unhinged

Spring has sprung. Bird are chirping. And it's hot and cold and cool and rainy and dry and weird.

Yes, weird.

The one thing that can't handle Spring is the Mall air conditioning system. Nope, not at all! It's either on full blast, like a meat locker, or on full blast, like Hawaii.

Now, the Arctic Food kiosk loves the arctic blast, but not the Hawaiian Wraps booth. "Yes, sir, just let your sushi thaw out a little and it will be fine."

Things will even out in a few months when the average temp is tropical and the weatherman talks constantly about "warm moist Gulf air."

Like, what else comes from the Gulf, snowballs?

Monday, April 02, 2012

Hot Rib Job Fail

OK, I'll admit it. I cook by gut feel and by the feel of my gut I do a pretty good job. There is no such thing as standard food.

Well, actually there is. The McDonald's hamburger bun is mixed, risen and baked to bun after bun perfection with nearly 100 billion buns produced all the same.

Very. Little. Variation.

In fact, years ago McDonald's bakeries contracted Japanese rice cooker scientists to develop "fuzzy logic" algorithms to help produce an even more Perfect Bun. Still, the Master Baker pokes the dough at some point and pronounces it "perfect" enough for McDonalds.

If I had known all this I would have bought their burgers, thrown away the disgusting insides and just eaten the buns!


Not so my ribs smoking. I think the ribs are pretty much standard, at least, the pig hasn't evolved to the point where ribs are Quite Different when purchased at Kroger's. Baby back ribs are baby back ribs unless they're on sale in which case they are Dinner For Tonight ribs!

So, the variation in my rib smoking technique, ignoring the wood I use, boils down to the dry rub and the basting mixture.

Since I cook by gut I don't keep a diary or record of my dry rub mixtures. I just grab some of this and some of that, smash it on, dry the ribs in the fridge for a few hours and smoke them.

Thus, the deviation I made substituting Chipotle Pepper Chili powder for paprika may have been a contributing factor to ribs that were a little tangy to the tongue. A little peppery to the palate. A little risqué to the rear end the next day, if you get my drift.

Note to self: not so much chipotle chili next time.

Second Note to self: who are you kidding? You'll never remember the previous note.

My most successful ribs came from using a "standard" rub mix that I found on the Best Ever Ribs I Ever Smoked website, or something like that, and I made a big batch which I went through over the course of a year. No complaints that year.

Third Note to self: No complaints is a good thing. Not taking you for granted.

Is there a lesson learned? Who knows. Certainly there was a lesson but whether it was learned or not time will tell.

However, I'm home next weekend and ribs might still be on sale and with a little begging I might get another chance.

Now, there was that discouraging comment heard last night, "Have you ever tried smoking cod?"

Oh, that hurt.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

I'm back in the saddle again.


I swear this time. Pinky swear.

I got sucked into the Facebook whirlpool and as fun as that was it's just not as productive an outlet as a blog.

Blogspot, I'm sorry! Can you ever forgive me? I didn't love Facebook, really. It's all my fault.

Oh, it's April 1st but no fooling around. This is for realzies. I'm not going to look at other social media, although I did set up a Tumblr account. Hopefully, I can stay true to Blogger.

So, what a year, eh? It's already April and before you know it we'll be putting up Christmas decorations and buying vast quantities of eggnog. Actually I'm kinda looking forward to that!

Meanwhile, we have Spring stories to tell and adventures to have.

Let's get started!