Excerpt – Time, Fire, and Cuisine

To this day I cannot say how this classifies. It does not have recipes on every page like a cookbook, but it does have a flow I think so it just remains as a food book. Which if you do not know seems to be a good way to surmise my writings so far. I write about food, how food reacts in the world, how it can be made, how it can be tasted, and really I think you get a better appreciation for it that way. Otherwise it is just another food porno in the world where you can get just get a good camera and some clay and tell people what you created.

From one book to two, with pages that will be switched in and out before it is done.  Then begins the illustrations slash the getting the agents to look at it. If they like it then great if not then I will just have to learn and move on

December 1st – At the beginning

Writing this “little project” has been at the best of times vexing and at its worst one of the fastest routes to a migraine I have had to go on. Trying to figure out what recipes would be best suited while balancing the stories and techniques were difficult with some of the experiences as unique as any piece of fiction.

The reason those pages are there though are to help shed light on the kinds of people and situations that may have gone one. To eat a restaurant is a complex issue of so many things done well that sometimes it is just as much fun to watch the whole thing as it is to just eat what is on the plate. In every kitchen around the world there are many people trying to make their way through life from the server to the chef each with a story to tell. Since you cannot make it through the world without listening to a few you might as well enjoy the ones you do listen to.

Now, with the last month of this project I can truly say that with all the techniques, experiences, terms, ideas, and of course recipes there should be something for everyone to learn one thing at least. If I managed that I would call this a success whether it is how to plate, cook, do things on the fly or even my own little opinion in a grand world.

We all seem devoted to the end product without thinking about everything that made it get there. It seems to happen to me whenever I do go out and I have a great plate that I think of the stories that plate of food told of how it got there to the hands making it. Machiavelli, the man often credited to such a school of thinking, is dead. If people sold in to it as much as they say then at least he would have found a way to continue breathing.

Enjoy the last portion of this book as much as I did writing it, even if it just a couple laughs at my own opinion in life.

December 31st – Final Test

This book hopefully has taught some valuable lessons or at the very least made you chuckle once. Now for the exam. In previous tests you had to use what you gleamed to make a meal. After your finished you need to compare to the dish you had to make at the start. For this time make three dishes from previous experience two of them have already been chosen.

For the first dish: Remake your first test dish and improve upon it using everything you have learned.

Made:_____________________________________

Second dish will be the dish incorporating recipes or formulas in your own plates. Improve upon this recipe and truly make it your own.

Made:________________________________________

The last dish will be your own. Have a friend pick one protein, one starch and one vegetable without your knowledge. Cook for them in the span of one hour a dish a full composed plate of food with the three main ingredients and whatever you have in your pantry.

Made:_______________________________________

Friend: ______________________________________

Protein:______________________________________

Starch:______________________________________

Vegetables:___________________________________

See how far you have come in the span of a single year. Every day you spent reading this either for a few minutes or few a couple hours. Learning what can be in the kitchens as well as the techniques and a good many recipes can be enough for a book. If anything I hope this will not sit loveless on a shelf instead being carted around as a fun read or even as a foot stool because this thing was much bigger then I thought at the beginning and I am proud to see it done .

Excerpt – Life, Love, and Cooking

This was originally a project that had started years ago because I wanted to show that one could make better food by better understanding it. How knowing some of the basics could build in to masterpieces on a plate, and no matter what we all need to eat. Typing this up is just the start of another step as instead of taking that project in full (about 129k words) it will be split in half for just about 62k in words.

Revising has to be done, word choice improved, pictures put in and a whole list of things that will in complete honesty may add up to absolutely nothing financially. That wasn’t why I did this project though, as I did it so that maybe someone out there in the real world. Someone who feels like they can’t do something will read it and even if they don’t agree on anything else find solace in the point that the world can be created by those willing to work for it and make it better. Enough waxing philosophically from the sixth month here is the last excerpt of this project.

June 26th- Meat loaf

This homey American dish has been recreated in almost every house with countless different flavorings. All meat loafs do have some things in common.

First is the use of ground meat whether its pork, turkey, chicken, beef or any other meat that can be ground. Lentils are even used as the base in a vegetarian option loaf.

Vegetables are often chopped in small chunks to give the loaf more texture when it is finished as well as a bit of extra color. The most common vegetables are the three belonging to the french mirepoix celery, carrot, onion.

Next is the glue that holds the entire thing together as it cooks. Eggs are one of the most popular items whether in yolks or whites separately or together are often used to bind everything together. For those who cant use all ground meat or those who want to cut the fat will often add bread crumbs in various forms. Sometimes old bread will be soaked in milk before being added to the ground beef.

Taking your meat in a bowl you would first add the vegetables and mix before finishing with the addition of your thickener and flavorings. Mixing until everything is amalgamated you would then shape it so it can fit in a high walled dish. Before setting it in the oven it can be wrapped in bacon to provide more flavor. As it cooks a large amount of fat will be left in the bottom of the dish with which you can make a gravy.

Meat loaf works well in thin slices for sandwiches while thicker slices can work for an entree all their own. It pairs well with hearty vegetables like scalloped potatoes.

Excerpt – Life, Love and Cooking

April 27th – Beef by numbers

Cooking cuts of beef to preferred doneness can seem rather scary to the uninitiated. Ending with an overcooked or vastly undercooked slab of meat can unnerve someone. When you ask how things should be cooked and get a half dozen different answers you need to learn the signs of difference which can come from one of two ways. First way it can be measured is by touch for as the protein cooks it gets tougher. Now there are some numbers you can check if you have a digital thermometer it will be the quickest way to get the temperature only do so when you feel you are just about done. Heat will continue to cook the meat so you want to aim just a few degrees lower then your target and let carryover heat finish the job. Take your reading from the top of the meat until you are comfortable with your skill. For the sear most look for on thicker steaks marks you will need to make them faster with a hotter grill. All numbers are in degrees of Fahrenheit

Blue – This is the rarest of all and you should remove it from the grill when it reaches 115 and the carry over should take it to 120.

Rare – Remove as it reaches 120 and let the residual heat push it to 125

Medium Rare- Remove at 125 and let residual heat push it to 130

Medium- Remove meat at 135 and let the residual finish it at 140

Medium Well- Remove at 145 and let residual heat bring it to 150

Well done – Remove at 155 and let residual heat finish it at 160

Brick – Cook to 165 and the finishing heat will bring it up to 170

Excerpt – Life, love, and cooking

Enjoy!

March 10th – Bacon fat

Today’s society has brought a new font of knowledge on the topics of saturated fats. While looking back in the era of our grandparents cooking some of us may remember the old tin can or glass jar where the drippings of the breakfast bacon would go. As a fat it holds itself much to a use like butter, solid at room temperature.

Cook your bacon in the pan on medium heat making sure to drain the fat after every other batch. Before you get the third batch going take your wire mesh strainer and pour the fat from the pan in to the strainer with the can waiting underneath. The strainer will remove the extra shards of bacon still left in the fat.

Due to the amount of salt in the bacon you will have a lot of salt in the drippings. This was the reason why some people would have the can out because so much salt can act as a preservative. Even if this is the case I keep mine in the fridge so that way there is less chance of accidental spills. Even though it is technically a solid at room temperature that does not mean it is a rigid solid. It will be a little softer then room temperature butter if you need something to associate it to.

Collecting, straining, and storing fat aside what would be some things you would want to use it with. The answer stands anywhere you want a savory fat to be heated. It can be added to warm sauces, used in replacement for oil in sautes as well as stir fry’s.

Wash some potatoes and cut them in to rings a half inch thick dry them off before warming your bacon fat in a pan to medium heat. Drop your slices of potato in to the fat and let them cook until they get a good coloration before flipping. As soon as the second side is finished let dry on a paper towel before sprinkling with old bay seasoning for a tasty snack.

Excerpt – Life, love, and cooking

So before we go in to the excerpt let me tell you something about this project. It originally started as something that someone read one page per day that would take them from the basics as I had learned them, skills and stories having that all build in to the end of the year. So things like basic sauce making, stocks and doughs in January while in December their would be actual full meal breakdowns.

The problem I found out with that is that makes a lot of writing. Starting off on the editing process I found out that everything ended up just under 125k words. For those who write the National Novel Writing Month has the goal of 50k so in short I wrote a lot for one book. After some thinking about what would be the best way to handle this I may have found an answer. If anyone would like to comment their two cents on it, I would appreciate it.

Options are either release it as one massive book or in two portions. If It gets split in to two portions it won’t be over the year obviously, but it will be easier to handle I would think. Also, I will have one excerpt from each month of the book on this blog. So twelve different excerpts to let you see how it is so far. One down eleven to go and with this, ten to go.

February 20th –A million starbucks yet

Knowing how popular coffee is in this country; tea has suffered the fate of falling in its shadow. Consisting of so many different flavors from all around the world some exist for taste while some take double duty for a sleeping aid or a caffeinated drink of choice. Since the amount any times is lower then your coffee or soda you can get a small boost without worrying about the crash.

At any house absolutely anywhere one good pot of tea just needs a couple pieces of information and some water. The info you will want will be how much you are steeping, what temp the water needs to be at for best flavor as well, as well how long.

For one 8 ounce cup of tea start with 1.5 tsp of whatever leaves you need except in the case of green and black which can be dropped to 1 tsp. Green is often sold in powders so you will need less of it. Reason is of how much surface area with the powder versus regular leaves. Black tea is often very strong so start off with one tsp just to see if you like that.

Green and white teas are good when steeped at 175 for between two to four minutes. Oolong and black go twenty degrees higher for 3 to 4 minutes. Herbals do best just under boiling at 205 for 5 minutes. Of course other teas are out there and they will have special preparation such as Chai for example. Learn how to maximize the flavor and invite your friends for a cup and a game. When making iced teas double the amount of leaves or powder.

You can have a tea pot, however you do not need one for good tea. If you want one there are many models and styles to choose from. Extra care needs to be taken though as with iron teapots you do not want to over heat a pot to blacken the paint or leave your leaves inside it for a period has that may invite rust or a loss of finish.