Friday, November 30, 2007

homestyle chicken noodles

I was anxious to make home made noodles since Jack's mom taught me how over Thanksgiving. So when I had an open afternoon, I went for it.

I started by roasting a chicken in my usual fashion. It was accompanied in the roasting pan with cloves of garlic, shallots and an onion.

After I took that out of the oven to rest, I started on my noodles. I used 1 cup of flour, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon baking powder and some salt and a splash of milk. As I mixed, I saw that it was too sticky, and I probably ended up adding another 1/2 cup of flour. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, then roll it out and cut it into strips. Boom. Noodles. I dusted these pretty heavily with flour, then let them sit while I dismantled the chicken.

I took most all of the meat off the chicken. That was ugly, as I am still awful at cutting up chicken. It didn't matter much for this, as I just needed all sorts of chicken pieces. Once mutilated, I covered the bones, skin, cartilage, junk , etc. with some water and made it into a rough stock. I let it simmer, which I knw is kinda a sin in stock making, but I was doing what Jack's mom did, darn it. And her's turned out yummy...

As for the veggies that roasted with the chicken, I pureed them all together to make a sort of spread, which also served as a dip for my brussel sprouts. Mmmmmm....

I acutally did all this last evening, then put everything separately in the fridge and made the meal tonight. So after a pretty hectic day at work, all i had to do was roast some brussel sprouts ( a bag of frozen sprouts with butter, salt and pepper and some garlic cloves), heat up the stock, add some water and boil the noodles (and all the flour they are dusted with...this is important because it thickens the sauce) in the stock.

After the noodles cooked for about 12-15 minutes (this time may be shorter for fresh fresh noodles, but mine sat in the fridge overnight), I added a couple handfuls of pulled chicken, and continues to cook everything at a boil for like 15 minutes or so, until the noodles were tender.

So that was dinner. Roasted brussel sprouts, roasted shallot/onion/garlic puree to dip the sprouts in, and chicken and noodles from scratch. Pretty simple, but oh so nice and warm and comforting. The smells in the apartment are awesome. Like Nonna's house the day after Christmas. Or Jack's family's house the day after Thanksgiving...

And with that, I accomplished my post per day in November for NaBloPoMo! Woo! That wasn't so bad, was it. Oh wait, that means tomorrow is December!! Wah! I'm not ready!!! :)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

more retro food

Along with aquiring Kermit's old book, I got 4 additions to my 60's and 70's Better Home and Gardens cookbook collection (see others here and here). I got these 4 gems:

The first one, All-time Favorite Beef Recipes, is the most boring. By Boring, I mean it contains mostly good-looking recipes. Like these short ribs:

Moving on, The After Work Cook Book has a few things that make me giggle. Recipes such as this Sweet and Sour Chicken Mold:

The next one, Lunches and Brunches, is pretty darn awesome. Plus! It came with a bonus...some handwritten and typed recipe cards, and a business card for "Microwave Magic Internationsl" which offered a Microwave cooking school and a complete line of microwaves and accessories.

This book also had a savory gelatin ring. This time, a tomato aspic topped with Perfect Potato Salad." mmmmmmm...

Also, this tuna ring:

Last, but certainly not least, is the Meat Cook Book. Wow, is this one fun. "Meat" turns out to encompass a wide variety of protiens, including fish, offal and "canned luncheon meat." Here is said SPAM with potatoes. Canned potatoes.

This tongue recipe actually sounds interesting...

Can you spot the "interesting" part of this recipe?

dang, I am so hooked on these books!! Luckily they are cheap...I didn't pay more than $2 for each of them. There was a booth with more of them, but they were $3.50 a piece, which I found just too high. Which shows that I'm not completely addicted....right?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

kermit's cutco cookbook

I went to browse around an antique mall close to where I live last night. I left with some vintage cookbooks. The most expensive one being this Cutco cookbook at $3.95. I could not resist, mainly because of the adorable illustrations within...

Also, seeing the former owner's name clinched the sale...

Plus! It might just come in handy. It has good info on some basics that you don't see in today's 30 minute cookbooks. Check out this page identifying offal or "variety meats"!

Now, being a 1961 book, I was pretty shocked at the...un-PC..well...pretty much downright racist caricatures. Huh...

History is crazy! Eek.

Anyway, my mom has given us a cutco knife for the past two Christmases. Our old neighbor boy (bully!) sells them. We have the carving knife and the pairing knife. They are pretty good knives (compared to our pathetic old cheap knife collection), and looking at the photos in the book, It looks like the design hasn't changed in over 40 years! Neat!

bacon kettle corn

I said it! BACON. KETTLE. CORN. oh yes. yes indeedy. You see, over the weekend I had some fresh kettle corn from some dude in a parking lot. I always forget how great that stuff is! Not as sweet and sticky as caramel's crisp and has a bit of salt to it and just enough sweet...gosh darn addicting is what it is.

"I need to figure out how to make this glorious snack," says I. So I consulted the handy booklet that was included with my Whirley Pop and sure enough there was a recipe for "sweet glaze popcorn" which sounded right on.

A little later, I was checking out some links I had saved in regards to different and fun ways to use my bacon. Bacon caramels and pork candy are truly inspired recipes, and I will probably try them both someday. The one that really got me thinking, however, was this bacon popcorn. Sounds good as is, but with those sweet bacon recipes on my mind, along with my urge to make kettle corn, the idea to make bacon kettle corn came naturally.

Basically, I cut some thick slices of the bacon into small bites, fried them until they were crispy, and poured the resulting grease into the popcorn popper. Then I added a little veg oil to supplement it (about 6 or 7 tablespoons of oil all-together...drippings and other oil combined), some regular sugar (4 tablespoons), brown sugar (approx. 3 tablespoons) and unpopped popcorn (2/3 cup). I also put the bacon pieces in there, and whirled it until it all popped. Easy!

Wowsers! this was some crispy, salty/sweet goodness!

Monday, November 26, 2007

pork fat salad!

For dinner tonight I took my cue from the first course served to us at the Michael Ruhlman demo at Viking. A simple salad, really, which came together quickly and tasted awesome. A bed of “baby arugula blend” which actually contained mostly baby spinach (that’s how they getcha!), topped with Gorgonzola cheese, lardons made with my bacon and shallots sauteed in said lardon drippings, dressed with a bit of olive oil, red wine vinegar and fresh black pepper. See? It told you it was simple. Did I mention it was delicious? ‘Cuz it was!

The lardons were the highlight. I cut bite sized pieces of the bacon, about 1”x1/2”x1/2”, soaked them in warm water while I prepped everything else and changed into my jammies and opened some wine (in other words, about 20 minutes), then fried them up until they were crispy and golden on the outside and nice and chewy/tender on the inside.

I drained off some of the resulting grease, keeping a couple teaspoons worth in the pan. I cooked some thinly sliced shallots in these drippings until they were caramelized, then it was just a matter of putting everything together. Yay! I had it with some warm crusty wheat bread and an inexpensive (but tasty) cab. Everything went swell together.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

whole fish inspiration

And now the arguing, the fight every time, who gets the prize and who got it last, and you always get your way and you're a lying cheat, for the fish only has two eyes and there are three daughters and someone will be left out. Someone always gets left out.

But tonight I'm a lucky one. Tonight I get an eye.

Back in September, out in the country, my uncle had smoked some fresh whole fish. He told us about how his mom and her siblings, growing up in Ireland, would fight over who got to eat the fish eyes. He then popped one out and ate it, showing me that it was okay. So I popped out the other one and ate it. Not bad! Like a little nut. I guess I expected squishy or something, but it wasn't at all. It was quite hard...a bit chalky with a hard center. Fun!

The next day, chilling in a hammock with an Utne magazine, I came across an essay called "The Prize Inside" by Toni Mirosevich, originally written for Gastronomica. Can you believe it was about the anticipation and joy of eating the fish eyes? This time it's a Slavic family. It's a great little read (excerpt above), and it kind of opened my eyes (totally intended pun) about what small things we miss as mid-west Americans with our convenient filleted frozen skinless boneless eyeball-less fish.

I have vowed to try and cook whole fish whenever possible. The flavor is in the bones and the head, it seems. It's hard to get here unless you live by a nice river and can fish...then OMG trout...yum. I've had luck getting frozen whole fish at Asian markets, and I know there's a couple reputable fish mongers not too far from me. I need to check them out.

Here are some whole fish recipes that caught my...erm...eye:

Jaden's whole fish grilled on a banana leaf

Thai whole fish with coriander-chili sauce

Here's a good tutorial on seaming whole fish at

Whole fish baked in salt. I so want to bake stuff in salt.

Steamed whole fish with ginger and scallions

Whole fish with fennel, preserved lemons and olives (this will be great for winter!)

In that same issue of Utne, there was another article about fish, called "a Ditch Runs Through It" by Jeffrey Ewing. He and his work buddy like to blow off steam on their lunch hour by going fishing in drainage ditches in industrial areas. These ditches contain mostly carp, which the author throw back...

Most American fishermen, myself included, consider carp a trash fish. The dull color of wet cardboard, they slog through the soft ditch bed, slurping the bottom silt with round, sphincterlike mouths. They are ugly, which undoubtedly accounts for a portion of their pariah status. Our true selves are reflected, we believe, in our choice of prey--we are what we catch. Fishing for carp, therefore, demonstrates a lack of self-esteem.

Ditch fishers have no such handicap. They are on the bottom rung already, and if you have no problem with the stigma, the bottom rung can offer a great deal of freedom. Billy and I understand this, at least in relation to fishing. After all, when you consider a Dodge transaxle 'structure'--a bass-fishing term for underwater habitat--you don't have very far to fall. We are brothers. Companeros. The only difference between us and our friends down the bank is that they eat what they catch.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

bacon makin'; the finale

I was so excited about today. You see, today was the day that my bacon finished curing, and I was able to finish it up and taste the results. You guys, I totally made bacon! Crazy! Here's how it went down:

We pulled the cured pork belly out of the fridge and rinsed it off really good.

Then, Jack thought it would be a good idea to cut a little off and fry it up to see how salty it was. It was pretty salty, so we soaked the slab in about 7 or 8 changes of water.

Jack rigged up a gas grill with some aluminum pans filled with soaked hickory and mesquite wood chips.

Only one side of the grill's burners were lit, and the bacon was placed on the cool side. It was left in there to smoke (with some tending to the chips and checking the heat) for about 3 hours.

Here is the final product:

We sliced some and fried it. It was still pretty salty, so we soaked the slices in water for about half an hour before cooking up another batch. that helped greatly, and we had some delicious bacon!

Before attempting any more Charcuterie, we'll take another stab at mastering basic bacon. I think we made the rookie mistake of over salting it. It's that fear of raw meat, you know? It's not a big mistake, as it can be fixed by soaking or blanching. I can't wait to make lardons with it.

Friday, November 23, 2007

yummy bling

I saw this little post about food jewelry, and decided to do a little window shopping of my own. It is that big shopping day, after all. So what if I didn't leave the house at all. I learned to make noodles, and I learned to crochet. And I looked at pretty little things. I'll share my favorite pretty little things...

a golden saltine cracker. simple and versatile. and pretty!

on the subject of salty snacks, check out this pretty silver pretzel necklace.

mmmm...sushi dinner...with real rice inside! cute.

adorable silver dumplings. how to choose?

I am totally coveting this 5 spice necklace by jewelry designer Sara Hood. It's so beautiful.

I can't see actually wearing these bacon and egg earrings (besides the fact that my ears aren't pierced), but they are irresistible, no?

there you have it. gorgeous ways to wear your stomach on your sleeve...or neck or ears...

Thursday, November 22, 2007


carbs are beautiful, no? The Thanksgiving dinner I ate included mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls and fresh noodles. Mmmm. Here are some quick snapshots of meal preparations. None of it was prepared by me, but I want to try making this stuff when I get home.

Rolls! All big and poofy and ready to bake. Man were these poofy!

Fresh noodles. I will probably make these sometime. I didn't see Jack's mom make them, but she explained it to me and it sounds easy. Like how Ruhlman made pasta, but with a bit more egg, and not rolled through a pasta machine. Just roughly cut into pieces, boiled with lots of the roasting juices from the turkey. They also remind me of my Nonna's chicken and noodles.

I will totally be making carrots this way from now on. Just simmered in beef broth and some butter. Simple, but the result is and addicting, savory-sweet side-dish.

So there's my Thanksgiving post. I didn't get many photos of the food because I was busy eating it. And I don't have much to say because I'm in that slightly comatose post-big carby meal state. Funny how I'm ready to go check the fridge for a leftover snack...