friday fives >>> unrise… unset®

*update – I had to pull this after briefly publishing it.  It was a mess, and written under the duress of no sleep. It’s mostly the same, but I punched it up a bit.

puppy and i - Dec 2014

1. Other than normal salt and pepper, what is your go to spice to make food better?

onions.  on everything.  if it is being heated in a pan for any reason, it’s getting onions.  If not fresh, I’ll do dehydrated onions.  Either chunk or powder.  If I had a child his name would be onions.

salt and pepper really go a long way, though.  That is assuming you are using good quality stuff.  For pepper, you MUST be cracking fresh pepper with a pepper mill.  It tastes SO much better.  Plus, it looks cool and adds some theater.  It’s not expensive, and truly makes all the difference.  Same with salt.  Yes, fresh cracked salt.  Btw, if this is what you pull out to put on a steak, just stop reading now.  We have broken up.  Don’t even bother going to the store.  Sell your pots and pans and just cook with a microwave.  You sicken me. **** (see below)

If you don’t have a pepper mill, set down your Henckels and your Calphalon pots and go buy one.  See, that is a joke.  If you don’t have a pepper mill, you don’t even know what a Henckel or a Calphalon is.

2. What is your favorite sandwich

The gyro.  A great gyro is ‘proof god loves us and wants us to be happy‘.  Problem with that is, it appears I am super particular about gyros.  I am very rarely pleased with the results. other than that, you can’t much go wrong with a roast beef sammich.

3. What is a food thing you buy in bulk?

spices.  Not because we go through so much, but you pay about 1/20th the cost if you just buy the spices in powder form in a little ziplock.  They are probably fresher, too.  That being said, ‘bulk’ spices might mean a quarter cup, at most.  The savings, though, will sicken you.

How much to buy?  How long to keep?  Well, a few months ago on the Alton Brown podcast.  He had the wonderful and interesting proprietors of the ‘Spice House‘ on.  They said one year.  Does that mean you should take everything in your cabinet that is over a year old and throw it out?  Well, yeah.  Or, more practically, find what you do use,
and keep a fresh stash of that.  Look at this;  fenugreek?  What the fuck is that?  I cook nightly, and I have no idea.  This little container could literally be from a college spice set I bought.  Yeah, that was 20 years ago.

I mean, it could be a great and useful spice.  I have no idea, that is my concern.

4. What food is supposed to be easy to cook but you can never get it right?

ok, listen; this is a great talk we are having and all.  However, I have to shut us down.  I have a couple problems.  One is, I need to be in bed right now.  I recently got a job, which is awesome.

However, I have been unemployed since I was laid off this summer.  Before that, I was the night shift guy for years.  Point being, I have NO idea how to go to bed at a reasonable time.  Also, getting up at 6 am is just ugly.  I haven’t used my alarm in years.
PLUS… we have a puppy only a few months old.  Pic above is him and I.  So, wifey and I have to wake up every few hours to let him go pee.

Apologies, but I can’t finish.  It’s not even late, at least to me.  It’s 10:25 pm Thursday evening as I write this.  At this point, I feel (and look) like Courtney Love after a two week vacation with Charlie Sheen.

5. What is your best Thrift Store/Flea Market/Yard Sale kitchen device you have found?

sorry, man.  Gotta get to bed pronto.  Am too tired to think.  Plus, we just got a new laptop, which I type this on as we speak.  I don’t know its quirks yet.  It’s got a DVD thingy, though, which is nice.  So, my screen is split between you and this concert.  not only is this a great show, I was there!  Seriously, I was.  It was 1989-ish… it was my very first Dead show.

I am so tired I have began to hallucinate in the mornings.  Early, early in the mornings there is this phenomenon.  It’s like the sunset, but in reverse.  It’s spectacular.  I am calling it an ‘Unset®‘.  Isn’t that clever?  I mean, it’s not exactly worth getting up at the crack of 10:00 am, but if you find your self up at that time, check it out!

*** this is NOT meant to be an indictment against Schilling pepper.  half of my spices are Schilling.  That isn’t the point.  The concern is if you are buying this stuff you aren’t getting all the yummy and fighty oils a fresh cracked pepper corn delivers.  You know how you are all careful to keep your coffee super fresh, and not let it touch air, and you grind it only right before you are brewing?  I mean… you DO do these things, right?  Well, I am the same with my pepper.

As for Salt… I LOVE this stuff.  Don’t think any salt will do.  Half your diet is salt, treat yourself, man.  have some pride.  This is the only salt I use.  You can find it at weird places, like our ranch supply store in Parker.

Friday Fives – cooking edition

1.    You have a kitchen.  All the things in a kitchen… stove, microwave, fridge… etc.   But, you have NO implements of any kind.  Not a single fork, spoon, knife, pot…etc.     You can go into Williams Sonoma (that is the fancy kitchen place, right) and leave with ten items.  What are those items?

fork, big wooden spoon, really nice big tall sided omelet pan, restaurant tongs (not those shitty ones we grew up with), wood cutting board (who are the assholes who buy the glass ones?  It makes a HORRIBLE racket).  Nice big ass chef knife, a steak knife,  this thing ( I think it is for dough, but I use it for everything.  Well, never for dough actually.), a decent glass casserole dish (which I have never made a casserole in, but its wicked useful.  I do marinating and mixing in it), coffee maker, coffee grinder, small metal bowl that I use every single day for mixing or whatever.  I fucking love this bowl, and size is important, ladies.  For this, you want small, and tall sides. 

Oh, and since I am at Williams Sonoma, and we can pretend this is for cooking… how about some whip-it nitrous canisters, a ‘cracker’, and some big ass balloons.  You know, for um…. uh… whipped cream.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  Hint, this guy is not celebrating a birthday.  He is, however, about to fall over and laugh his ass off.

2.    Do you bake, or cook?

I do not bake.  Almost never.  But, I cook every night.  Baking is too specific, and requires attention to detail.  You can’t improvise with baking, unless you know some Alton Brown type kitchen science… and it is clear that you do not.

3.    You have a hot date tonight… with ME.  What’s your go to dish?

grilled chicken cutlets over a wild rice mixture cooked with chicken broth and coconut mil.  Top with some free dried chives and a pinch of grated parm.

4.    All these cooking hosts…  who do you like?  Who don’t you like?

there is no one I don’t like.  My favorite above all is Alton Brown.  I am a super big fan of his work… and him.  Got to see him last year on a book tour.  Have my signed ‘good eats’ recipe book in the pantry.  Wait, Ok, I will tell you someone I don’t love.  Sandra Lee.  She is creepy, and looks like one of those robot stepford wives.  Now, to be fair… her concept is brilliant.  The ‘almost home made’ idea is wise.  I use that shit all the time.  I take a 99 cent box of pasta roni.  Dress it up some grilled chicken, chives, and parm (as referenced above) and it looks like a delicious home made masterpiece.  But, it is ten minutes of cooking and $2 total cost due to my brilliant chicken system*

Also, Giada doesn’t do much for me.  It seems her only skill is being stupidly pretty.  That is of no value to me in a cooking show.  In fact, it is a distraction.

5. What do you think about this Nadia G business?

At first, I thought it was stupid, patronizing, gimmicky jive.  She was playing this Adriana tough jersey mobster girl.  Yet, she is actually and pretty and sweet and very funny Canadian.  After I watched a few (of course I watched, she is HOT) the show really grew on me.  I could see she was truly passionate about cooking and truly funny.  Also, her little vignettes with Panos and the others remind me of Alton’s show, Good Eats.  Also, I did some more digging and found she came up grass roots.  She used to produce these bits for Youtube, and they got super popular.  So, she is this fabricated and exaggerated character… but it’s her own creation (like Larry the Cable guy).  If producers made her be this person, it wouldn’t work.  She is real, and that is even her real name, for now.  Am thinking it will be hyphenated in no time – Nadia Giosi-Lono

*So, what is my awesome and brilliant chicken idea?  Well, I use chicken a LOT.  This sounds like a commercial set up, but its true.  defrosting, setting it up, trimming, cooking and all of that is a pain.  So, I do a few weeks worth at once.  I go to Albertsons because they consistently have crazy good meat deals ($2 a pound boneless skinlss breasts).  Everything else sucks about Albertsons except their meat.  So, I season and cook up a few pounds in batches in one night.  I cook them on the gridler george foreman thing I have.  It’s really nice.  Then, once cooked, I slice them and put them in ziplocks in about 1/4 pound increments and throw them in the freezer.  Now, I have super ready, and very tasty, chicken at my beck and call for anything… pasta, ceasar salad… whatevs.  Raw chicken is super nasty, and super deadly.   So, I only deal with it about once a month.