Lemonade, with vodka, fizzy not flat

Yesterday, I got taken in by the $2 Full Flight.  A nifty weekend marketing shtick at Weiland's Gourmet Market.  In sync with the lovely warm weather, they featured 4 sips of summer libations.  It began with a couple wheat beers and proceeded into a couple Smirnoff products.  The Tuscan Lemonade depicted here was 3rd on the agenda followed by some kind of Mojito knock off.

I don't like wheat beers much, I was just whetting my appetite and talking to the locals.  But, when I got to the Lemonade, I was ready.  Not quite the umbrella drink I imagined, this thing had a refreshing taste and a kick.  Yes, sign me up.  Hook, line, etc.  A little stronger than wine and $16 for 2L, move over asparagus.

I couldn't leave it alone though.  I wanted a fizz, it needed a fizz.  I poured some into a spare fizzy water bottle, attached my nifty Carbonator Cap and pumped about 40 psi into it from my 20 pounder in the basement brewing facility, chilled and ...


This one time I'll let you ask me about my affairs

Weekends are low 'n slow, proper fuel, execution, temperature monitoring - serious bbq.  Weekdays are a bit different.  We pull a few shortcuts which we'd rather not disclose.  Shameful shortcuts.  But this one time, I'll share.

Tonight, I knew I'd get home a bit late, so I had the game plan rehearsed:

  • marinate chicken in spices and oil
  • make dipping sauce: yogurt, lemon juice, scant crushed garlic, tahini, salt, mint
  • chop, season and skewer vegetables 
  • confession: toss Match Light into kettle with a match - whooosh (sound of the ozone escaping)
  • skewer chicken (See those ultra cool saber-like Sadaf skewers?  Mediterranean Imports - the flat blade enables easier turning.)
  • grill direct with the top down
  • let cooked flesh rest
  • eat

Not  bad for a quick meal.  Served with some short grain brown rice.


Been a busy couple weeks, once in a while, I ran into the kitchen ...

Grilled tilapia and brown rice for dinner.  I tried roasted napa cabbage as the veggie. A light sprinkle of sesame oil, salt and 450°F for 15 minutes.  Not bad, the crunchy bits were a nice contrast, but don't know if I'd do it again.  I'm in a veggie slump.  Need a Greener Grocer fix.
For the past 24 hours, my kettle's been about 225-300°F.  Cooked a butt and smoked some almonds (see below).  Had the pulled pork on homemade corn tortillas with salsa and a bit of cheddar and pintos on the side.  Absolute heaven.
Across the ravine, a resident has a cherry tree about to go ripe.  We want them ALL.  The Mrs - pies, me - dried.  I'm contemplating a deal where we take them and return to her a batch of lovely dried cherries.
Menu In Progress is a cool site.  They make special foods that appeal to me very much.  I tried their recipe for smoked almonds (linked).  The only problem is they don't last very long.  My qa effort has taken quite a toll on the final yield.
Weilands Gourmet Market has some killer melons.  Go get one while they last.
Saucisson: 18 days: White, fuzzy, cute, more firm.  I'm getting a little bit antsy waiting to see if my best run yet is my best run yet.  Maybe another 2 weeks??


Temperature probe repair (works!)

The simple Taylor probe thermometer is an inexpensive and versatile piece of equipment.  I have a bunch of them.  It's the thing labeled as TruTemp (a knockoff) on the left in the above image.  The temperature probe, not certain if it's a true thermocouple, fits a variety of devices and is capable of cold temps to about 490°F. However, these things fail a lot and are too pricey to replace; cost as much as the entire two piece unit to replace.  What happens to these, if they get immersed (for an extended) period in water, is they stop working or read consistently low or high.
Andrew, unable to remember where he saw it, recollected these probes could be reconditioned by immersing them in hot oil.  Too lazy to wade through all the noise that would attend any search including the keyword probe, I set out to investigate.

I hypothesized that maybe at the juncture of the braided wire and the metal probe, some moisture may have been sucked in upon cooling, thus altering the measurement.  I immersed the probe, including that boundary of braded metal sheath, in 300&degF vegetable oil.  For about ten minutes, I noticed a steady gurgling as water being expelled from the deepest darkest bowel of the probe (no way I'm going near Google with these terms).  Once the gurgling stopped, I removed the probe, cleaned off the oil and checked the temperature of a 70°F bath of water and ambient air temp; it was spot on (corroborated with another insta read).  The Taylor type unit lasts forever and now, I'm feeling better, because the probes are likely more robust than I knew.  Thanks Andrew for the tip.  Saves me a bunch of cash and I get to reuse my old Taylors.  I despise the throw-a-way aspect of our society.


Good run so far

I'm trying really hard to resist excessive use of the expression 'my sausage' in this post, but, you should see it!  We're about a week into a run that went the best so far, despite a few complications.  I really liked using the beef middles for stuffing, it was nice to work with a casing not so susceptible to tangling and generally irritating performance.  The big problem in this run resulted from being too conscientious of air pockets in the meat.  This will kill the cured sausage final product.  That concern manifested in overly stuffed sausage in which the casings kept bursting.  So much so, that I could not hang them without tearing the casing.  So I ended up laying them on their side atop stackable cooling racks.  They are sitting in a cooler with a slush of salt and water in the bottom and covered - about 85% relative humidity and low 60s in there now.  I sprayed them with the mold suspension and voilá.  Luxuriate in that creamy white fuzziness!  Keep you posted of further developments. About 3 weeks to go.


Another run of saucisson sec, part I

I've had limited success with Ruhlman's Charcuterie recipe for saucissson sec.  Certainly no fault of the process described in the sacred tome, just my inexperience.  Today, I'm older, wiser, have a daughter who explodes with giggly delight to help rather than hinder ... it's all coming together.  Got my environment set, large beef casings, mold and nothing better to do on the sabbath, so I decided to take my ground pork (grinding is always done on the eve of the sabbath) and stuff it into beef casings.
I finally broke down and got a piston-type stuffer.
Frankie could operate this thing no sweat!

Beef middles, ca. 62-65 mm from Butcher-Packer.com  Suggested for use
by the good people at Menu in Progress.

Rinsed the beef middles a lot with water to remove some of the smell and salt.

Stuffed the piston with the spiced pork (garlic, s&p, cure #2)
Only used about 120 grams of casings for the 5 lbs.

With Frankie at the helm, stuffing went swimmingly.  NO AIR pockets in the sausage.
Only problem is we stuffed a bit too tight.   Don't know how to regulate that.

Stuffed, sectioned into little guys (for a small meal) and sprayed with a
suspension of Mold 600.  Ruhlman (by personal communication on Twitter) said mold
could be sprayed on/inncoulated on the casing anytime.  Thanks!
Final product before curing.  Cool Huh?

Now they rest in 70-80% relative humidity and low 60s.
At the really big risk of showing this post before the final goods are in, I'm crossing
my fingers and will give updates as the mold forms, etc.  Wish me luck.
Menu in progress, saucisson sec post, thanks!
Me:When do I  spray on mold?  Ruhlman: whenever you want to!
My first attempt
My dog ate it.