spent grain bread

Recent activities here at the ranch have conspired to yield me a bunch of unused grain.  Malted barley and rye are particularly abundant.  Here's a way to use a little of the extra (stored in the freezer, it ferments fast!).

water, 300 g
veg oil, 10 g
sugar, 10 g
yeast, Fleischmann's fast, pkt
unbleached white, Montana Sapphire 220 g
whole wheat, Stutzmann Farms, 50 g
hydrated spent grain, barley/rye 30 g
sunflower seeds, roasted 30 g
rolled oats, 30 g
flax seed, 30 g

Straight dough method, divided dough in two pieces, shaped and proofed as boules, baked 400F for about 40 minutes.


Merguez and chickpea stew

I don't usually post what I ate last night, but I don't want to forget this one.  I took a bunch of merguez out of the casing, sauteed it slowly to render the fat.  Then I removed the meat from the pan.  To the wonderfully spiced fat, I added a little more olive oil, a bunch of slivered onion and cauliflower, some stock, tomato paste and braised until the cauliflower was tender.  I then added a can of chickpeas and about a cup of currants and then added the meat back in.  The entire mixture was then simmered gently until dinner, about an hour.  Really, really good, a keeper.

I like sausage a lot! When it becomes part of a dish like this, the seasoning is completely provided by the meat.  I dislike stuffing immensely, so I'll probably start making it more often and keep it in bulk.

Re: Merguez availability
Around Columbus: Mediterranean Food Imports has merguez, it's adequate, not great.  I asked Whole Foods if they had it and they said to ask ahead and they'd make it, but I never followed up.  My advice would be to find a lamb shoulder, grind it and make your own.  After you hunt down a lamb shoulder, the rest of the ingredients are easy to find.


meyer lemon marmalade

I usually don't write up this kind of stuff, but I like this formula and don't want to forget. I saw some meyer lemons the other day and couldn't believe how soft their skin was, I grabbed a couple. I chopped them up removing only the central-most membrane and white stuff. The rest, skin, pith and all was finely diced (I chopped up 2 lemons). The lemons (128 g), sugar (128 g) and about 500-700 mL water placed in a sauce pan to barely simmer until it glopped like a lava swamp (about 2 hours). Then I poured it in a jar. It's pretty  awesome.

So equal weight sugar and citrus (I've done an orange before using this as well) and enough water, replenishing if necessary, to allow a 2-3 hour gradual simmer/concentration and marmalade.


Basic Foods: Authority Posts

Too often I want a quick prep and don't want to read - I just want to cook.  My goto places are: Ruhlman's Ratio, SimplyRecipes.com by Elise, 101CookBooks.com, CookingLight.com and a few others.

Additionally, I decided to tally up my favorite foods and posts for future reference.  The following preps have become part of my family's repertoire of staple foods.  Feel free to suggest more in the comments.  I'll keep adding to this over time (it's a sloppy alphabetic listing).

Bacon Manifesto by Andrew, a well-read and adventurous chef 
Cauliflower roasted with Israeli couscous 
French Fries by Kenji (haven't been able to reproduce yet, but looks promising)
Greens by @Twixlen 
Pulled Pork on a Weber Grill (instructables sequence) by grillmaster Mike


Cherry Smoked Bacon (or more product placement than Apple in Starbucks)

Warning: This post features oodles of product crap and not one of the product-producing bastards gave me a nickel.

For xmas, the wife gave me a Smoke Daddy smoker offset box. A well-machined bit of aluminum and steel made to fit into a chamber with hand-tight fittings via a 7/8" dia hole. The smoke comes from wood and today I'm using Traeger smoking pellets hoping to get a longer smoking session without having to do more than sip beer and stare at it. I used plain old chips off the shelf, but they burned too quickly. The pellets I got for just under a buck a pound were just what this rig needed.  One charge of 200 grams of pellets goes for 3-4 hours.  The line into this thing (that blue line) is hooked to a small aquarium pump. This is necessary to keep the combustion going, the lit pellets will suffocate without a perk of air. I'll try slowing the flow of air to get a few more hours out of it.

So that's it, see below for a few action shots. I prepped my pork belly according to Saucisson Mac's bacon manifesto and tossed it on.  I especially like Saucisson Mac's thoughts on a solution brine rather than a solid/surface salting, more uniform and faster to get the belly cured.

The stainless steel cylinder that extends my kettle into a pseudo Smoky Mountain isn't sold anymore.  However, the smoke from this thing could be pumped into a wooden box or pretty much any chamber you can drill a hole into, the receiving chamber isn't hot.

I put the pellets in and lit it with a brief zap of a propane torch like the instructions suggested, capped it off and started the aquarium pump.

My pork belly, about 2.5 lbs.  This is where economies of scale scream "MORE BACON."  The brining of a pork belly is easy; that chamber has two racks of space and given how fast I gave away the last batch, I should've made pounds and pounds.  Fear not, you may see xmas gifts that bear some resemblance.

After searching throughout Columbus, I gave up and found my cherry pellets at Amazon (isn't that sad, to get a fuel source from Amazon?)  They are a nicely manufactured product though, perfect for this type of apparatus.

See through the door?  That's me sipping whiskey and strumming my banjo.

fin, tomorrow's breakfast will be special.