Saturday, November 25, 2006

Proof of life

(See previous post)


Leftover turkey, olive oil, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, fresh basil, balsamico, and fettucini. Dinner is served.

Tonight I ate around 10:30 at night. Late even for the Spanish, methinks. But it was a good meal, made in my kitchen and enjoyed at my table. 

Of course the best part of any meal is how it's enjoyed, or who it's enjoyed with. In this case, Anthony Bourdain. No, he wasn't at my house for dinner… but his book was. A few years old I think, "A Cook's Tour", made for a superb dinner companion. I've just started the book and his ramblings of how this adventure began is just brilliant. The mix of life, food, love of food, wine, sex, sheer enjoyment in a meal and the hunt for the perfect meal, is brilliant. Barely a chapter in and laughing out loud already, this man should be a writer.

Oh wait, he is.

Part of the pleasure of course comes from enjoying a glass or three of chianti with my meal and my readings. And mind you, not great chianti. No, the glass cost more than the bottle.


Friday, November 24, 2006

So what the HECK was that all about, you ask? Our little darling was apparently jumping on the bed, or doing flying bat-leaps, or whatever it is that 5 year old girls on too much sugar do when they are supposed to be going to sleep! She fell, hit her mouth, and cut a gnarly gash on the inside of her upper lip. It was a jagged cut that was quite deep and ran from just inside her lip, nearly all the way to the gum. Icky.

We got the bleeding to stop pretty quickly, but decided to take her to the ER at Good Samaritan anyway. Doctor pretty quickly determined it needed stitches. Ooh, that was fun.

As you can see from the previous post, she was strapped to a board and tied up like a papoose... like a mummy. Unfortunately you can't tell a 5 year old to hold still while you stick needles in her mouth, so she had to be tied down and held. Let me be the first to say that this is NOT a fun experience. What started as an uncomfortable squirm turned south to blood curdling screams as the Doc, who was really very nice and gentle, proceeded to shoot her lip full of numbing stuff and then stitch her up. The nurse had to hold her head, mom and I held her hands, ankles, whatever we could grab to try to comfort her. She got four stitches on the inside of her lip, and boy was she mad. I mean, MAD. Between the pain, the shock and the general anger at being tied up and stuck with needles and fish hooks, she was really, really pissed. Poor thing.

If anything good comes of this, maybe she wont be jumping on her bed anymore.

Trussed up turkey

Thursday, November 23, 2006

ER, not R&R!

Because no Thanksgiving would be complete without a trip to the ER, our little darling decided to act out her book "Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed..." and this little monkey fell down and cut her lip something fierce. Probably ok but better safe than sorry.

Ah. So.

Paraiso Pinot

Perfect with poultry, under $20

Oh... My... Yum

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Brined bird

I took it out a bit early, around 6 hours. It's now ready to sit in the fridge overnight and dry!
Because at least two people out there might be interested in this, here's the process I'm following for this brined bird for Turkey Day Dinner. First and foremost, organic, free range, is a must. Seriously folks, if you aren't getting enough hormones in your milk, beef, and other Safeway products, there's a guy in Mexico who can sort you out. "Just say no to drugs" is more than a nice slogan for the little kiddies.

I got our turkey at Whole Paycheck Foods, which normally is really pricey but always a good source for great food. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this particular organic, free-range, Diestel Turkey Ranch beastie was only about $3 per pound, so $30 for a 10 lb. bird. I'm sure that's a lot more than a butterball, but how often do you do this, really.

So, the brine. You want to do this a day before, because after it's brined you'll want to let it dry out in the fridge. Apparently the brining process make the skin so moist that it won't crisp up on the grill, and I don't know about you, but I think that a turkey without crispy skin is just wrong. And I say apparently because I've never done this before. So come with me on this little adventure!

There are over 1.2 million websites on brining your turkey, (seriously, check google) so I went with the ol' tried and true source of info, Cooks Illustrated. Avoiding any copyright naughtiness, I'll just tell you what I did here. I started with 6 quarts of water, really because that's all my pot would hold. I wanted 8, but figured 6 should do it. Per quart, I mixed 3 Tablespoons of Morton Kosher salt and 2 T of sugar (just C&H, no I didn't buy organic sugar, but I like to think I'm supporting the local economy... the C is for California, in case you were wondering. OK, now someone can tell me I'm wrong). Anyway on the stove it went, hot enough to dissolve the white stuff, a good stir and off the heat to cool. Then I dumped in a bunch of ice to cool it down faster.

First mistake... I used all my ice, which as I quickly discovered was a Bad Idea.

OK so with the solution cool (enough), I dropped the bird in the bag and dumped in the water. I quickly discovered that a bag that is big enough to hold a 20 lb bird means a LOT of empty space to fill when only 10 lbs of meat are present. No matter how I propped, tugged, or otherwise positioned the bag, I could not get the buggering thing submerged. So, back to the stove. Another 4 qts of water, salt, sugar... and no ice to cool it with. Oh well... patience is a virtue but I'm short on it, so after a short cooling session, in the rest of the water went. Pushing and prodding the bird in a bag into the drip pan I'll use later on the BBQ (oh you didn't think I was oven roasting this did you? Shame on you!) I got it sufficiently covered and crammed into the fridge.

I had to take my beer out of the fridge though to get the bird to fit. That's a crime in some states. But fit it did, where it will now sit for the next 8 hours. That's one hour per pound, not to exceed 8 hours, according to Cooks. Seems long, but I'll pull it out and rinse it before I go to bed tonight.

The next step will be drying, where the bird sits uncovered in the fridge overnight so the skin can dry out a bit. Or I suppose you could take it to chinatown and ask some restaurant to hang it in their window next to the ducks.

More later, unless I completely screw it up, in which case you'll hear nothing ;-)

I tawt I taw a putty tat!

Nice legs, darlin'

Bird to Brine

The start of a (hopefully) successful turkey dinner. Free range bird, kosher salt and sugar to brine, and naturally a good bottle of wine. For the cook, not the bird.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Scott's first time

Scott does his first Aperture demo at PhotoPlus