Cutting Down on Dishes

Leah and I are profoundly lazy people during the work week. It might have something to do with the chaotically busy nature of our work lives, or bad parenting, but what it comes down to is we let things stack up. Like dishes…

Hey, that is some of the Mint Salt that I made last time.

To that end we have (read; Leah has) come up with a great idea: the fewer dishes we have, the smaller the stack. So we have cut down. Two dinner plates, two salad plates, two bowls, a handful of cups and mugs and the rest went into storage. Well, not deep storage. They are close enough that we can supply service ware to guests, but they are packed far enough away that we will not go for them when we are peckish. Remember; we are lazy.

Watermelon Sorbet
Speaking of lazy, I am bringing watermelon sorbet back around. Summer is peaking its sunny head out at us and I couldn’t resist buying a watermelon. Though I have a dark secret; I don’t like fresh watermelon. Spitting seeds is all well and good, but the texture does not work for me. I like the flavor, just not the sponge-full-of-water texture; hence making sorbet. Leah and I just turned an eight pound melon into almost two gallons of sorbet. I doubt it will last long.

This is a ratio more than a recipe, it would be cruel to send you out for an exactly eight and a half pound to make the recipe work. 10 oz is what fits in my food processor (11 cup) without spewing juice all over the kitchen, learned that the hard way…

For every 10 oz of Watermelon cut into 1 in cubes
You need 4 oz Sugar
3/4 oz Champagne Vinegar
1/2 oz Vodka, the cheap stuff will do just fine
1 tsp Salt

-Liquefy the watermelon in a food processor or blender and pass it through a strainer into a large bowl or pot*.
- When all of the melon is in the pot add all of the other ingredients and combine with a hand blender until all of the sugar is dissolved.
-Chill the mixture in the fridge for at least an hour, but over night is better.
-Churn the sorbet in your ice cream maker according to their instructions.
-Freeze your fresh sorbet in the freezer for an hour to firm up the texture… or eat it right out of the machine.

This will be consumed before it would spoil, but the flavor will be best within two weeks.

* I used a three gallon pot.

Spring Cleaning

The time has come, the blogger said,
to give away many things.
Like shoes and shirts and video games
and garbage cans and things
and why the hell do I have so much stuff
oh the troubles hoarding brings.

Ok, I am not a hoarder. It just finishes my riff on Lewis Carroll nicely. On the other hand Leah and I have just donated (rid our house) of a trunk load of stuff. It is very liberating.

image

Leah and I spent a couple of hours combing the house. Riffling through our many bookshelves and shaking out our closets. Combing through our glassware and various piles of kitchen gadgetry. It was not easy. I, being a brainwashed consumer American, am very attached to Stuff. Not really anything in particular anymore, but the idea of having Stuff and having space to put that Stuff. I doubt that I am ready to break that chain yet, though I guess admitting I have a problem is half the battle.

I guess what we were really doing was finding room for more cookbooks… it will never stop.

Herb Salt
I first learned about herb salt at the Quillisascut Farm School back in the summer of ’09 and then promptly forgot about it. Fast forward to April of this year and I was reintroduced to the concept by the Faviken* cookbook and shortly there after got to use the idea with a surplus of lovage. This is a great way to use the herbs that you are spring tidying in your vegetable plots. I am looking at you mint.

Makes: as much as you want.

Combine equal parts herb of choice and kosher salt, by weight, in a food processor and pulse until uniformly mulched. Store the salt in an air tight container and use as a part for part as a kosher salt replacement in your favorite recipes.

*This recipe is loosely based on Faviken’s.

Well Hello Again

Well it has been WAY too long. I am sorry for that. I’d like to say that I have been doing something cool or serious and important, but really Leah and I have been watching Mythbusters with our little spare time.

That is in the process of changing now… well not the prodigious amount of TV we are watching but how much off time I now posses. I have just started working in a new restaurant and in so doing rid myself of a commute that was basically an unpaid part time job*. So please expect more frequent content in the future!

RAMEN!!!Breaking the Silence Ramen

1 tin of sardines
1 package Ramen
1/2 c frozen peas
1/2 c frozen corn
1 tbsp butter

1. Heat cast iron grill pan or skillet on medium-high until it is stupidly hot. A good indicator of the pan being ready is your fire alarm going off or a drop of water jumping off the pan. Sear sardines on on each side for a minute and then set them aside.
2. While heating the pan set about cooking the ramen as per the instructions on the package with the addendum of reducing the water by 1/4 and the spice packet by half, and adding the peas and corn with the noodles.
3. Top the ramen with the sardines and butter**.

* At least three hours a day, five days a week.
**trust me, butter and ramen is awesome!

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Leah and I love sushi. It is one of the few things that we splurge on. For the most part we go to a small conveyor-belt place near our favorite movie theater. But just recently we really pulled out the stops and got an omakase at Mashiko* in West Seattle.

Our sushi excursion and the recent acquisition of a netflix subscription found me watching the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi(JDoS).

JDoS is a documentary about Jiro Ono, at 80 the oldest man to receive three Michelin stars, his restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro and his oldest son Yoshikazu Ono. Well those are the main interests anyway, you know how documentaries are with all the interviews and such.

I don’t really like this movie. It highlights Japan’s broken food system, especially in regards to their fisheries, without advocating for or even recognizing that there should be a change. There is just grim acceptance of the appalling state of the ocean. The tuna scenes in the Tskiji fish market are downright depressing. It is hard to see hundreds of beautiful hamachi laying on the floor of a warehouse and not remember that extinction looms closer every day for that fish.

Now for the we are the world moment: The food choices that we are making now has a direct effect on the sea life that will be available to the next generation. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has produced (and maintains) a guide to sustainable sea foods**, with recommendations to which fish to avoid to allow stocks time to repopulate. We do not have to accept the dwindling life in our seas with resignation, it is time to fight back.

I ended up watching this movie four times looking for something, anything to like. With all of the buzz this movie drew while it was in town I felt that there had to be something in it that I could latch on to, and there was. Albeit a very small thing. The notion of shokunin, an ever evolving master of their chosen craft. Every cook in some capacity aspires to be a shokunin; prep faster, chop more efficentily, make every recipe better with subtle tweaks. A true shokunin never allows himself/herself the luxury of becoming comfortable in their work, constant progress for progresses sake.

It does however bug me that this documentary does not have an ending. Don’t get me wrong, the movie does stop and the credits roll but it does not have a third part. The beginning is there as well the middle, but no ending. As I said the movie just stops, and the credits roll…

*I am not going to formally review the restaurant as I don’t want that to become my schtick, I’ll give you a haiku instead.
If you enjoy fish
Rice as well as veggies
Mashiko is for you.

**You can get them for your Android or iPhone.

Drink the Beer: Tablero Edition

Leah and I had so much fun with the last Mystery Pack that we decided to have another… with an M. Night Shama-lama-ding-dong twist; this time we played a drinking game!

Wheee!

As it is/was the only drinking I know, we played Tablero.

Tablero is a drinking board game that was invented by some Giant geeks in the SCA*. All you need to play the game is a chess board (preferably a cloth one you don’t mind getting beer on), seven shot glasses, two dice and beer. The rules are laid out very well here. Print out a copy as you will need to refer back to them when you are into your cups, and something to mop up when you knock them over.

I learned how to play this game while on a Geek related trip to Canada. The Ring Lord, a chainmaille bits & bobs manufacturer, has an annual customer appreciation weekend geekout that I attended at the age of 19 (for those keeping score, that was seven years ago). It was so cool! There was sword fighting, tating, chainmaille making, yoga, and Tablero. A jubilation of Tablero was played.

When played in a competitive manor a game of Tablero can take a while. Leah and I were a little more on the coporative side and ended up draining the six-pack in an hour and a half.

Here is what we thought about the beers:

Rogue Hazelnut Brown
L: “It is like Frangelico and Budweiser had a child that no one likes.”
R: ” Nice and chocolate milky.”

Full Sail IPA
L: “Not bad for an IPA. A touch skunky though.”
R: “Delicious… for an IPA. Very low hop profile.”

Anderson Valley Belk’s ESB
L: “Tastes like bile!”
R: “Very pleasant. Nice nippy bitterness.”

Leinenliugel’s Berry Weiss
L: “Tastes like the strawberry candies banks give away.”
R: “Simple and sweet, good for beer novices.”

Deschutes Brewery Inversion IPA
L: “It is bland except for the bitter.”
R: “Another run of the mill IPA.”

Franziskaner Weissbier
L: “Mmm, Banana Bread.”
R: “Yeasty and light, tastes like bananas.”

This is a great way to end up snockered in an evening, especially playing round robin style with friends. I plan on playing this again soon!

BIG FOOTNOTE: Hey, don’t drive drunk. Get a cab or something, ok?

SECOND BIG FOOTNOTE: Kids, save the drinking games for when you are grown up. Go play Call of Duty or something…

*Society for Creative Anachronisms, also known as Giant Renascence Geeks.

Notes:
- Spending time with old friends really helps put things into perspective, it was nice running into you.
- What happened to the Twinky scandal of 20-12? I feel like I got left out of the loop…
- This tapped our knowledge of drinking games, how about you suggest some for us to try?!