Cooking engineering

I’m back! Well, that depends on how much I manage to stabilize my working schedule, but I should be back into writing something a bit more periodical and not that far apart.

Jerky is one of the things I’ve been wanting to make on my own for a while because it’s a good snack. It has protein, it has fat, it is portable and it tastes delicious, depending on what was used to marinate it. However, most storebought jerkys include a lot of ingredients that are not compliant with the Ancestral Health or Paleo diets, which means they are usually off the list.

The concept of this dehydrator (from The Dirty Carnivore is actually a pretty simple one: a lamp in a box. The idea is to create a warm environment, hot enough to drive air out and with it the humidity of the meat inside. Against what most people would think, you don’t need the air inside (or the meat) to reach 212F: just like a puddle of water ends up evaporating due to the air taking the water away, so does this system work. Therefore, you only need a lamp to create the movement.

This was cheap. Really cheap. The most expensive bits were the worklight and the PVC pipes. It was also really easy to make: it took me most of thirty minutes, and that was mostly because I’m rubbish with a pair of scissors. And the jerky was friends and roommates approved!


How to tell if a pepper is gonna kill your taste buds

A lot of people hate to devein and deseed peppers. And it’s understandable, because it burns. As a matter of fact, a good way to know if your dish is gonna end up spicy is how much does the spice bother you when dealing with it. If it’s a little bit, your dish will be spicy but manageable. If it’s a bit more, well, it’ll be more spicy. In my case? I was bloody sneezing everywhere!

Just like yesterday, a whole chicken, cut up. But this time, with salt and pepper.

Fried, in batches.

And now we fry the dried chiles. In this case I used Mirasol, because it was what I had in hand, but the recipe from my grandma’s cookbook called for Chipotle. Since I interchange those two whenever I’m making enchiladas, I said whatever.
However, cleaning up those suckers had me crying and sneezing and swear I almost bled out of my nose. I’m joking, I’m joking!

Something that you have to be really careful about is frying the chiles: since they are dry, they will more easily burn up. Just like it happened to me. After frying the chiles you return the fried chicken to the pot, add chicken stock, salt, pepper and epazote (if available, you can find it at Whole Foods or at any Mexican grocer) and let it stew until tender.

Mine was spicy as hell.

Cooking in batches

One of the main advantages of buying a whole chicken is that you get quite a bang for your buck. I mean, with ten bucks I got all this!

It’s been a long journey from the guy who couldn’t hold a knife well to the one who managed to cut that up in five minutes. I still need to bring it down to three.
Anyways, I am doing chicken this week because I need to save money because I spent a lot becaue I am going to a show. It’s my splurge – well, that and food. But the food happens everyday so I guess it’s not a splurge? Wait, I’m deviating to another subject again, aren’t I? Where was I?
Ah, chicken.
So I cut this guy up in pieces and salted it. And fried it in coconut oil.

Another thing that I’ve learned is that it is almost never good to crowd a pan. A small tour of my previous posts will show you that is something I use used to do a lot, but I am getting better at it. Smaller batches to ensure everything cooks uniformly instead of a big blob that may have cold spots. After I fried the chicken I introduced a sliced onion

and sauteed till golden. I returned the chicken, added a couple cups of chicken stock, some thyme, more salt and let it boil like there was no tomorrow.

Because for the chicken there wasn’t. Also, best served with greens.

Recipe from my mom. She cooks. Every once in a while. Love you mom!

Emulating expensive tastes

So, like I rambled last week, I don’t consider myself a chef, not even a cook. But sometimes, necessity forces you to experiment in order to sustain yourself. After all, they say she’s the mother of all inventions.

So I carved a chicken and just like for the paella, I sprinkled it generously but with turmeric and pepper, and just a dash of paprika. I wanted a more intense flavor this time. Besides, I felt like using that bottle of turmeric I got when I had to substitute Safrron in a Recipe for Rice and Eggs (since it’s not Paleo I haven’t posted it here, but I may upload pictures of it on the Facebook page). Again, I left it in the fridge for a couple hours, and fried it in coconut oil. I changed it to a baking sheet and baked it for 20 minutes (I love my oven-resistant thermometer!) until cooked. While the chicken was baking I deglazed the pan with chicken stock, and added some tapioca to thicken the sauce. Since some clumps did form I had to strain it. I served it over a bed of arugula salad.

Cooking with scraps

So after turning a pound of almonds into almond milk, I had almost a pound of almond pulp. What to do, what to do? I wasn’t gonna throw it away, not with the price of almonds!

Thankfully Elana offers a solution: turn them into crackers! I mixed some of the pulp with flaxseed meal, thyme and salt, and some grapeseed oil to add consistency, and pressed it!

It’s round because that’s the shape of my roommate’s dehydrator. A day later at 105F I ended up with these beauties:

And I haven’t even used a quarter of the pulp I have. Boy I’m gonna have so many crackers!

Getting rid of greens

So my CSA is dying. I only have two more pick ups, and I am still deciding whether to retake it, look for another one or just forego it for next year (not the eggs, though, I’m SO getting those). One thing I always got, whether it rained or shined, were greens. And it has been a creative stress on my mind to try and come up with different ways to cook them!

Thankfully my mom’s cookbooks come to the rescue. In this case was a simple steaming in water. However, the trick was the lemon sauce.

Coconut flour in butter, then lemon juice and water. Be careful thouhg, it’s pretty easy to burn up the coconut flout (I did twice before I got the sauce right). It’s better to work in a really low fire, and even remove from the fire a bit when adding it. And make sure no lumps are formed!

Thrift shopping

I’ve said that sometimes it can be frustrating to cook with some of my family’s cookbooks, since they tend to have ingredients that are not readily available. Sometimes the opposite happens, and the books honor their titles: And food was done… cheaply. This liver dish was less than five ingredients and I had all of them already in hand, so how much did I spend? NOTHING.

I started with a lamb liver that I got at the Farmer’s Market a while ago and been sitting there in my freezer. I sliced it up thinly (relatively) and also chopped some onions.

Fried the onions first in some coconut oil, and then added the liver.

When all the exteriors looked cooked and not raw, I added some bay leaves and a cup of white wine, and let it cook for a while, until almost all the wine evaporated.

Not even one dime spent, and the plates were cleaned up afterwards. By people who had sworn to me that they would never eat liver.