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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Bake’em hot!

I have to say that I consider most of American foods bland. While I am not like some members of the Mexican cuisine tradition (including many, many grandmas) that would go around every dish saying “It needs more chile!”, “It’s not spicy enough” and so, but really a lot of the food around here could use a little kick. And that’s what excited me about these pork chops from the Virginia Hunter Gatherers which is all about the spices.

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In my pestle I put garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, paprika and chili pepper and mortared the heck out of them.

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I rubbed the pork chops (from the new meat delivery system I’m trying out, Locavore Delivery in Denver and ziploc-ed them overnight. Actually a couple of nights, I forgot

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Using my roommates’ smaller griddle I seared them both sides (a couple minutes each) and then baked them for a good half an hour at 350F.

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I served them with steamed broccoli because I had just steamed broccoli, but I’m pretty sure a green salad works wonders with them too. I also used leftover pork and cabbage to make a lunch salad (of which I didn’t get a picture. It’s not like I instagram ALL of my food

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!

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

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Fried, in batches.

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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!

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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.

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Mine was spicy as hell.

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

Smoking hot

If possible, I try to keep my expenses on meat and chicken within the six dollars per pound limit. That way I can afford a little more. For grass fed beef that usually means to wait for sales or get my box at SunPrairie or shop around for deals. For chicken it just means waiting for someone to have an organic cut for sale. Like Alfalfa’s whole legs.

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Thighs (though skinless and boneless) are another of Melissa Joulean’s suggestions as prep food. I, however, decided to use her recipe as a whole meal instead. I split the thighs and legs. I should definitely get a boning knife at some point, between eating whole fryers and cases like this I’m gonna end up destroying my Chef’s knife.

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I used paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne, generously. Then I baked for almost an hour at 350F in order to get them crispy and gorgeous. I used the griddle.

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In order to make it a whole meal I used some of the veggies I prepped. Carrots and broccoli are a good addition to this.

Salmon croquettes

A quick and cheap way to introduce fish in any diet is via canned fish. Whether it is tuna, salmon or sonething else, it is usually good quality and relatively inexpensive. I’ve always associated canned fish with one of two things: salads or croquettes. In this case it will be salmon in the latter.

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Opening the can, flaking the fish, adding chopped onion, cilantro, mustard, and two beaten eggs in order to form the paste. Using coconut flour to dry the mixture if too moist.

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Making the croquettes (in this case patties), frying them in ghee, not crowding them (I did three at the time)

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Choosing a good salad to go with it, maybe topping them with crème fraîche, adding some cauliflower rice leftover from another meal.

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Quite simple, ain’t it? Recipe from The Primal Blueprint Cookbook

Kitchen Sink Frittatta

I love frittattas. They are easy to make, they are not as much hassle as omelettes are, and they are perfect for cleaning out the fridge, like I an doing right now since I’m moving to a new place.

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In this case I am using some chard, tomatoes, onions, chicken (not pictured) and salt and pepper to taste. I chop everything up.

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My frittattas tend to be with six eggs. I can eat that in one sitting, maybe two. The eggs go beaten, by the way.

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I cook everything but the eggs in butter. There has to be enough butter, otherwise when the eggs come up there will not be enough fat and they’ll stick. I use cast iron because I like to finish it in the broiler.

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I add the eggs, let it cook for a little bit, not too much. And then we puff it in the broiler.

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Full, complete and easy meal in simple steps. Helps to clean out the kitchen too! OMNOMNOM.
One good source to learn about frittattas is Alton Brown’s TV show, Good Eats. Guess what? Available on youtube (not official, though)