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+++Enter At Your Own Risk+++ At the gentle nudging (I said gentle y'all) of a few friends, I have started these blogs in order to share my culinary goings-on and daily misadventures through my own brand of humor (ok, sarcasm). I just write about stuff! At 50, I have learned that living has gotten in the way of life - and I am going to blaze my own personal trail to fun (hopefully)! If it is feminine, great. If it is not, so much the better! Hopefully fun that does not land me in jail............

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pickled Eggs and Red Beets from Cooks.com

Oh yea!

Last week, New Years Day actually, I made a half-gallon canning jar worth of pickled eggs and beets with onions.  Yes, to this recipe below I added slices of raw onion. 

Pickled eggs are not everyone’s cup of tea. I learned I liked them only a few years ago. They are a good way to preserve boiled eggs so you can boil a lot at one time and then eat them over a few weeks' time. I refrigerate mine. Some people say you don't need to. I prefer to refrigerate anyway or at least place jar in a cold room.

What is a "cold room" exactly?  When I was growing up, my grandmother had one bedroom where she kept foods that would benefit from being kept cooler, but would not fit in the refrigerator.  Shocking as this may seem to the city folk and the young'uns, refrigeration is a luxury that was not available to everyone even only 50 years ago...

I decided to make pickled eggs and here we are…

I doubled this recipe basically – save for the two boiled eggs that did not peel well.

Problem?  I cannot find which recipe I used. Below are the items I used, but no clue of the amounts. So, I guess I do not have to worry about making this one again unless I run across it on the Internets!

16 Hard Boiled Eggs
2 pints cider vinegar
Bay leaves
The juice from large can red beets

I boiled all my eggs. There are things one needs to know when boiling eggs in a way that will allow them to be peeled more easily.
  • Choose older eggs – still good but not straight from the hen fresh
  • Place eggs in enough cold water in a pot that they are covered
  • Bring eggs to a light boil, place a lid on the pot and turn the eye off. Let sit 20 minutes
  • Pour off the water, crack each egg and run cold water over them
  • Don’t burn yourself

Boil all other (non-egg) ingredients for 10 minutes (full boil). I poured over the hard boiled eggs, the added onions and red beets in a half gallon canning Mason jar and tightened down the two part lid.

Refrigerate. Lightly shake jar every few minutes to evenly coat all the eggs.

Now, lesson learned here?
First, blanch or cook the onions before pickling. The onions in my jar have continued to mature. They are chewy and almost dry. Not unlike the exterior dryer layers we typically peel off.
Second, not all recipes work out for the best.  This one is too bland for me.

For a starter recipe, it works. For anyone not used to pickled eggs – it is mild enough. 

I will try another one 

Homemade Bagels Really Do Taste Better!!!

As I sit here at the kitchen table trying to type this out before the battery goes dead on my laptop, I wonder how much of this bread flour puffed down between the keyboard keys as I was creating bagels this morning… Sorry SKW – you might need to clean my laptop!

News Flash:  Hand rolled water bagels really are easy and really are worth the effort!

On HubPages.com I found this recipe by googling & I am so glad I did! This John D. Lee person knows his stuff!
If you are interested in bagel history – check this link out: http://www.foodreference.com/html/fbagel.html
Otherwise, let’s talk about MY bagel experience today!!!
So, I woke up to a few inches of snow on the ground this morning.  It is probably good that work was eventually called off for the day due to the weather since I could not sleep for nadda last night!  Stayed up until 1:30a like I am an idiot.  Needless to say I stayed in bed late since we originally were on a 2 hour delay.  By the time I went out to shovel the car and go – work had been called off. I decided I was going to be a big girl in my little Honda Civic and go drive around.  Hahahahahaha!  The best layed plans of mice and men… Not happening. I made it out and onto the main highway thinking I could go to town.  Uh, the road was mostly white and it was slippery. That mile’s worth of incline was not happening at 9:30a. It was not happening until 2:00p. I turned around in the middle of the main road and went back to my house.  Now, I should have had my jumbo-tron truck for getting around, but ex and I had issues (read as an argument) about who was going to have the truck for this morning. As luck would have it, he is still stuck at his house because he won’t drive even the truck down.
I instantly experienced ‘cabin-fever’ and had to find something to do. So, since I had purchased bread flour and yeast to make bagels a few weeks ago, but kept putting off making them, I figured it was time!
Apparently good bagels are made using a 2-stage cooking process: Boiling then Baking.  All I know is I am NO baker. I do not make bread (yet) nor do I make cookies and the like.  I will work on that later however.
Now, being that I still do not have all my cooking equipment – as there simply is no room here for all my goodies – I was at a bit of a loss. Where are the mixing bowls?  Where is the sugar? The vegetable oil is what? Then came the ultimate question from a woman (read as ‘me’) who claims to not really go for gadgets and electrical devices (in the kitchen, for cooking. Shut-up and stop laughing). “Mom, how do I mix this dough without my Kitchenaid mixer with dough hooks?”  Yes, I asked THAT question.  Mom’s answer?  “The same way we have always done it prior to electrical devices; with a spoon in a mixing bowl.”  Yea, no humor, she just delivered that answer so flatly. 
I followed the below recipe. It is simple, to the point. I figured out a few things I need to know for the next time.  Check it out.
Homemade bagel recipe
4 cups bread flour
1 Tbls sugar
1 1/2 Tsps salt
1 Tbls vegetable oil
2 Tsps instant yeast
1-1/4- 1-1/2 cups of warm water.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add in the oil and mix a bit. Next work in the warm water.  The dough should feel stiff, but you can add the extra water if it's really stiff, or you can't get all the dry flour incorporated.

Plop the dough down onto the counter, and knead for about ten minutes, or until the dough is uniform and smooth. I hate this part; raw dough under my nails. Gross.
Cut the dough into 8 equal sized balls, and let rest for 10-20 minutes. I suggest covering your balls with a warm damp cloth to prevent them from developing a dry exterior.  Yea, I know you are laughing if you are paying half an ounce of attention here. Anyway, if you end up with dry balls, dampen your hands to work the dough in the next step. Pre-heat your oven to 425. 

Take each of the dough balls, using two hands, roll into a long cigar on the counter. When the cigar is longer than the width of your two hands, wrap it around your dominant rolling hand. The dough rope should be wrapped so the overlapping ends are together at your palm, near the start of your fingers. Now take the two overlapping ends, and use your palm to squish/roll these two ends together. Once the dough ends are fused together, you should have an ‘almost-bagel’! More than likely your first ones will not be great. Mine got better as I worked my way through the balls.

While you prepare the pot of water and bring it to a boil, the bagels will sit and rise a bit.  Rub Crisco or oil on the baking pan you plan on using. I wanted to use my cured pizza stone, but I do not have IT here either. Blech…
By the time the water is boiling, your bagels should be puffier.  I suggest you only boil a single layer of bagels at a time to avoid over-crowding. Also, the bagels will grow even more, so leave a little room in the pot to allow for swelling.

Boil the bagels for approximately one minute, then turn over and continue to boil for an additional minute.
Carefully remove each bagel and place on a plate (I used a paper-towel) to dry a minute or so before placing on the baking sheet.
Double,double toil and trouble...
Work your way through all the bagels. 

Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and flip the bagels after 10 minutes and bake for another ten minutes.  Oh, you have no idea how good this is going to be.
Let them cool for at least 20 minutes, get the cream cheese or butter ready.  I buttered mine down and let the butter melt. MMMMMMMM!
Then, since I had that cabin-fever thing going on, I ventured out and the road was ok. I drove to OR and purchased lox, a lemon, sour cream, cream cheese, and etc.  Upon arriving back home, I sliced a cold bagel, loaded bites of it with the aforementioned goodies (plus balsamic pickled capers) and chowed down.  Good Stuff!

Now, the next bagels will include a dose of shredded sharp cheddar cheese in the dough. I am feeling that for sure.  John D. Lee notes that you can add any toppings you want. These include sesame, onions, poppy seed, caraway and etc.  I am thinking cinnamon sugar is a nice option as well.  The plan there is to take the boiled bagels out of the water and plop them face-down, while wet, in the topping, then place face-up on the baking sheet and go on with the baking process.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Kimchee Time

So how many ways are there to spell this? Kimchee, Kimshee, Kimchi, Kimshi? I have even seen Kim Shee. Kimchee refers mostly to fermented vegetables. It is a staple Korean dish. Obviously there are MANY recipes for Kimchee.

I have never cared one way or another about trying Kimchee until I visited my daughter in RI and we went to a wonderful Korean restaurant that served it as part of a appetizer set-up. I even made it through my years in the military without having tried it. For anyone who is military or former military - you will understand how making it out of the army without having tried Kimchee or cigarettes is pretty good!

Anyway, my daughter also made Kimchee while I was visiting and I did not get to taste it because it takes so long to ferment! What drew me to it was how pretty it looked and how easy the process seems to be.

I decided to try my hand at Kimchee. I googled a recipe, found a half gallon wide-mouth mason jar and went to town (literally). We have an asian food store called the Sunrise Market down on Kingston Pike. I located the Napa Cabbage and all the items I did not have readily available already at home.

Then I got tired....

It was two days that the cabbage sat in the kitchen, getting old. By the time I made the Kimchee, I had to cut away bad cabbage leaves and spots. I wasted a lot of cabbage. I will have to do better in the future.

The recipe below is easy and quick. I am currently on about day 6 and the Kimchee is mild and tasty.

Makes two quarts

One large Chinese or Napa Cabbage
One gallon (4l) water
1/2 cup (100g) coarse salt

one small head of garlic, crushed, peeled and finely minced
one 2-inch (6cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced (It was a bit much ginger for me)
1/4 cup (60ml) fish sauce
1/4 cup (80ml) chili oil or 1/2 cup Korean chili powder (I did not have the powder, so I used the oil I had)
one bunch green onions, cut into 1-inch (3cm) lengths (use the dark green part, too, except for the tough ends)
one medium daikon radish, peeled and grated
one teaspoon sugar or honey (I used sugar)

1. Slice the cabbage lengthwise in half, then slice each half lengthwise into 3 sections. Cut away the tough stem chunks.

2. Dissolve the salt in the water in a very large container, then submerge the cabbage under the water. Put a plate on top to make sure they stay under water, then let stand for 2 hours.

3. Mix the other ingredients in a very large metal or glass bowl.

4. Drain the cabbage, rinse it, and squeeze it dry.

5. Here’s the scary part: mix it all up.
Some recipes advise wearing rubber gloves since the chili paste can stain your hands.

6. Pack the kimchi in a clean glass jar large enough to hold it all and cover it tightly. Let stand for one to two days in a cool place, around room temperature.

7. Check the kimchi after 1-2 days. If it’s bubbling a bit, it’s ready and should be refrigerated. If not, let it stand another day, when it should be ready.

8. Once it’s fermenting, serve or store in the refrigerator. If you want, add a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds over the kimchi for serving.

Storage: Many people have advised to eat this kimchi within 3 weeks. After that, it can get too fermented. I would say that all depends on what you like.

Boy it compresses down...


Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New Year's Grub-On

“Nothing says holidays, like a cheese log”. ~ EDG

So for New Years this year I managed to get to go down to Market Square with my special Person for several hours. The weather was mild. There were a lot of people dressed for comfort and a surprising number of ladies dressed like street walkers. Now, anyone who knows me – really knows me – knows that I have a penchant for dressing a little, shall we say, ‘different’ at times. However, I know to dress for the weather and the location. Why would I want CFM pumps and a dress cut to “there” without at least a jacket or sweater in the winter? Maybe I was missing the booze?

Anywho, we managed to walk around, catch some great street music and eat good festival foods including FUNNEL CAKE! Hey, did you all know that funnel cake is good with cinnamon as well as powdered sugar and that “I” figured out that I DON’T like chocolate on them? I suggest you print this and use it as proof that I stated this, as I will not mention or admit to it again.

After walking around, eating and drinking, we decided to head out for a quieter venue. One meal and dessert was not enough. We ended up doing a round robin and heading to Chesapeakes after we figured out the Sunsphere was not happening publicly on New Year’s Eve. Hello crab-stuffed mushrooms, chocolate-chocolate cheesecake, sparkling wine and beer.

All this eating and I forgot I had the below selection of food as well as 12 beers to choose from after we were done wandering the streets… So, more eating was ahead of us.

After we returned to our room, I cut the cheeses (yea, I know I wrote that), meats and etc. and loaded up a little paper plate.  We realized we did not have proper glasses for the night’s chosen beer. When serving Infinium beer, a fine champagne glass is called for. It is unfortunate for me that I am funny about serving pieces, glass, silver, crystal, china, stainless and etc. I typically like to have exactly what is called for when serving a specific food item or have a right fine substitute that no one will dare call me on. Well, not to be waylaid, we went with a plastic disposable cup and moved on… You have to work with what you have on hand! We settled into the bed with food, drink and TV remote. Yea, I suppose we are comfortable enough to simply hang and ring in the New Year quietly – crumbs in bed and all.

Samual Adams worked for 2 years with Germany’s Weihenstephan brewery formulating this ground breaking beer brewed within the confines of Reinheitsgebot, the old German Beer Purity Law dating back to 1560, allowing only 4 ingredients with which to brew a beer from. The ingredients are water, malt, hops, and yeast. This beer is a spicy, fruity champagne like beer. Bubbly does not come close to describing it. The color is light gold in color and lighter in flavor.

The below came from a store in Providence RI called Farmstead

Farmstead Candied Nuts coated in honey and spices $20
I am not a big nut lover (yea, laugh all you want you dirty birds), but these little sticky nuts are pretty decent. They go very well with a cheese tray. Help mellow some stronger cheeses.

Pradera Netherlands 3 year old Gouda Pasteurized cow’s milk $24 a pound.
Slight crystallization. Strong tangy flavor. Very nice.

Montgomery’s Extra Mature Cheddar Somerset England made of raw cow’s milk $28 a pound.
Slightly more mellow than the Gouda, but still carries a nice nutty and fairly strong flavor. Also a great cheese. 

Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam Point Reyes CA pasteurized cow’s milk $34 a pound. Triple-cream cheese, spreads easily. Light flavor. Almost buttery. Great spread on light flavored crackers.

Cacciatorini Biellese sausage from the Biellese sheep. $27 a pound.
Somewhat chewy cured meat sausage. Lovely reds. Has a black pepper flavor note, yet no visible black pepper gracing in.

Dotterer’s Hot Pepper Jelly
Sweet yet HOT. Lights the sides and back of my tongue on fire. A lovely golden yellow color with red flecks throughout.   While I like it ok, I am not a huge fan. I did not find that it added or detracted from my above choice of cheeses.

Dotterer’s Cranberry Orange Confit
I do like this tangy condiment. Whole cranberries throughout. Strong orange jelly mixture. I did not find that it added or detracted from my choice of cheeses but did like it.

Gallettine Tuscan Crackers with extra virgin olive oil.
These simple crackers allow their flavorful passengers’ flavors shine through. The crackers are dry and dense. They have a slight flavor on their own, but so slight, they are a wonderful accompaniment to cheese and meat.

I am not a fancy ‘foodie’ by any means. I do like tasting foods however. I do not have the ‘foodie’ vocabulary but I do have opinion . I also seem to have some fairly keen gastrointestinal issues with many foods. It is unfortunate and annoying. One category I seem to have issues with is aged cheese. Blue cheese is not my friend.  Up side of this little cheesy couple event?  I survived mostly unscathed!
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