Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Not candy ass

So my kid wakes up Saturday, bounces down the stairs, retrieves The Joy of Cooking and starts makin' with the pots and pans.

"Whatcha makin' kid?" I ask.

"Chocolate pancakes," she says.

"Good on ya!" I say, then putter around with chores as she measures and sifts, melts and mixes. Cocoa, flour, milk, butter. Everything's humming along until she consults the open cookbook and her brow crinkles.

She's picks up the book and recites, "Beat until the peaks are stiff but not dry then fold into the batter: 2 large egg whites." She looks up at me, perplexed.

I exhale, think of getting out the beater and fooling around showing her how to separate the eggs and do I really want to hassle with this? Why did the kid have to pick such a pain in the ass recipe ...

Then images of prepackaged sauce mixes, boxed dinners and frozen pizzas fill my head and push away the grouch.

"Kid," I say, "that recipe is NOT candy ass. Now get two eggs and a small clean bowl."

* * *

French coffee presses are not candy ass.

Cast iron cookware is totally not candy ass.

Anything that starts with a roux? Not candy ass.

My K4-B KitchenAid mixer, which was manufactured in Troy, Ohio by Hobart in the late 1940s and weighs 23 pounds, is so not candy ass, it redefines not candy ass.


Pasta made from scratch is not candy ass, then it's more not candy ass.

Mortar and pestle: you make an aioli with a mortar and pestle? You just made an emulsion by hand. That is not candy ass.

A Chinois is not candy ass and a mandoline is not candy ass.

Making your own stock from bones, carcasses and shit like bay leaves is not candy ass.


Sriracha sauce is not candy ass.

Souffles are probably not candy ass, but I'm not sure because I never made one.

A jar of rendered bacon fat in the fridge Is. Not. Candy. Ass.

Knowing what is and what is not candy ass in the kitchen is not candy ass.

*  *  *

54 comments:

Dan said...

Is it candy ass if you make a fresh tomato sauce for your lasagna, even if you use canned tomatoes and premade pasta?

See, Daddy always hoped his boy wouldn't turn out candy-assed.

Joe said...

firing up the grill just to cook some brats for your lunch is not candy ass, I am pretty sure.

Is using Frank's canned sauerkraut as the side dish?

Erin O'Brien said...

Dan: HELL NO.

Joe: Sauerkraut is never candy ass. Anyone who brines their own sauerkraut from scratch, however, is kind of in a Super Not Candy Ass category.

How much you wanna bet Al the Retired Army Guy is in that league?

Anonymous said...

A mother is all the wonderful things you never outgrow your need for.-unknown

Mothering is not Candy Ass.

I miss mine.

RJ

Anonymous said...

Erin:

You clearly know how a kitchen is mean to function. When is dinner at your house?

KW

Bill said...

Fast forward a few years. I hope I'm around to check out little OB's blog about how her mother taught her non candy ass kitchen stuff and how much she appreciates that quality time.

Anonymous said...

"Shut up! Just...shut up...you had me at rendered bacon fat...you had me at rendered bacon fat..."

MR

WV: sometimes these are too perfect:'hamicate'...

Anonymous said...

Has some very old non candy ass cast iron cookware. Hand washing cast iron is not candy ass
James Old Guy

Shaina said...

So? How were the pancakes???? (and, if they were awesome, i want the recipe...)

i might be a candy ass cook, but i sure as hell am not a candy ass baker.

Craig Hughes said...

Erin, you've hit on a great, great point. At this point in my life, passing from middle age to I won't say what's next, I truly want to make every meal count. I cook alot and if not from scratch, pretty damn close. Making a roux is fun, finishing the gumbo it started is better. Even when I eat out I look for something better that spurs me to something in the kitchen or at the grill. And the mixer, it defines super non candy ass although my mom finally burned out the motor on hers and I inherited a newer version. It works though and so I appreciate that machinery.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

I have a Kitchen Aid Mixer, though not of the same vintage as Erin's. I used it the other day to make a chicken galantine. I sometimes make sausage with it, but it's not really a good machine for that due to the fact that the motor is up top.

Yes, I make my own sauerkraut. And bacon. I also make my own pickles (a recent development) by both fermenting them and using the traditional vinegar method. I guess this makes me "Super Not Candy Ass."

Like our humble hostess, I make all of my own stocks. I use roux, too. In fact, today, I was teaching students how to make espagnole (brown sauce), demi glace, and small sauces from it.

I also make my own smoked salmon. I have made pate en croute as well.

Sriacha is always in my pantry, as is sambal oelek. A recent addition? The home made habanero hot sauce I did last week. Definitely not candy ass.

I have several Chinois. Super Not Candy Ass, baby.

If I had a mortar and pestle big enough, I would make aioli in one. Unfortunately I do not.

I have a pasta machine, and not only do I make my own pasta, but I also make my own ravioli and tortellini. Sometimes I make my own ricotta and/or mozzarella (when I can get decent milk) too, and put that inside the pasta.

I have cast iron cookware, black steel pans (to include one for omelets and one for crepes), copper pans (Mauviel and Falk Culinair - they are both definitely NOT candyass), All Clad brand pans, and a few Calphalon thrown in here and there. I have a Robot Coupe (most definitely not candy ass) and like Erin I also have a Vitamix Blender, made right in Berea, Ohio.

But the biggest non-candyass thing I have? My BBQ cooker. I know it's not candy ass because it's completely welded, is constructed of 1/4" cold rolled steel, and it took five of us to get it out of the bed of my truck (it weighs a lot, and I mean a lot). You can read about them at www.bbqpits.com.

And yes, I have a french press.

I will say this - Erin's daughter is most definitely not candy ass. She is her mother's daughter, after all. And Erin, dear readers, is decidedly not candy ass. Trust me on that one.

Al
TRAG

Nin Andrews said...

Oh well. I give up. Candy Ass here.

DogsDontPurr said...

This is off the cooking topic, but I know how much you love jigsaw puzzles, Erin. And this is definitely not candy ass:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z7uk8E5QMo&feature=related

(If that link doesn't work, go to ipuzzleu.com and click on "movie."

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

Oh, and I also have not one, not two, but 5 mandolins, as well as a Bron Turning Slicer. Definitely not candy ass.

Al
TRAG

Anonymous said...

I think I developed vascular disease just reading this thread. Jesus. Makes me just want to through a bunch a food on the floor and roll around in it. Like Water for Chocolate.

Must be candy ass.

RJ

WV: flacu. "You eat with those guys you better be prepared for the flacu."

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

BTW, I grow my own bay leaves, too.

@ RJ: if you're going to throw food on the floor and roll around in it, make sure it's bacon. Preferably homemade.

Al
TRAG

philbilly said...

Just learned today that the big red rooster bottles of Sriracha Sauce were developed in 1980 by a Vietnamese immigrant. Would have guessed it was an import.
Love that stuff.

Also just discovered Tabasco with Garlic, excellent. While writing this post I sampled some straight from the bottle and am digging it, perfect blend of flavor and burn. And now, a crappy ice cold beer in a pewter mug.

Erin O'Brien said...

This comment section is rocking my face off.

Shaina, the pancakes were admirable.

James: I have my Great Gram Doubler's 15" cast iron skillet. It weighs a ton. I'm thinking it's between 80 and 100 years old. Some bushy haired intruder comes in here and believe me, I'll take the sonuvabitch OUT with that skillet. Anyway, I never use soap on it or any of my regular cast, just hot water and a rag or scour pad.

Reading Al's listings was like a prolonged orgasm. And then I get a jigsaw vid from DDP and garlic Tabasco from Phil? HELLO.

Keep rockin' it, Craig. Nin, you are not a candy ass and drinking straight vinegar will clean out your tubes, RJ, well ... maybe it will.

Thanks for droppin' in MR, KW and Bill. Thanks to all my commenters always.

sarahm59 said...

Garlic Tabasco! What will they think of next? Yum... Everything goes better with bacon (even rolling on the floor), preferably cooked in a cast iron skillet.

Erin O'Brien said...

Is there anything like eating bacon? I think not!

twinkly sparkles said...

How do you make bacon, Al? A lot of folks around here raise chickens, not only for the eggs, but because they eat the chickens. Also rabbits, cows, and pigs. But I don't even know how one makes bacon. I'm not saying I would, but I am curious.

I've been digging the better bacon that is now available all over the Valley where I live, some of it local, some not. I love the Neiman Ranch bacon. Sadly, I can no longer eat "regular" bacon when I am away and eating breakfast out.

I am half-candy ass and half not. The problem is I know better. Then, the 50% of the time I spend being candy-ass is riddled with guilt.

How about this? Washing the floor on your hands and knees with a bucket of soapy water and a real rag from an old sheet. Then refilling your bucket (after you dumped the spent water in the toilet to wash that, too) with clear rinse water and rinsing down the floor with a fresh rag. Then drying it with yet another rag. That's the way my momma taught me. Can't say I do it any more, but I damn well know how. Swiffer my ass.

Love this post Erin.

twinkly sparkles said...

Oh, because underneath all of the cooking is the cleaning. Hand in hand.

B.E. Earl said...

The bacon fat is wonderfully non-candy ass. I use it to add a little flavor to homemade tomato sauce, or (if I'm feeling particularly non-candy ass) for fat-washing to make bacon-infused bourbon. Oh yeah...

Anonymous said...

@Al,
I'm curious like twinkly about the bacon making process(save the jokes).
Some time ago you suggested the same to me. There are smokehouses around here but it would be a big leap for me to make it(Candy-ass, nolo contender).
I mean do ya buy a shoat and fatten him up for slaughter or what?

Thx,

RJ

philbilly said...

Bacon-infused bourbon, you say?

Anonymous said...

"Bacon-infused bourbon."

OMG! I never heard this discussed at AA. My sobriety could be toast!

"Here sleeps in peace a Hampshire Grenadier,
Who caught his death by drinking cold small Beer,
Soldiers be wise from his untimely fall
And when ye're hot drink Strong or none at all."

Public Service Message.

RJ

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

@ RJ, Twinkly (and all): Making your own bacon isn't as difficult as one might think. Basically, there are three steps: curing, drying, and smoking.

Obtain a nice pork belly, preferably the whole slab. Next, cure the belly (either a wet or brine cure, or a dry cure with salt/sugar/curing salt) for several days or put to a week in the refrigerator. Once it's cured (it will feel firm to the touch), take it out of the refrigerator, rinse off the cure (whether wet or dry), pat dry with paper towels, and dry it. You can do this in the refrigerator overnight, or with a small fan blowing on the pork belly. What you're trying to achieve by drying it is something known as a pellicle, a sticky-ish surface on the outside of the meat. This helps the smoke to really "absorb" into the pork belly. Next comes smoking. You can either cold smoke (below 90 degrees F) or hot smoke (above that). Hot smoking means you're actually cooking the pork, while cold smoking doesn't do that. I've done both, and tend to prefer cold smoking. Cold smoking also requires smoking the pork belly away from the heat source, allowing the smoke to cool as it makes its way to the pork.

Continued in the next post .....


Al
TRAG

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

You can make a cold smoker for about $40 - $50 if you want with some dryer ducting, a cheap Brinkmann "bullet" smoker/grill, a six volt battery, a computer fan, a cardboard box, a hot plate, a small skillet, screening, a rubber band and some painter's tape. Essentially, you cut two holes in the cardboard box, diagonally across from each other, the size of the dryer ducting. Next, cut a flap in the center of the bottom of the box large enough to fit the hot plate. Take the side door off the side of the Brinkmann smoker, and tape a piece of cardboard to it with a hole big enough to accommodate the dryer ducting. Place the hotplate inside the box, along with your skillet, filled with wood chips. Take the computer fan, and place it inside a small length of ducting, and place it inside the hole at the bottom of the box. Connect two wires to the battery, and put a small piece of screening around the dryer ducting containing the fan (to keep bugs out). Secure the fan to the ducting with a rubber band. Tape the ducting to the box. Next, take a good length of ducting (6 feet or more) and connect that two the second hole on the top of the box, diagonally opposed to the lower hole containing the fan. Run the ducting to the hole on the side of the smoker, and secure with tape. Place your pork belly on the grid in the top of the smoker. Place lid on top. Turn on your hot plate, get the smoke going, and smoke according to your preferences (some will smoke for hours, others not so long).

Hot smoking isn't as involved, and you can do it on your stove top with a rack and two large aluminum roasting pans you can buy at the grocery store. Soak your wood chips in some water for about an hour or so. Place them in one of the aluminum pans, and place the rack over it. Put the pork belly on top, and put the whole thing on the stove. Heat until you see smoke coming up, and put the second pan on top of the first one. You can secure the top pan with ordinary alligator clips (available at Staples, Office Max, etc.) if you want. Adjust the heat to maintain a low, even smoke, and smoke until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 150 degrees F. You can also hot smoke the pork belly inside a grill by banking the coals to one side, putting soaked wood chips on the coals, and putting the pork belly on the other side of the grill. You may have to add more charcoal and chips to the fire during the cooking process, and you'll want to keep the heat relatively low (less than 225 degrees F) so that you don't overcook the belly, and maximize the amount of smoking going on. This takes some practice, but once you get it down it's a fairly simple process.

Once you've smoked the pork belly, you can eat it right away, or you can freeze it for later use. Freezing it actually makes it easier to slice.

Hope this helps,

Al
TRAG

Anonymous said...

@Al,

Thank you for taking the time to write that. Very interesting.


RJ

Anonymous said...

THIS MEETING WILL NOW COME TO ORDER. PLEASE TAKE YOUR SEATS. WAIVE THE READING OF THE MINUTES....there's a motion from the floor..."Wherein, we denizens of the Owner's Manual, having been rightly entertained and illuminated by our friend Al's postings, move that the landlady start one non-political, substantive food-related topic per week for the further delight and edification of said denizens" Do I have a second?

MR

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

@ MR,

In the words of "Gabby Johnson" from the movie, Blazing Saddles, I simply say .... "revereh!"

Al
TRAG

Anonymous said...

Second

Community Support Message not to be confused with interpersonal interaction with one or multiple commentors lest I have to go for remedial anus buffing.

RJ

Anonymous said...

Erin, in the words of Michael Scott, "Our balls are in your court"...
MR

B.E. Earl said...

@philbilly

Check it, here's an article about how to infuse bourbon with bacon fat with a video as well:

http://nymag.com/restaurants/recipes/inseason/45776/

They say you only need to infuse for 4-6 hours, but I like to infuse for at least 24 hours.

Cheers!

alphadog said...

Ahh bacon.
Bacon wrapped breast of teal, the teal having been harvested earlier in the day while consuming rum infused coffee in the duck blind at 6A.M., stuffed with cream cheese and jalapenos, slow smoked/cooked on the CHARCOAL grill in the evening anytime after Thanksgiving is definitely not candyass.

And chocolate covered bacon ain't candyass either.

WV: mints.
Now I gotta say, mints following a meal is kinda candyass.

Al the Retired Army Guy said...

The interesting thing to me here is this - I pretty much violently disagree with Erin's (and those of others here) views regarding politics and any number of other issues. But the one thing we can all agree on is food, and be very civil about it. Food - it is the one thing in our collective history that binds us all. A good thing if you ask me.

Speaking of good things - chocolate covered bacon? Yes please. When I worked at a local cafe downtown, we used to do it for street festivals. We sold it on a stick - and sold out every time.

Julie's dinner tonight? Butler Angus sirloin steak, roasted local mustard greens (Horne's Farm, Faith Farms) with garlic, and gaufrettes. I didn't make a pan sauce for her since she doesn't like sauces. I did, however make a port pan sauce. I deglazed the pan with some water and reduced that to a sec, then deglazed again with the port, and then monte au beurred it. Yum.

Al
TRAG

alphadog said...

"I deglazed the pan with some water and reduced that to a sec, then deglazed again with the port, and then monte au beurred it."

Al, you lost me after deglazing with water, but I defer to your expertise and trust that it is worth the effort.

An aside to Twink, where the hell is Thankful Thursday?

Unbelievable.
WV: gravi

Anonymous said...

@Al,

Thinking back I have a hard time recalling when you spoke harshly or "violently" in political conversations even when clearly disagreeing with those of us on the left. Wish I could say the same.

Breaking bread together does seem to have sort of a moderating effect on people. I remember growing up how important diner time was at my house and miss that in our constantly outta time fast food culture. Perhaps people like you and our humble hostess will help bring it back.

Sort of ironic that I have recently been listening to old favorite music including Warren Zevon. His last appearance on Letterman is available on You Tube. When asked by Letterman if having a terminal diagnosis had perhaps given him a perspective about life and death others might not have he responded "Enjoy every sandwich."

RJ

twinkly sparkles said...

Thanks, Al. That was thorough. Like I already stated, I don't think I'll be making my own bacon, but I will remember this comment thread if I need instructions. Thank you. You are a man of great passion.

Alph--I posted! Glad you missed me.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

@ RJ: When I use the word "violent" to describe my differences with other viewpoints, it means I strongly disagree. It's an old Army saying, as in "we're in violent agreement." BTW, I love Warren Zevon. And enjoy every sandwich, indeed.

@ Alph: Reducing to a sec is reducing till almost dry. Au sec is the actual cooking term, from the French word for dry (sec). Monte au beurre is another culinary term - mounting (or adding small knobs of butter) a sauce with butter. With the pan sauce I described, it helps emulsify the sauce (combining things that normally will not stay together on their own), gives it flavor and also a nice sheen.

@ Twinkly: Thanks for the kind words.

Al
TRAG

alphadog said...

Al,
Thank you sir.

Twink,
I found ya.

WV:distalic
Those who know me intimately would say I am not.

philbilly said...

Criminy, it's got maple syrup in it, too.

Although I currently possess everything needed to make a cold smoker except a Brinkman, I'm going to cheat and get my bacon from the Sausage Shoppe. Because I live in the Cleve.

While I'm there, I'll pick up some Jack Daniels bratwurst.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

The Sausage Shoppe - they are truly doing the Lord's work there.

Al
TRAG

philbilly said...

The Lord's work.

Erin O'Brien said...

I try to keep up with you people, I swear I do. Hola Twinks and Alph and Earl.

I was in Old Brooklyn just yesterday, but was too late and tired to stop at the Sausage Shoppe.

That said, you want controversy? I'll give you controversy. The spicy double smoked sausage from Dohar's at the West Side Market is better for lecho than the Sausage's Shoppe's

There. I said it.

Erin O'Brien said...

All right. I can't stand it for one more minute.

HOW COME NO ONE HAS COMMENTED ON THE ONION JUICE?

Anonymous said...

"Onion Juice has been touted as a miraculous medical cure for everything from cancer to alopecia. However if your day begins with the uttering of "Don't Shoot" it's likely to be of little use.

RJ, not a cook but perhaps a waiter.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

BTW, I made lecho tonight. The sweet peppers came from the Farmer's Market downtown, and the hot peppers came from my garden. Onions and garlic were also from the Farmer's Market. Unfortunately, we do not have a Sausage Shoppe-like store in Fayetteville, so I had to use some Smithfield Kielbasa (I've made my own andouille, a cousin of kielbasa, but alas, I didn't have any on hand). As it wasn't smoky enough, I used some smoked paprika to make up for the lack of smoke flavor. I didn't use as much hot sauce/red pepper flakes as Erin does (or as I would) as my wife Julie would not eat something that spicy. I served it over rice since Julie likes rice. I added more hot sauce to mine before eating it. It is a wonderful thing, lecho.

Al
TRAG

Erin O'Brien said...

Al, lecho is indeed a wonderful thing and so was reading your comment this morning. It made the tears well in my eyes, old friend.

Anonymous said...

Bean soup from scratch on the stove...love the aroma of those smoked bones...MR

Anonymous said...

BTW, the food thread has longer legs than the politics thread above it...MR

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Erin...I seem to be 'he who kills threads'...or maybe it's just another late Saturday...

Anonymous said...

I always get hungarian when I read these lecho comments.

(the operation was a success but the patient has expired)

RJ

Erin O'Brien said...

MR, old threads never die, they just get strung out.

RJ, you are silly!