Timing is everything

I love breakfast but I am not a fan of it in the morning.  I just love the foods that constitute breakfast.  Historically, it took time for breakfast to catch on and what we have now for breakfast is really a modern invention.  Up into the 19th Century, breakfast was on the whole just something to drink and maybe a piece of bread because doctors believed rising and then eating heavily was bad for the humors.  As, with all things, breakfast is not as cut and dry, for you know that not everyone follows the norm.  There are mentions of breakfast being cold foods left over from the night before…and we sometimes do that today.  I have grabbed a cold piece of pizza from the night before.  But Breakfast with eggs, bacon, and such came into it’s own in the 19th century.  With the industrial revolution, many could work longer and stay up longer, so now we have a need for more sustenance to get us through it all.  I sometimes wonder if it is the chicken before the egg scenario.  I mean, was breakfast really already there and a lunch was added or was dinner then supper and breakfast was added?  My great grandfather, a farmer, would get up early work a little then eat a breakfast, work some more have a large lunch and then work more and have a small dinner once the sun went down.  Sounded like he still followed the old way of nothing on rising but having not been into foodways when I knew him (I was 3 when he passed) I must just speculate upon his reasons.  I hear you asking, “What has this to do with timing?”  I am so glad you asked.

Cooking always has to do with timing.  Timing for length of cooking a specific receipt but I am talking about timing so that all the food is ready at the same time.  Like I said I love breakfast food, as a matter of fact I love a full English/Irish Breakfast.  I have been promising my family to make it for them but when you are talking about at least 5 types of meat, eggs, fried potatoes, and bread, you must time it all so that none is cold upon serving.  I know some may be asking, “where is the fried tomatoes?  Where is the fried bread?  Beans on toast?” .  Although, I love all three things, my family doesn’t so I had to choose what to accomplish.

So how did I time it? First, I must tell you I did this in my modern kitchen which is small so I had to check the cooking length for each item before starting. Once done, I started out with turning on the oven and placing three fry pans on the stove top and got them heating.  Once the pans where hot, I started to brown the lamb chops and the breakfast sausage links.  I placed the hash brown patties into the oven, yes I took a short cut not making home made but used frozen this after all was my first attempt.   Turned the lamb chops and started frying the white pudding.  Once the lamb chops were brown I placed them into the oven with the hash browns and also placed in the biscuits.  As they baked, I placed the breakfast sausage links on a low fire.  The white sausage was done so I allowed them to rest on a plate in the microwave which works as a warming oven because it is over the stove and when I have the light on it makes the microwave nice and warm but not hot.  Now, I fried the black pudding and the bacon.  I used thick-sliced bacon which I have found cooks much like English bacon in that it does not crisp like our bacon does. And besides my son does not care for crispy bacon.  I, myself, would rather have it so nice and crispy.  Anyway, back to the meal.  Once both the bacon and the black pudding were done, onto the plate with the white pudding and into the microwave oven.  I quickly, fried the eggs and all came together once the eggs were ready and I plated.

cookery 001Did we eat this for breakfast?  No, I made it for lunch.  Like I said I am not a breakfast time eater, especially something so heavy but yummy!   My family loved it.  I wish we could have this every day but I am not a farmer and I am sure I could never keep the activity up enough for this not to gain on me.

Results:  My estimated timing worked.  Although, the biscuits could have used a little more time in the oven so next time I will put them in with the hash browns…that is if I use frozen…I must try this again but with homemade hash brown potatoes and fried tomatoes.

Published in: on August 18, 2009 at 3:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Birthday, Food and a Movie

Gosh, I just don’t know where to start…well, I should first say this week was my birthday and what a glorious week of celebration it was.  No, not a milestone birthday but one in which I was allowed to celebrate in increments and mostly around food.  Went to Lunch with my mom and son on Monday at Galway Bay, an Irish restaurant.  Then on Wednesday my husband took me to a lovely Italian restaurant, Ristorante Tosca.  (He then presented me with the full series of the BBC show Chef.)  Then to top it off a dear friend took me to see Julie and Julia.

No, none of the food was historical but it was delicious and I learned a great deal.  I am one of those people who you probably would love to hit because I can find a lesson in everything…I know it confounds my son.   The movie delighted me!  There are no real differences among cooks, we just want to create masterpieces that delight the eye and enthrall the tongue.  I found the story mirrored my culinary intentions and experiences.  I strive to try new things and see if I have the fortitude and talent to accomplish them.  Julia had the Cordon Bleu and her cook book.  Julie had her blog in which she wanted to completely try all of Julia’s Book.  I have cooking with fire and learning as much as I can about the history of food.  And failures, I have had many, as did the characters of this movie.   One of my favorite scenes was Julie’s meltdown about the size of her kitchen and her home…Julie, I am with you there!  I have that melt down at least once a week…I feel I live in a rabbit hutch, although, I really do love my little cottage.  I too have a long suffering husband who despite my feeding him with lots of buttery treats still manages to stay slim…me I LOVE FOOD and anyone who has seen me can tell.  I laughed when the story focused on Julie being, in polite terms, narcissistic.  Please, what cook isn’t, we down deep feel we are great at what we do…and blogs well they aid in it…but we also want to share.  Julia shared with her school and cook book.  Julie shared through her blog.  I have by teaching and blogging with you.  So, thank you Julie and Julia for sharing and for you who read this little ole blog…THE BIGGEST OF THANK YOUs because without you I am just another cook who is a year older.

Published in: on August 8, 2009 at 5:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Update on the Topsy Turvy

First week in August and finally I have a ripe tomato on the plant that is in the Topsy Turvy.  I must say that I have already have had tomatoes off of the plants that are growing in normal pots.   It is said that tomatoes when introduced to the English were thought to be poison but interesting enough to use as decoration in the garden.  I know that it did take many to warm to the tomato but as a decoration…well, it must be in the eye of the beholder.  This plant, although it looks like it is dying but isn’t, would not be what I would use for decoration right now.  I will be like the Germans & Italians and eat it right when presented to me…I am an adventurist after all!  At least when it comes to cooking.  I know there were questions as to the Topsy Turvy working or not…Here see for yourself:

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Result:  The Topsy Turvy works but I need to hang it higher then I have it now because the plant gets too large and was resting on the ground.  Does it work better then normal pots?  I would say neither better or worse. If you can get it cheap and you have a high area to hang it from, it can save space and it does work when growing tomatoes.

Published in: on August 6, 2009 at 1:51 pm  Comments (1)  

Smoke in your eyes

I am not sure if I have mentioned in previous blogs that I bought a smoker.  Well, I have but it has just been sitting on the patio after having been put together.  I have been wanting to try it out for the past two months and I finally got to it this past week.  What finally pushed me was that the local grocery store had a sale on turkey legs.  My father loves the turkey legs at the Renaissance festival, so, my thought was I could try out my new toy and give my Dad a treat he really likes.

I decided to first brine the turkey legs.  It is a brine of 1 gallon water, 1 cup salt, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup honey and spices.  I used basil, marjoram, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, pepper, sage, cumin and cinnamon.  I soaked the legs in the brine overnight.  Then in the morning I dried the legs.  I then applied a dry rub of Onion Powder, Paprika, Honey dust, garlic powder, pepper, cumin, basil, marjoram, sage and vegetable oil.  I let the legs sit with the rub for two hours while I got the smoker going.  I used real wood charcoal as opposed to briquettes and wood chips soaked for the same two hours to use for the smoking.

It worried me for a while that the legs would never reach the appropriate temperature because the smoker only ever reached 200 degrees F.  I let the legs smoke for 6 hours, then took one out and used a meat thermometer to see if it reached the 165 degrees F that is recommended for cooking turkey meat.  Well, the thermometer only reached 150 and I was frustrated but I decided to pull a leg out that was further in the back and checked its temperature. Lo and behold it reached 180 degrees F.  I should have let it set for some time before eating but I couldn’t wait.  The flavour was wonderful but it was salty.  I suggest eating the legs with something that counter balances the saltiness.  My dad?  He loved it and I am sure he will want me to make some more.

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Result:  For me a little too salty but good.  Next time, I think I will try smoking them without the dry rub or put more honey dust in the rub.  Also, I will rotate the legs to allow the meat to cook at an even rate.

Published in: on August 3, 2009 at 8:21 pm  Comments (1)