Tuesday, May 17, 2011

bisquits, baby, bisquits.

I made bisquits for my son's teacher today.  I have done this several times now.  It is kind of funny that when I show up, the kids know that the bisquit man has arrived.  The smell permeates the hall as I blow through.  The kids start reacting with "What is that smell?" and "Hi Mr. Spearman" and of course, "Oh man, that smells good!".  The other teachers, though...  That is the funny part.  They see me burning down the hallways holding a 17" pan with my large brown welder's gloves.  Suddenly, they fall into my path, smiling and pleasant and full of hearty hellos.  Of course, it is naturally rewarded with a still warm, cheesy bisquit.  I have been queried for the recipe, and one astute consumer has even identified the style of bacon used (maple).  I was able to share one with the principal today, too.  Some families support with endowments, some volunteer like it was their career.  I make biquits.  That is my story and I am sticking to it. 
Planning on cooking dutch tomorrow night, but with my back issues I may not be able to manage the process.  Kind of sucks, but I am hopeful.  I also owe the lovely wife a pan of Ghirardelli brownies.  I was thinking about doing a layer of brownie mix, a layer of peanut butter, and another layer of brownie mix.  I don't know if it will work.  I have to figure out what to thin the pb down with so it spreads easily.
Love and iron, Del

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Quick notes

I need to to clarify that Kyle's Garage of Wonder should not be confused with Mr. Wizard's Maginarium, which is equally splendiferous.  Also, if you like this web type stuff, check out http://www.actuallydaddy.com/.  My friend has started a daily comic strip.  It is reality based humor, echoing life as we live it, including kids, boogers, fart jokes, and love of our kids.  I have enjoyed it so far, and thought I would share it.  As he is a recent addition to our Circle of Bacon, I can only imagine how some of our foodie adventures will manifest in his depictions...
Love and iron,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Side note to my obsessive nature...

While I have mentioned in the past my tendency to pick up and drop hobbies, I should point out that it is 1:30am.  I just finished making the second round of Ghirardelli brownies outside for teacher appreciation week, and am getting up at 6:30am to make bacon cheddar drop bisquits for my son's teachers.  I just can't get enough of this stuff.  If only I could be a cast iron chef in a restaurant somewhere...

Steak it away!

When I picked up the beef shoulder the other day, the meat dept guy happened to be a big cast iron guy.  We talked about steaks, and he mentioned that restaurants actually pan sear their steaks and then bake or broil them.  Hmmm.  I went home on a mission and started looking through web recipes.  The concensus is preheat the oven and cast iron skillet to 500 degrees.  Bring meat to room temp and blot dry.  Season with kosher or sea salt and pepper.  I also used canadian steak seasoning for the additional herb flavor.  I used a medium+ grade of meat about 1.5 lbs.  I didn't want to overspend on an experiment, next time is NY Strip, baby!  Anyhow, pull preheated skillet out and put on high heat burner.  Drop steak onto pan and allow to sizzle gloriously for 2 minutes.  Flip, continue sizzling for 2 more minutes.  This sears it and seals in the juices for cooking.  Place skillet in oven with steak untouched for 2 minutes.  Flip steak and bake for another 2 minutes.  So that is 4 sets of 2-minute cooking cycles.  After this, pull the steak from the oven and place on a warmed plate.  Cover it loosely with foil and allow to "settle" for 5-10 minutes, so the internal juices re-absorb and don't pour out when you cut into it.  Serve and enjoy.  I noted that when mine came out, it was just above medium rare.  Steaks also continue to cook for a few minutes, so watch this.  If the meat had been thicker, say 1.5-2" thick, I would have probably ended up exactly medium rare, to almost rare.  One thing for sure is that it turned out far more tender and "right" than I could have hoped or would have expected.  You would have to play with your cooking times to perfect it.  Oh darn, all those steaks you will have to go through for the sake of knowledge...
Anyway, here are a couple of pix:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

No promises

I just have to say I never promised to be consistent or regular about posting.  I have been busy and distracted lately.  For those who have expressed interest in my pages, I thank you and apologize for the delays.  I am glad to report, however, that I have not quit dutching during this delay.  Several cool things have occurred.  Thanks to my friend Kyle and his Garage of Wonder, I have constructed a cook station.  I used 2 large pieces of wire utility shelving, 4 long  legs, and a 10' roll of 14" wide roof-valley tin. Add my oil drip pan, and then a high-sided pan.  Put it all together, you get a dutch oven cook station.  Not entirely amateur looking either.

The bottom shelf is placed low enough that I can actually put coal in the bottom pan and use the shelf as a skillet shelf that I can cook on.  Good place for the 17".  I was surprised at how well everything fit together.  My only concern was that the heat would affect the shelf brackets, which are plastic.  I broke it in with a load of burning coal and about 50lbs of cast iron.  There was surprisingly little heat transfer to the metal around the plastic, so I wasn't concerned beyond that.  My favorite feature, aside from the fact that it is very cool, is that it is reasonably portable.  It will be traveling to our next campout, which I think will be Fort Clinch.  By portable, I mean it can be taken apart and loaded into the Jeep easily.  The tin windscreen is pliable, and can be removed and "folded" up.  I broke it in with a neat recipe.  I went to Publix and got two of the "Hormel" marinated sleeves of meat, in this case, beef shoulder, one peppercorn and one terryiaki.  The theory was that the spice and sweet would blend and balance.  There ended up being about 3 pounds of meat.  I sliced an onion into rings and laid it across the bottom of the 12" 6qt, along with a handful of peeled baby carrots.  I then unceremoniously dumped the meat in, which was in large cutlets.  I didn't do anything else to it.  Just lidded it and did the charcoal, 14/10 for 25 minutes.  When I opened it up, there was literally an inch of juice in the bottom of the pot.
Let me tell you, the meat was buttery tender and delish!
Continuing the adventurous and experimental theme, I remembered John Howard, Dutch Oven Genius, showing me how he had used canning lid rings to hold up a pan in a large dutch oven to make brownies.  I was inspired to quest for the rings.  I then saw a set of stove burner rings and had a vision.  I took the 8" one and put it in the bottom of the 12", where it fit perfectly.  I used a 10" pie pan, which came in a 3 pack.

The low profile of the burner ring allwoed for even heat and airspace on the bottom, which prevented any scorching whatsoever.  I used a Ghirardelli chocolate brownie mix, sprayed the pan with Pam, and usedthe Lodge recommendation for 325 degrees.  After the first round, I felt the brownies came out a bit moist and gooey.  I did another round and changed the charcoal mix to 16 over and 9 under for 45 minutes exactly.  It came out perfectly. 
So here it is.  I am still cooking.  Is anyone still reading?
Love and iron, Del

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On the subject of web photo albums

I am still trying to make the web photo album work.  -D


Okay, so I got the wok!  I know I said no more, but this was my anniversary gift.  15 years is a good run so far, so I think cast iron is as good as crystal...  It is the Lodge cast iron wok and it is beautiful.  My wife busted me watching videos online... videos of someone seasoning a wok!  I felt so dirty.

After much consideration, I christened it with olive oil, vegetable oil, and a pound of ground pork (along with some minced garlic).  I started by cleaning it thoroughly to remove the wax coating.  I put it on a stove burner and filled it half way with water and a drop of Dawn dish soap, along with a quarter cup of vinegar.  As it warmed up over medium heat, I scrubbed the inside out with a stiff brush.  When I felt like I had done enough, I dumped it and started pouring vinegar onto the inverted outside over the sink and scrubbing that side as well.  A good rinse and the back to the stovetop. 

I started with a dab of pork to produce a little fatty oil.  It didn't actually work so well at first, because there wasn't enough meat to produce the volume of oil needed.  There was a little sticking and I had to pour a little vinegar and water in and scrub the bottom out.  Next spoonfull of meat was preceded by a dab of oil that was wiped around.  It still didn't make much oil, but it didn't stick this time.  Dumped that, wiped out and oiled, and then a full pound of nice fatty ground pork.  It sizzled and oozed grease beautifully.  I moved it around, and wiped it up the sides, smearing the grease everywhere.  I dumped in a tbsp of minced garlic for flavor.  At the same time, I randomly made a pot of herbed couscous.  I thought it would make a decent base to dump the pork into.  I mixed it in and tried it out.  Fantastic!

When I was done, there was enough oil left over in the bottom of the wok that I wiped it around and coated the entire inside.  After it cooled down, I ran some hot water and scrubbed it again.  One more light rubbing of oil, and it looks ready for the next meal!

Happy anniversary to me!

Love and iron,