Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mein weisswurst brings ze krauts to the yard...

Hog casings, ice cubes. Strangely enough, not gross at all in this form. I wouldn't want to be the guy that turns the hog guts into this, but they don't even have a smell, really.

Tonight we're doing our first emulsified sausage. All of the hardware has to be chilled to keep the emulsion from "breaking." If this happens, the sausage will taste fine but will apparently have a texture so unpalatable we'd throw it out.

Not terribly hard to crank but I'd love to mount this on a sturdier bench. Missy is off camera bracing the table. I am clearly going ape-poopy on the grinder.

Once through the coarse die, partially refrozen, mixed with salt.

Once through the fine die.

And then we beat the bejesus out of it with the paddle attachment. By this point it's like a meat mousse, all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
A quenelle (a bit of the stuffing wrapped in plastic) lets us test-cook a bit and see if we need to adjust the flavoring. This one wasn't wrapped that well, tasted salty and a bit white-peppery. Oh well, onward.

No pictures of the stuffer in action because missy wasn't feeling well* and this was a solo operation. The links, once filled, are gently poached to 150 degF internal temperature, then dropped into an ice bath, setting the emulsion.

They are then refrigerated.
I had three for lunch today, it was amazing.

The end.

*I was washing dishes while Toby decided to thoroughly sanitize the counter and floor beside me. The smell of isopropyl was so bad that I had to go to another room and lie down.

She was already queasy, the isopropyl just brought it on. Who gets so sick they go lie down from a whiff of something that non-toxic? WHO?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November: Gray and Stormy

Let the record show that we were unaware of the Twilight saga's settings before we booked our weekend on the Olympic Peninsula. Apparently all three places we visited - Forks, La Push, and Port Angeles - had a part in the books and they are apparently milking it for all it's worth.

Nevertheless, let us enter the Twilight Zone.
La Push is the besht.

The proprietor of a resort booked up for the weekend was able to recommend me the lovely Wood Street Guest House in Forks, WA. About half an hour towards the ocean is La Push, (which makes Forks, the tiny timber town, seem like a metropolis)

While we were here, a twilight tour bus pulled up and some land manatees got out.

Pretty big stump, right?

Two harbor seals came paddling in from the open (and violent) ocean. HORK HORK HORK towards a flock of seabirds. One submerged, and from this beach we witnessed a seal eat a seagull. Just grabbed the whole bird in its mouth with one bite.

There was moss on everything. Mushrooms and moss.

Action Marissa.

Some sort of coral fungus.

This guy's enormous. Believe it or not, the pacific banana slug gets even bigger than this. If you can't tell, I'd say this guy was half a foot long.

Slug reproduction?

Mountains, Gandalf! This was taken from the shore of Crescent Lake on the way back from the coast. It's amazing that the only way to get from seattle north of Olympic National park is a two-lane road (101) that winds along the water for its entire length. Unbelievably gorgeous. If it were any warmer I would have waded in.

To best appreciate our moods, please scroll between this photo and the one above it while making alternate yelling noises.

Hollywood Beach in Port Angeles, and a warning not to swim or fish there after a heavy rain due to raw sewage outflow.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October: grey and overcast with some orange leaves

This is about 2lb of chanterelles that I picked in a secret location up here. The chanterelle is one of the more eagerly desired of the wild mushrooms, with a scent of apricots while raw and a mild-to-peppery mushroom taste. So far I made some mushroom risotto (okay) and some mushroom cream sauce over chicken (good). I'm going to have to use up the rest on some quiches.

I went with one of my new co-workers. I have just arrived at my final job destination, and it's as true here as anywhere else in my particular job role at my company: hunting, fishing, cooking, outdoors. These things are incredibly popular. Easy to make friends when everyone shares your passions.

But isn't mushroom hunting dangerous?

Well, yes and no. The chanterelle can only be mistaken for a few other species. One is the false chanterelle, which doesn't taste as good but is still edible (disappointing dinner). The other is the jack o lantern, which is poisonous but not deadly, but tastes delicious. They say people have been poisoned multiple times by jack o lanterns, as they taste so good gosh dern it, they couldn't have been poisonous! Anyway, I digress:

It takes a real good hunter to distinguish between all of the little brown mushrooms you see, which is why I stick to the delicious easy ones (morels, chanterelles, and I'd love to find some tasty boletes).

Have guidebook, will repeat.

M: I made apple pie cookies. They're pies! The size of cookies! Shockingly, I did not come up with this on my own. It's an idea from one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen.

In the Pacific Northwest, even the coffee is trees. Swear this was not modified in any way, this is what remained in a french press cup of joe after I done drank the joe out of it.

M: And these are dead now, but I bought a dozen lovely dahlias at Pike Place Market that are worth sharing. They were an explosion of red and yellow; even the scent was peppery. They made me smile.