Author: platefodder

Bread Whore ~ Perfect Caraway Rye

I’m really a simple guy in a lot of ways… it doesn’t take a lot to make me happy.  But perfection in the grand order of things is one of them. You don’t see it a lot; small perfections are elusive and fleeting. But if you slow down just enough to take it all in, you can catch all those bits that classify as Perfect. A perfect pair of shoes… the kind that feel magnificent as soon as you take them out of the box.  The ones, whether socks or commando – dirty or shower fresh, your feet are absolutely at home. A perfect day… Where first thing in the morning there is such a crispness to the air, you don’t know if you want to jump out of bed as not to miss a second… or snuggle deeper into the covers to make it last as long as possible. A perfect loaf of rye bread… Loaded with caraway seeds, it’s a delicate balance of softness, chewiness, structure and flavor. One that adds pedigree to …

Tales of Woe ~ Love, Hate, and Fake Soy Sauce

Shortly after Soy became an ugly four – letter word in our house (okay… 3, but it’s still a terrible thing), I was convinced I could produce a fake soy sauce that would mimic the properties, taste and joy of the luscious dark brown elixir. I’m here to tell you – I can’t…. And, neither can you. There is an army of crazy people out there that believes just because it looks like soy sauce… you can trick people into thinking it actually tastes like it. I fell into their trap; mixing balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, and instant coffee – – – Roasting mushrooms and steeping them in beef broth, or this attempt,  expressing the heavenly ( garbage )mixtures into soy-free nirvana – – – Fake soy sauce has become the culinary equivalent of the  alchemist transmutation of lead into gold… it can’t be done. However… that isn’t to say that  finding a suitable medium (like chickpeas, or lentils), then submitting them to rigorous fermenting, salting, and aging (like a traditional soy or tamari) can’t …

Bread Whore ~ I Pita the Fool

  I’ve been sucked in to the hype. “The Bestest Ever Pita Bread!”, “The! ONLY! pita! recipe you’ll ever need!!!!” (note – and be wary of – rampant exclamation points), “Throw out ever other Pita recipe… this one is the BOMB!!!” meh…. They’re not even close to the hype. And why they aren’t is several fold: Pita Dough needs massively long proofing periods (+ 8 to 12 hours) in order to create structure and flavor… or, a proven cheat to create those effects. Wet  Doughs produce flat breads… ” If the pitas don’t rise… don’t worry – they make great flat breads”… well, that just defeats the whole purpose of making pita… If I wanted roti, I’d find a roti recipe… right? Dry Doughs produce crackers. 100% All Purpose Flour (regardless of the proofing time) doesn’t have enough Gluten to create a structure capable of capturing the steam in order to get a puff. So… with all those road blocks in the way, we’re going to cheat. Here’s the thing… This is not a traditional …

Radio Silence (2017)

“Whack”… “Whack” …”Whack!” Is this thing on? My great-googly crazy, Aunt Dora….. I’ve been gone a long time! And for that, kind readers, I am truly sorry. Life here at Turtle Creek has been … let’s just say …. … .. . . Interesting. The past two years have been rife with the sound of ambulances, frantic midnight calls, sleepless nights.. and days, and a never-ending parade of hospital stays. It’s taken a while, but Jane is finally on the mend. Life is returning to something that has a vague resemblance to normal, and I’ve had a deep heart to heart with my inner 10 year-old self to reconcile the fact that my mother isn’t going to live forever. It’s true…. Life moves on…. And it’s either hop on board, or stand there and get crushed under the weight of it all. So, I am Back. Fair warning…. I’m ever so slightly more cynical this time around… and I’m not suffering fools gladly. Some bat-crap crazy sh*t has been happening in the world of food …

Open Sesame! ~ Not Chocolate, Not Peanut Butter Cookies

“I’d kill for a peanut butter cup.” It hasn’t helped that the Comet Halloween just whizzed past us tossing chocolate & peanut debris in it’s wake… nor that the typhoon “Winter Holiday” is churning out in the distance, chocked full of every imaginable forbidden delight in that never-ending advertising rotation, hitting the airwaves every… fifteen… minutes. Luckily, I’ve been able to igg out  a few small miracles. Watkin’s makes an impressive imitation chocolate extract. It’s not quite chocolate (being made from yeast), but it does give you the impression that you’ve doused the kitchen in chocolate liquor… and it does trick the mind a bit… just as long as you don’t think of it as Bosco. And, I’ve had a moderate amount of success with Tahini replacing peanut butter in savory situations for satays, peanut butter marinades, and an odd bout of mixing it with blue cheese for Ants on a Log… but, never anything sweet. I guess it’s about time. And, yes… they’re every bit as good as the ones we can’t even think about eating.  In …

Tales of Woe ~ The one with the Cauliflower

Since in this month’s Raw Spice Bar shipment I got an extra packet of Memphis Rub Dry Mix, I didn’t want it to go to waste… so I put on the thinking spurs. Jane and I have both seen wondrous, spiced, roasted cauliflowers on various media outlets and really wanted to give one a try… this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Slather on your spice mix – roast for 30 to 45 minutes – be rewarded with amazing roasted cauliflower deliciousness. It sounds easy… right? It sounds too easy to be true… right? Okay.. like everything else that sounds too good to be true… so was the cauliflower recipe. Here’s the thing. Cauliflower is dense. 30 minutes… 50 minutes… 1 hour in an oven just isn’t going to heat deep enough through all that bulk to do anything more than softening up the outer lobes a bit… and heat the center….maybe. All in all – cooking time was 1 hour and 20 minutes at 375. I then turned off the oven and let the head rest in there …

DIY ~ Painting Plastic Wicker

The Backstory Some years ago we purchased a set of “natural” colored plastic wicker furniture for the back deck. It was fine for the purposes we intended. They all lived happily under a gazebo tent-like thing and rarely saw direct sunlight. Unfortunately, over the past several years, snowfall has been tremendous and the gazebo – tent~like thing gave up the ghost under the weight of all that snow. We replaced the tent-like thing twice. After the second full collapse we resigned ourselves to the fact that it was never going to be a permanent kind of structure, and left the plastic wicker stuff to fade and look unsightly under the oppressive summer sun. I considered replacing it. But, the thought of spending upwards of $700.00 for something no one was ever going to spend much time on was inconceivable. (Did tell you I was cheap? I believe I did… numerous times.) So… repainting it seemed like a good option. The Research There are a couple of options for painting plastic-like things. Krylon Maxx (around $4.00 per can) …

The Mayo Burger ~ with lettuce slaw

Travelling around in South Brazil I learned a very important thing – “Burger with Salad” on a menu description doesn’t mean lettuce, tomatoes and onion. …it means “Big ass burger patty topped with green peas, cooked carrots and corn“… yes, exactly like a can of Veg-All.  And, it didn’t matter where we traveled in the Southern part of the country, it was always the same. I really shouldn’t be surprised. Half of the hot dogs I ate there had mashed potatoes, corn and french fries smashed into the top; balancing on top of the wiener and bun like a drunken night at the all-you-can-eat buffet.. It’s like they didn’t grasp the whole idea of American Fast food…. they still wanted their “Meat & 2 Veg.” But if you got to have “Salad” on top of a burger… then make it a good salad. My all-time favorite burger topping is a lettuce slaw. There’s just something about a mound of sweet iceberg lettuce steaming on top of a burger that just makes my toes curl. And, once …

Bread Whore ~ School Rolls

Except for a brief period of time when Jane went to Marietta High (she still attests that the meals cooked in any one of the three – count’em, 3  dining rooms – were stellar food),  school lunches have always been a point of contention. We bitch about the pseudo protein nuggets they currently feed our kids and the layers upon layers of overly sweetened,  deep fried “easy way out” meals that most systems have allowed to overtake the meal program. Years ago, we weren’t any better. Even though we had real, actual, lunch ladies – that cooked real, actual  meals; we still found the fuel and energy to moan about the worm-like spaghetti with the sauce that congealed before you got it back to the table, or the odd, flat meatloaf that more resembled scouring pads than actual meat. Every generation has it’s pressure point. …Except when it came to the bread. Most schools made their own bread; ours was no different. I bet every person that when to school when I did can remember splitting …

English Seed Cake

Looking back, I guess the cake all started as a way to get the four of us to sit still while she read. During the summer break, Jane would spend an hour,  one afternoon a week,  reading to us. In part, to keep the house from being destroyed as we moved play inside to avoid the heat when afternoon summer temps arched to sweltering highs… but, more over to guide our reading interests to more adult literature. That summer in particular, she read The Hobbit.. As you know, the stories are full of multiple meals, Elevensies, teas, cakes and the such. As a way of getting us in the mood she researched a seed cake made with caraway (a typical tea cake). We noshed on it as they left the Shire and headed on their adventure. Truth be told, I never really cared for it. Caraway seeds in cake just never translated to delicious for me. Jane however, loved it and made it long after the story concluded and we moved on to more contemporary adventures. With the success …