Deliveries

… i am expecting some deliveries today… slip on traction cleats for my shoes, new casters for my office chair and, as it turns out (a day earlier than projected), a new cast iron pot that will replace (i hope) the last non-stick coating pan in my kitchen… i say ‘hope’ because the non-stick pan was purchased for the main purpose of making Persian rice with Tadigh… all the cookbooks advise the use of a non-stick coating pan because it is critical that the rice not stick to the pan… the advice is use lots of extra oil in any other sort of pan… we shall see… i will immediately attempt to cook the Persian rice in the new pan… very excited…

… in my pursuit of Buddhist thinking, it is appropriate to assess the rightness of these purchases, this consumption…

  • the traction cleats are for my safety while walking in conditions of snow and ice
    • they replace a pair that broke
    • i did not try to repair the pair that broke
    • i ordered it through Amazon
    • i could have purchased locally
  • the new casters are to make my office chair work better and to stop it from scratching up the floor
    • they replace the casters that have become frozen with hair and dust
    • i did try to repair them but failed with two out of five casters
    • the new casters are made for hard surface floors, the old ones were not
    • i ordered it through Amazon
    • i could not get them locally
  • the new cast iron pot/pan was purchased to replace a pan with non-stick coating
    • i have been eliminating non-stick surface pans from my kitchen, this is the last one
    • i have been researching this purchase for a long time
    • the new pan seems quite versatile so hoping it will have multiple purposes in my kitchen
    • the new pan seems right sized for the cooking i do, which is generally only for small numbers of people
    • cast iron is not toxic and supplies iron to the diet
    • i don’t know what the impacts of cast iron manufacture on the planet are, but properly cared for, cast iron lasts many lifetimes
    • cast iron requires a certain amount of care maintenance which i have come to consider mindfulness practice
    • ordered thorough Amazon
    • was not available locally

… i am wondering if i should apply this analysis to anything i consume in an effort to know the rightness or wrongness of it… preferably before consuming…

First Thoughts

… lots swimming around in my brain this morning… watched Derek Jarman’s The Garden last night… Senate Republicans blocked discussion on a pared down voting rights bill authored by Manchin who had claimed he could get ten Republicans to back it… that, since learning how to season and care for my cast iron pans, they have become my most used and loved pans in the kitchen… how well my Jelly Comb vertical mouse works and how all neck and shoulder pain in my mousing arm side has disappeared… that i will start the journals of Denton Welch this morning… that i had no alcohol last night and feel better this morning, though not as wonderful as the day on Block Island when i had no alcohol and drank sumac-aide, i was euphoric on that day, so i wonder, is sumac a tonic?…

… so, back to the top, The Garden, a strange and wonderful film… about repression of gays, especially by the church… about relentlessly invasive modern society… about capitalism’s relentless presence… the imagery, oh the imagery, so inspiring… so damn good… i had only an inkling of what the movie would be like from Modern Nature… knew that Tilda Swinton was in it… didn’t realize that Jarman himself appears in numerous places… the film concocted as a set of dreams… the landscapes of Dungeness spectacularly bleak and desert like, and in the shadow of a nuclear power plant… did he buy the cottage because it would make a fantastic filming location?…

… as for voting rights… ahhh the filibuster, whither the filibuster?… we are up against a wall, the moment when the country decides whether it is white, male patriarchal, or a multiarchy?… the numbers are on the side of the multiarchy, the power balance presently skewed in favor of patriarchy… what will be the outcome?… disaster, from my point of view, if the filibuster is not amended for arguably the most important historical moment of my longish life…

… cast iron pans, what a difference proper seasoning and maintenance makes!… i had always tried to take good care of them, but i finally learned how… past the basic seasoning routine (a thin application of grape seed oil, one hour in a 500 degree oven, repeat several times), learning to rinse with hot water, even soak briefly, has been transformative… then drying, heating up and application of a thin coat of oil before storing… that’s it… my pans are mostly non-stick and when they do stick, cleanup is easy… long live cast iron pans!… and they do, properly cared for…

… another piece of equipment that is working well is my Jelly Comb vertical mouse… i have been through so many input devices… this is the one that works and i love it!…

… the journals of Denton Welch… read the short bio on the cover flaps… somewhat sad but amazing figure… a bad accident when he was 20 partially paralyzed him and left him in continuous until his death 13 years later… reputedly a prolific and brilliant writer… he trended homosexual…

… about no alcohol… always feel better the next day… when will i be able to profit from that knowledge?…

… must see if i can buy sumac commercially… and i can… powdered for use in cooking, as tea, loose or in bags… the latter is expensive… i am going to check the health food stores for the tea, will order the ground version from Spice House…

… the horn of a freight train in the distance… Fiona exhales a deep breath while sleeping on the bed near by…

Making Fish Stock

… scored a couple of fish heads at the farmer’s market… making stock for a yet to be determined deliciousness…

Food

… an afternoon of cooking… roasting sugar pie pumpkins for soup… roasting pumpkin seeds… for dinner i will make salt baked red snapper, fondant potatoes and a bitter greens salad… all with fresh ingredients procured in the last couple of days…

… toasted peppercorns, coriander seed, fennel seed, crushed in mortar and pestle, the most amazing smell… for the fish cavity… as the fish steams in the salt crust the toasted spices are infused in the flesh… the flavor is subtle and amazing… i made oven baked fries flavored with Old Bay in lieu of the fondant potatoes as it took less time and attention… dinner was terrific but i prefer the salt crust of the recipe i usually use… will combine the spicing of this recipe with the salt crust of the other next time…

Drying Herbs

… i started to read MN which quickly reminded me that i have mountains of herbs in the garden that i need to harvest and dry… sage, thyme, mint, tarragon… i look up drying methods which are pretty straight forward though avoiding dust seems to be the biggest problem for me… the recommendation is to encase them in paper bags with holes punched in the bags to allow air circulation… i wonder if there are bags made for herb drying… and it turns out there are hanging mesh drying racks… the mesh doesn’t look fine enough to keep out dust, but perhaps that can be dealt with using paper towels over the top of the herbs?… will slow down the drying time but otherwise ok?…

First Thoughts

… woke at 5 AM… that is sleeping late for me… busy day yesterday… lots got done… another busy day today…

… made beach rose hip jam yesterday… actually more of a marmalade…

… my first successful BR jam… tried last year but managed to burn the sugar…

HCR meter, country approaching the precipice… Mitch McConnel has lost control of his caucus?… are there those who would really see the country crash and burn because they could rebuild it as an oligarchy or with authoritarian control?… i believe the conditions are being set for Manchin and Synema to blow away the filibuster… if this happens, a floodgate of legislation that should drown radical Republicans and wash them out to the sea… one can only hope… in the meantime, our retirement life hangs in the balance…

… i had the thought this morning, its actually been hanging out in the recesses of my consciousness for a while, that 45 will return as a Hitleresque leader and Tucker Carlson will be his henchman, the one who sets up the concentration camps… this might seem outlandish, but i see a host of characters on the far right that would readily fill the roles of Nazi German government… Steve Bannon would be head of the SS… it doesn’t take me to any kind of happy place to be having these thoughts…

… sirens in the distance… many sirens… police, fire trucks, i am wondering what is going on… if it’s big, i will find out later…

First Thoughts

… HCR meter… do or die… the moment has arrived when voting rights legislation must be passed or the current gerrymandered redistricting will be locked in and the Dems are likely to loose control of house and Senate in 2022 and likely as well to loose control of the Presidency in 2024… according to most liberal pundits, this would be a disaster for democracy… all eyes on Washington and the Dems this week… in particular, Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema…

… my weight has been steadily climbing… two factors… not enough exercise, too many carbs… must reverse the trend…

… my left foot seems to have rounded a corner… standing on it while working in the kitchen did not cause pain yesterday… i can still feel some residual discomfort, but i think it is nearly healed… i will try a longer beach walk this AM… M and i continue to have micro text exchanges… they seem to be settling in to life on their own nicely…

… much hand ringing over H’s M… trying to figure out how to be sure she gets to the doctor for x-ray and consultation… H will not be easy to live with if this is not well set up on our departure… the current plan is to get them off the island to P’s house on Sunday… L will then pick them up and get them to the doctor on Wednesday… how they get back to BI will be up to them… we haven’t told M yet that we were unable to postpone our car reservation on the ferry so it will be Sunday… hopefully that won’t be a problem…

… looked up the recipe for rose hip jam… had forgotten how involved it is… well, gonna do it anyway… will gather the supplies today…

… looking forward to getting home… lots of house and yard maintenance work awaits and it is a bit of a drag living in a house that needs so much attention, but it is home and i look forward to being home which i have barely been for the past month…

… checked the weather and tide level… today will be the day to walk the length of the beach at Mohegan bluffs… haven’t done that yet… looking forward to it…

… feeling good today, in spite of two beers and a couple glasses of wine… made swordfish last night, my best iteration of the pan roasted swordfish recipe that is always so successful…

Fish, Seafood

Prep Time: 1 hour (mostly waiting)

Cook Time: 25 minutes | Servings: Yield 4 servings

Ingredients:

1/8 cup butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

½ garlic clove, grated

¼ teaspoon ground mixed peppercorns, plus more for sprinkling

¼ teaspoon (packed) grated lemon peel

½ tablespoon olive oil

2 1-inch-thick swordfish steaks (about 6 ounces each)

Directions:

An hour before cooking:

Salt swordfish steaks on both sides. Cover and refridgerate.

Soften/melt butter in microwave. Add parsley, garlic, ½ teaspoon ground mixed peppercorns, and lemon peel in small bowl. Stir together and let sit. Butter should begin to re-solidify.

15 minutes prior to cooking:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Pull swordfish steaks out of refridgerator to allow to warm up.

To cook:

Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle swordfish with ground mixed peppercorns. Add swordfish to skillet. Cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn swordfish over and transfer to oven. Roast until just cooked through, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer swordfish to plates. Add seasoned butter to same skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, scraping up browned bits, until melted and bubbling. Pour butter sauce over swordfish and serve. Source

Omelette Diaries

… a friend gave me an article about making a classic French omelette… it matched the procedure i have worked out over the past ten months to get consistent results which made me feel good…

… the one thing the author did differently was use a lid on the pan for a minute after it had been removed from the heat… this helps set the eggs on the top…

… i tried this in the omelette pictured above… results were good, though one minute, in my case, was a little too long… the eggs set too much and the interior creaminess was not as desired… i will try 30 seconds next time… i have found that interior creaminess is important to both a luxurious texture and to egg flavor intensity…

… it’s incredible to me that a dish made from such a simple set of ingredients and procedures is so nuanced and difficult to master… i will be coming up on one year of making omelettes almost every day at the end of October and i am pretty good at it, but not every day perfect… at this point, it is all about refinement… how long and high to preheat the pan, (3 min, 15 seconds on medium flame)… how long to stir and shake the omelette in the pan before letting it settle into a raft… how long to keep the heat on… how long to let it sit with the heat off to encourage consolidation of the liquid top into a creamy top… how to roll it up and get it out of the pan…

… all these questions have answers that are in the tens of seconds to a minute in a cooking process that takes a minute or two once the eggs hit the pan… the basic ingredients and procedures are simple… the development of nuanced judgement takes practice… and when you move to a different stove or pan, they have to be worked out all over again… the working out in that case is two or three omelettes to get it broadly right… then a few more to zero in on perfection…

First Thougths

… a good day yesterday…

… some research and thinking about web presence, nothing conclusive… assemblage of some ideas… the main decision being whether to have a news letter only, or a second blog site where more carefully composed writing happens…

… a good walk, photographs made and edited, there were some good ones…

… a nice dinner

  • mothership tomato salad
    • we will be making this salad numerous times in the coming weeks as the summer tomatoes are ripe in our garden and at the farmer’s market
  • lacinato kale and ricotta salata salad
    • this is a longtime favorite that features raw kale
  • pan fried crispy skin salmon
    • first time i have ever managed to crisp the skin and have it not stick to the cast iron skillet…
      • salmon in the pan before heating up
      • lots of canola oil
      • medium heat
      • finish in oven under the broiler…

… it was a perfect summer dinner that met my dietary goals, low animal fat, low carb…

the news from Heather Cox Richardson is of the more distressing kind this morning… 45 is consolidating power, continuing to divide the nation, trying to undermine the bi-partisan infrastructure bill… HCR wrote:

One of the hallmarks of a personality like that of former president Donald Trump is that he cannot stop escalating. It’s not that he won’t stop; it’s that he can’t stop. And he will escalate until someone finally draws a line and holds it.

… 45 needs to be god… he won’t stop trying to be god until someone draws that line and there are consequences for stepping over it… this is what bothers me so much… the inability of our governing system to hold him accountable… we have completely failed on that score and with every passing day that we continue our failure, the closer we come to a dictatorship… this is what keeps me awake at night…

Classic French Omelette Project

… as i have likely mentioned before, my pandemic project was to master the making of a classic french omelette… i am getting pretty good at it…

… a fissure on the top, not ideal… otherwise, good form…

Farmer’s Market Bounty

… planning on grilling some veggies… also, making some fennel frond pesto…

06 The Classic French Omelette Learning Curve:

… i make classic French omelettes on an almost daily basis in an attempt to develop my skill to the near perfect level… i have been doing this since last October and am getting pretty good at it…

… i complicated my quest by refusing to use a non-stick skillet, which are generally bad for the environment…

… after a great deal of research and trial and error, I bought an Iwachu large iron omelette pan… it was factory seasoned and largely non-stick out of the box, though instructions recommended the application of an appropriate food oil before first use, which i did…

… frequently, my omelettes have been sticking in the middle of the pan which is not a big problem, but i was trying to figure out why…

… making omelettes in a cast iron pan is a matter of a well seasoned pan and knowing how hot to get the pan before adding butter then eggs… i have it down to the point that i time the heating up of the pan… 3.5 minutes at medium heat on the large burner has been the routine…

… it occurred to me that the pan might not be getting hot enough in the middle of the pan, so i increased the preheat time to 4 minutes…

… no sticking this morning…

… i will repeat for the next several days to make sure that was the problem…

… a photograph of this morning’s omelette…

📷 🍽

07 Food Stuff:

A game changer…

… every now and again you learn something about preparing food that is transformational… one of those lessons came from watching Samin Nosrat on Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat… she told me to salt meat hours before you are going to cook it…

… nearly every recipe i have used for cooking a good cut of meat says salt and pepper just before cooking… no, no, no, no!… hours before!… liberally, joyously salt it and then put it in the fridge…

… pull it out a half hour before cooking to warm up… then cook away… no need to salt at the table, it’s already integral to the meat…