Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Slow Cooking Saturday

I didn't feel particularly ambitious this morning and I didn't feel like oatmeal either. I just scrambled up a couple of eggs in the leftover chicken drippings and had them with a piece of toast. Nothing fancy, but quite tasty.

A Simple, But Satisfying, Breakfast

I had another peanut butter and banana sandwich. Normally I wouldn't bore you with yet another picture, but this one was so beautiful that I couldn't resist.

A Work Of Art

Today was my day to roast my pork shoulder, which is always kind of a fun project.

Getting The Cold Shoulder

The last one was tasty, but a bit bland. I figured I would try to kick this one up a notch. Of course, with the limited spices available to me, I relied heavily on garlic.

Garlic, Of Course

Ah, but what to do with it. I chopped it up and threw it into my little mortar with some salt and pepper.

Prepare To Be Mashed

And Mashed It Was

Next I broke out a long slender knife and made several deep penetrations into the pork shoulder. I am glad I didn't buy a pork butt because talking about penetrating the butt would probably get my blog censored.

Maybe Incision Is A Better Word

Then I poked the garlic, salt, pepper mixture into the incisions.

No Comments, Please

This wasn't quite enough, though so I sliced up a few more cloves of garlic.

Sliced Garlic, How Exciting

Now, where should I put it. I made a deep pocket between the layer of skin and fat and the meat and stuffed it in there.

Here Is Where It Went

And, finally, I slathered the meat side with mustard.

All It Needs Is A Bun

I didn't use the dutch oven this time. Instead I just placed it on a rack over a roasting pan and stuck it into the oven. The oven was heated to 325 F and I let it cook to an internal temperature of 180F. It came out perfectly.

Camera Ready

I set it aside to rest for a bit before cutting into it. This is very important because it gives the juices time to be absorbed into the meat. If you cut into it too quickly they tend to run out.

While it was resting I cooked up some beans and rice. I cooked the rice like I usually do but just as the water started to boil I threw in a couple of spoonful's of the drippings from the pork. It adds a nice color and flavor.

A Nice Caramel Color

I did the old broccoli-on-top-of-the-rice trick to just steam it a little bit. When everything was done I sliced several pieces of the pork and plated it with the rice, beans, and broccoli.

Another Delightful Repast

I ate until I could eat no more and then put the beans and the rice that I couldn't eat into a container to have another day.


And, as you can imagine, I have a hell of a lot of pork left over as well. I would have some more tomorrow, but I am thawing out one of my "steaks." I think I will have a potato with my steak and then use the leftover potato with some of the pork and some onions, garlic, and a chopped carrot to make hash for my Monday breakfast.

My one big regret is that I can't have rabbit for my Easter dinner tomorrow.

I watched an interesting special on the restoration of the Beacon Theater. I couldn't figure out why it was on MSG until I realized that James Dolan was behind it. Sheesh, now I actually have to kind of like the guy a little bit, despite him ruining the Knicks (on their way to another 50 loss season). I will have to make a point of going to a concert there. The last time I went it was to see the Pogues and the place was a bit of a dump. From the special it looks like they did a hell of a job with the restoration.

Oh, did I mention that over the last five years the Knicks have the worst record in the NBA. You have to give them credit for this, they are no flash-in-the-pan.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Good Good Friday

Started the morning with a nice bowl of oatmeal with my usual dried bananas and raisins.

My Steaming Plop Of Glop

For lunch I changed my routine and had something a little different.

Can You See The Difference?

Very observant, it was the end of the loaf so I had the heel with my meal. If you are Observant, would you be allowed to read this today?

Taking A Bite Out Of Hunger

For dinner I decided to have a chicken leg and thigh and some pasta. To flavor the chicken I used some garlic and ginger.

The Ingredients

I broke out the Global knife that the Mysterious Chinese Woman gave me for Christmas one year. It is uber sharp, I one time sliced off a bit of my finger and didn't even feel it. I only use it for special occasions, like finely chopping stuff.

Finally Chopped Ginger And Garlic

Then I gently separated the skin from the chicken and stuffed in the chopped ginger and garlic.

There Really Should Be A Funny Caption

Next step was to simply brown the chicken and then lower the heat and let it fry.

Looking Good

Nothing special for the spaghetti sauce, just some garlic, onion, and some leftover pork fat that I chopped up.

Toss It All Into The Pan

I had half a can of leftover tomato sauce so after the onion and garlic were translucent I tossed it in.

The Sauce Is Almost Done

While the sauce was simmering I cooked up the pasta and when every thing was done it looked like this:

My Dinner

And, when it was all over, I had another bone for my bone bag.

Stock Worthy

I hit Met today to stock up on some more supplies, and here is what I ended up with.

Mostly Protein

I think I have all the meat that I will need for the rest of this month. I bought another pork shoulder, 6.89 pounds at 79 cents a pound for $5.44 and beef bottom round roast, 4.69 pounds at $1.99 a pound for $9.33.

I figured I could use a little beef in my diet and I cut off six steak sized slices from the roast.

Staking Myself To Steaks

These are pretty big cuts so it wouldn't surprise me if each of them lasted me for two days. They might be a little tough if I just fry or broil them. I think I will broil the first one and see how it turns out.

After cutting off the "steaks" I still had a good sized chunk that I will fix more like a traditional roast.

A Little Roast

I also bought a couple of sweet potatoes and a couple of Idaho potatoes for a total of $1.93. I kind of messed up on the bread though. I could have gotten two loaves for $5 but I just bought one and it cost me #3.44.

The total that I spent was $20.14 bringing my total expenditures to date to $99.62. Again, it might seem that I am over-budget, but when you figure that I probably have more then enough meat to last me through the month and, as I posted a couple of days ago, a lot of other stuff as well, I think I am in pretty good shape. I am one up on my grapefruits because I never got around to eating one today.

Tomorrow I will roast up the pork, even though I am hankering to try one of those steaks. Guess that will have to wait until Sunday.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Nothing Special

No great bursts of creativity today as I had a fairly routine spinach omelet for breakfast, my usual, and somewhat addictive peanut butter and banana sandwich for lunch, and leftover pork stew for supper.

This is the Bar Man's spinach cooking method.

Just Plop It In And Heat

Of course you need to add a bit of water and then put it on the stove.

This is just to give you an idea of how little, other than the spinach, you need to make a good-sized omelet. You can see I don't use a lot of cheese, just one egg, and I only used half the onion.

The Ingredients

I didn't get around to cleaning my frying pan last night after I fried up the chicken. But then I thought, Why let all of that stuff just go to waste?

Hmm, Too Good To Throw Away

Now, I know, some might say that isn't healthy to use something that has been sitting out all night. Well, when I was a kid just about everyone poured the fat at the bottom of the pan after cooking bacon into a coffee can. The can just sat on the counter and you used the fat whenever you fried anything. Lord only knows how old the fat at the bottom of the can was. Probably as old as the catsup in the bottom of the bottles in the restaurants where they continually top them off. I don't recall anyone getting sick though, at least not from bacon fat.

Whatever happened to eating bacon? It seems to me that we used to have it for breakfast almost every day. Damn, now I am getting hungry for it. I will have to check to see if I can squeeze a package into my budget.

Sauteing My Onions And Garlic In The Fat

After everything turned translucent, kind of a brown translucent, I simply threw in the rest of the ingredients.

Everything Into The Pan

After scrambling it all up, I had a mighty fine omelet.

The Finished Product

I did have to drain off a bit of liquid after I plopped it on the plate. I guess I didn't do a thorough enough job of straining the spinach. Next time I will squeeze it a bit before I throw it in.

As I said, for lunch I had my usual peanut butter and banana sandwich. If you want to see a picture you can look at one of my previous posts. I kind of made it and ate it in a hurry because I was in the middle of playing WoW and my group was in the middle of Uldaman.

For supper I dug out my leftover pork stew.

Leftover Stew

After heating it up in the microwave, it was as good as ever.

Simply Yummy

I had a grapefruit as an after dinner snack because I was too full after eating my omelet to have it for breakfast.

And thus ended the eighth day.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Waterfall Of Death - Another Update

Those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis, you know who you are, probably remember my criticism of the waterfall installation. One of my criticisms concerned the damage that was being done to nearby plant life as a result of the brackish spray the waterfalls produced. Well, my concerns were justified.

The April 4th edition of the Brooklyn Paper had this as their headline:

SILENT SPRING - It's official: W'falls were arborcidal maniacs

The gist of the article is that the damage done to many of the trees and plants at the River Cafe, situated next to one of the waterfalls, may have suffered permanent damage. Many of the trees, bushes, and plants appear to be dead. This is really a shame too, because the River Cafe had a beautiful garden and a staff to maintain it. Needless to say, there will probably be a lawsuit of some kind before this is all over. In the meantime, what used to be a cheery spot in Springtime as the trees came to life and the wisteria began to blossom now looks, well, desolate.

One Week Down

Today marked the end of the first week of my experiment and, in my opinion, it has gone quite well. I have learned a few things too. I learned that I really, really like peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Also, and somewhat to my surprise, I find that I quite enjoy a thick bowl of oatmeal with raisins and dried bananas. Go figure. And I have learned that, with a bit of creativity, you can produce some interesting and flavorful meals with a minimum of ingredients.

Oh, and I have learned that I quite like my coffee black. I used to drink it with milk and honey, but now I doubt if I will go back to that except as, perhaps, an occasional treat. Like a desert, or something.

Another bowl of oatmeal for breakfast this morning.

My Breakfast Makings

Oops, I forgot to take a picture until I was almost done.

Good To The Last Glop

For lunch I had yet another peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Nothing To See Here, Just Move Along

I decided that I would like to use some ginger with my chicken tonight so I picked up a good-sized piece for only 50 cents. I also replenished my grapefruit supply, buying a bag of six for $1.79.

Today's Splurge

I had one grapefruit left from my last bag and I decided that I would somehow incorporate that into my dinner.

A Guy's Just Got To Halve It

Then Juice It

Next I peeled a couple thumb-sized pieces of ginger.

Opposable Ginger

Ah, now what, you might ask. I decided to make a citrus and ginger infusion for my chicken. I simply put the sliced ginger into a small pan with the grapefruit juice. Then quickly brought it to a boil, reduced the heat, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

Simmering Away

After the simmering was done I strained out the juice, and then ate the ginger as kind of an afternoon snack. Quite tasty, if you really love ginger.

The Strain Was Beginning To Show

The Mysterious Chinese Woman bought me a nifty injector to use on meats and I figured this was a good time to put it to use once again. I filled it up with the grapefruit juice and ginger infusion.

This Won't Hurt A Bit

The leg and thigh were a bit plumper after the Angelina Jolie treatment.

I Only Have Thighs For You

Then I assembled everything I needed for my evening meal. If you remember, when I first cooked up my pork shoulder I saved the drippings. Tonight I decided to use them.

My Dinner, Some Assembly Necessary

Here is how I cook my rice, courtesy of Jeff Smith. I put twice as much liquid as rice into a pot and then add the rice. Then I bring it to a boil and stir it just until the rice starts to swell up a bit. Once it starts to swell I turn the heat down low and cover the pot and just let it sit undisturbed for 15 minutes. Last step, turn off the heat and let it sit for another 10 minutes. Perfect rice every time.

This time I used the drippings for the liquid. I used half a cup of rice and, as luck would have it, had exactly one cup of the drippings. The only variation to the above this time was that after the 15 minutes I took off the top and threw in the broccoli and then put the top back on.

Steaming The Broccoli

While all that was going on I simply seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper and then browned it on both sides in a frying pan with a little olive oil and then let it fry for about half an hour.

The Finished Product

The chicken was quite good. The grapefruit juice and ginger infusion gave it a nice little zing. If I did it again I might use a bit of soy sauce, but that wasn't on my budget this time around.

I saved the bones this time too, for future use in a stock.

My Stock And Trade

Okay, time for a little check on my progress. So far I have spent $79.48, but I have a lot to show for it. I still have four chicken legs and thighs left, way more than enough rice to last the rest of the month, half of my beans, three packages of spinach, half of my broccoli, half of my carrots, half of my cheese. A dozen eggs are still sitting in the refrigerator along with half the tomato sauce that I used for my pasta. Oh, and I have a bit over a box and a half of pasta left. I still have about six slices of bread left, four bananas, half a jar of peanut butter and a half dozen grapefruits. And, all of my condiments will last me through the month, including, now, ginger.

I am pretty sure I have enough oatmeal to last the month along with, I think, enough raisins. I may have to buy some more dried bananas though. I am not sure about the coffee, but that might make it through the month as well. I am down to just one mug in the morning most days now.

I also have tomorrow night's dinner sitting in the refrigerator, the leftovers from the stew I made.

So far I think I am looking pretty good. I will have to buy some more meat to supplement my remaining chicken and, eventually, will have to buy another package of chicken. Also some different vegetables to break up the routine. Maybe some beets or something. I should get a couple of potatoes too, sweet potatoes I think. I will certainly need another couple bags of onions and, probably, another package of garlic.

Well, there you go. Not a bad start, if I do say so myself. I certainly haven't felt any hunger pangs. If I do feel like a snack I simply eat a carrot. I think I actually feel a bit more energetic, but that is probably due to not drinking. It wouldn't surprise me if I lost a few pounds this month, which would be fine with me. Again, this won't be because I am not eating enough, it will be due to not having any beer. Funny thing, I don't really miss the beer, but the month is still young. I did have a couple glasses of champagne at my niece's birthday party, though.