Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

18 Years. Down the drain.

Some of you know, I am a vegetarian. Was a vegetarian. I say “was” because in the last two weeks, I have had three bites of three different types of animals. All of these animals came from our farm* so I felt OK with the ethics of eating them. They lived a good life. They died a dignified death. (Since I’m thinking about it, put that on my tombstone, please: “She lived a good life, she died a dignified death.”) And I also really, really wanted to use the Le Creuset cocotte that my supremely-talented-at-gift-giving husband got me for Christmas. I was really, really excited about the Le Creuset.

*Technically, one was just passing through the farm, on her way back to her deer family.

So what magical creatures drew me out of 18 years of vegetarianism? In order: rabbit, deer, goat. Yeah, pretty much the three cutest animals on a farm. This is further proof that my heart is black and shriveled. Really though, we raise the rabbits for dog meat. They are fast growers and take very little to get a lot of high quality meat. They are pretty much the perfect homesteader’s meat. If, that is, you can get past their adorable little faces. The goat was also bought as dog food. We brought him home as a little guy and raised him into a strapping young buck. Then just before he turned in to a jerk (as all billy goats do) we killed him. I named him Meat, just in case anyone questioned his fate. It could have been worse. I could have named him Sue. The ghost of Johnny Cash just rolled his eyes.

The rabbit is what started it all. Cpt. Morgan, who is living with us while learning French for the Army and I *PAUSE* This is going to get confusing if you don’t read the post I wrote about her last year. This is not a sign of my alcoholism; it’s her legit name. There are other signs of my alcoholism. Hiccup *UNPAUSE* were at the rabbit killer’s farm getting the rabbits slaughtered when the rabbit killer convinced Cpt. Morgan (can we call her Toni? We’re going to call her Toni) that she had to try the rabbit. Toni was very excited about the idea of eating our home raised meat. She might also have been suffering a severe protein deficiency after her first two weeks with us. I’ll be honest; I was pretty excited about cooking a rabbit. I enjoy cooking. I had recently been reading Jacques Pepin’s memoir, which had in it, aunt’s rabbit recipe. It sounded like the type of hearty, French provincial fare I dream of. Those French country dwellers really know how to cook. So I agreed to have one of the rabbit’s slaughtered for human consumption.

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We waited the requisite three days for the meat to relax, then set out to turn our little friend into braised rabbit en cocotte with mustard sauce. The recipe came from The Apprentice, by Jacques Pepin. I’m not going to put the recipe down here. I don’t want his publishers to sue me. There are several recipes in the book, though it’s not a cookbook. It’s a fun memoir and I highly recommend you buy it, if only for the rabbit recipe. Basically, it’s rabbit braised, cooked to falling off the bone tenderness, in white wine, then finished with a cream and Dijon sauce. Run, don’t walk, to Amazon, right now. We did a couple of things differently than the recipe. First, I wasn’t sure if I was going to eat any rabbit so we attempted to make the stuffing separately. This was facilitated by the smaller Le Creuset casoulet Dave got me, with my larger cocotte. You like how I keep throwing that in there? My Le Creuset. MY Le Creuset. I’ve wanted one for the longest time, I just couldn’t bring myself to shell out the bucks and I definitely didn’t expect one (two!) for Christmas this year. Anyway, the world’s best bakeware couldn’t save the stuffing. We burned the living bejeezus out of it. We tried to save it by adding more water and drinking more wine. It sort of worked. But the rabbit was a whole different matter. It was brilliantly. If you cook, you know how terrifying it can be to try a new recipe, especially if you have never actually eaten the main component of the recipe. Everything with the rabbit was like cooking in a fantasy, Food Network show. It browned perfectly. I added way too much wine but better too much than not enough wine. The vegetable were cooking exactly on schedule, in the same pot as the rabbit, and looked lovely in the Le Creuset. Come on. You knew I had to say it again. I was in the zone. We had Brussels sprouts as a side. Below, you may oogle the dishes as they cook.

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Yes, that is my Le Creuset. Have you heard about it? I got it for Christmas.

End of this part of the story: The rabbit was delicious. Rabbit is all white meat, which makes it like the tofu of the animal world. It tasted like Dijon and cream. I love Dijon mustard and feel that Dijon will make any dish better, especially if the Dijon is stone ground, with huge mustard seeds!

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Since this is a really long story, we still have two more animals to go through, and I have a short attention span, I am going to pause for the evening and finish the rest of this story tomorrow. Or the next day. Definitely this year, unlike the last story about digging up Sheldon’s head, in which all the photos for that were on Dave’s computer that died, so you will never see the end of the story. I know, always an excuse. Just subscribe to the blog, so you don’t have to check in and get disappointed. Or just check back the day after tomorrow to get the rest of the story, disappointment free.

This Stove Will Kick Your Ass and Take Your Lunch Money

Or at least, that’s the impression I’m under after downloading the manual and specs sheet. Apparently, our stove has some demands or it will burn the house down. Good thing I looked up a manual before sparking up.

Like most of our larger household appliance purchases, the stove came from a Craigslist ad. It was love at first sight. I wanted a Wolf but I certainly don’t have the money for Wolf. This range had “the look” and the brand was one I recognized from Napa commercial kitchens. It was advertised as an American Range stove/oven combo with four burners and a two burner griddle. It’s former life was spent in a hippie commune where it was installed in a greenhouse turned mess hall. (Which is a brilliant way to use your greenhouse if you aren’t going to grow things.) The property had sold and was being turned into a meadery (a winery which produces meade.) I fell in love with the back story. If there’s anything I love more than bad ass appliances, it’s bad ass appliances with a story.

It was in Point Reyes which is a decent drive from here. Convinced I had found the perfect stove at the perfect price, I asked my beloved to clear his Saturday for a road trip, hooked up the motorcycle trailer and headed north. In the Dave/Marsha road trip tradition, the trip took three times longer than it should have due to inclement weather and navigational difficulties. By difficulties, I mean I get lost even with a nav system and I always take Dave down with me. However, if one is to be lost, there is no finer place to be lost than the area between Santa Cruz and Point Reyes. Long story short, we met the stove, fell in love, loaded it onto the trailer using a fork lift, then went to Napa to see Sarah where we pawned off an old couch we didn’t need and had amazing food. The stove came with a bottle of meade which  ended up getting poured down the sink because it tasted like someone drank paint thinner, vomited it back up and put it in a bottle. It’s only redeeming feature was it was a sparkling meade, so it bubble and fizzed its way down the sink. I hope the owner of the meadery never reads this but if he does, I hope he accepts this gift of feedback.I digress. Then I digressed again. Back the the stove.

Fast forward…The stove spent the last two years in the shipping container storage unit (also from Craiglist) and had to be moved inside by professional appliance movers. Turns, the stove was loaded in the trailer with a forklift because it weights 631 pounds. I would venture to say, a large portion of the weight has to do with this:

No, not the layer of dirt and schmutz which adds at least 10 pounds to the surface (cut me some slack, we live in a construction zone. Schmutz is our life.) I suspect a good bit of the weight comes from the cast iron burners and the half-inch thick piece of iron which is the griddle. *Excuse me while I swoon.* Like any girl, I am attracted to bad boys and this stove is the baddest of bad boys. I know this because I looked it up today.

We are ready to hook up the stove. (Yay for cooking inside and not having to use the grill as an oven, which can be done with some degree of difficulty.) Before we install the stove permanently, we need to fix a leg of the stove. We bought it knowing it had a minor issue:

Arg, sharkey! Ye weren’t expectin’ a pirate stove now were ye? That’s right the stove came with a peg leg.

I spent the morning online looking at the indecipherable parts catalogs, with no pictures, trying to find the damn leg. Finally, I gave up and called American Range. Parts rep says it’s company policy that they won’t release the parts numbers over the phone but they will send a parts diagram with the parts numbers to my email. Huh? Whatever, just send the list. (Which they did so immediately. Good customer service, parts guy.) The list also came with a specs sheet and the specs sheet made me weak in the knees. Then it made me concerned for my safety. This stove is from their commercial series. (Who knew?) Along with weighing enough that we need to reinforce our floor, it is also capable of pumping out 32,000 BTUs per burner. PER BURNER! To put it in perspective, your average kitchen stove runs about 7,000 BTU and some stoves have a special high heat burner for your pasta pot which runs at 12,000 BTU. The entire power of my last stove is contained in one single burner of the new stove. If Tim the Tool Man Taylor were here, there would be much grunting.

Then I get to the end of the specs sheet where it says this:

Clearances: For use only on non-combustible floors. Legs or casters are required, or 2” (51) overhang is required when curb mounted. Clearance from non-combustible
walls is 0”. When unit is placed next to combustible walls, clearances must exceed 12” (305) on sides, and 4” (102) from rear.

It’s a good thing I read that because the stove is going in the island. I could have burned the whole house down while trying to can tomato sauce (which by the way, I can hardly wait to do.) The island is to be made of wood, mostly reclaimed redwood paneling from the side of the house. Wood is combustible. Old wood is really combustible. I’m also a little bit unclear as to whether this means that the legs are enough that the stove won’t burn through the wood floor  or if we need a non combustible material under the entire unit. What I also don’t know, is how much non-combustible material is enough to keep the island from going up in flames.

All this pondering has really put a damper on my stove fantasies like the one where me and the stove are preparing dinner on a secluded beach in Belize. In my fantasy, the stove no longer has a peg leg and it’s not being used as storage for all of the kitchen utensils we have bothered to unpack.

My ultimate fantasy? This stove, installed in the island, right here, with walls and cabinets and all of those other kitchenly items surrounding it, while Dave and I cook for our family and friends. Is anyone else getting warm?

I guess I’ll start by ordering the leg and cleaning the cobwebs out of the inner workings. One of these days, we’re going to hook the gas and burn baby burn.