Warpaint has been one of my favorite bands for quite a while now, despite the fact that I only have five proper songs by them, the ones on their Exquisite Corpse EP from last year. In fact, there tune Billie Holiday was a close contender for song of the year in my opinion. They played a one-off gig last night with Zola Jesus, both in the midst of a supporting tour for the xx, at the Holocene here in Portland, OR. I arrived just in time to see the last song of the ZJ set, who bounced and lolled her wispy frame—draped in sheets of fabric and apparently glowing—around the stage in what appeared to be a slow-motion fit of hysteria, so I’m not sure what I missed there. It could have been either captivating of grotesquerie. The room was packed, but as is de rigueur the room cleared out post set so that everyone could get their smoke on. Grabbing a beer, I headed up to the front of the stage, which is the only place to see a rock show, unless you have the option of sitting outside in a lawn chair with an unobstructed view of the stage, on a beautiful crisp summer’s evening. I’m just saying that there’s always an exception, especially when you start to get old.
Warpaint began with Set Your Arms Down, a song that starts out with slow down-tempo atmospherics, but steadily progresses into a pretty heavy jam. From there on it was all over, and what I mean is I can barely remember anything about the set, except that it was entirely awesome, every song was killer, and well played. All the ladies in this band seemed like they could just play solid rock in true command of their instruments. Below, I’ve included the set list with links to a video for each song if there was a decent quality recording available. For the best representation of how incredible this band is onstage, check the last, live video for elephants. And, if you can catch them any time in the next year, you should jump at the chance, because these ladies are going to blow up for sure. They’re already on that trajectory. Their album The Fool is due to be released next month, Oct. 25th.
Set List, with links to version of the songs when available:
• Set Your Arms Down
• Burgundy (passable concert footage)
• Elephants or Official Video (but the live version kills it!)
Pan-to-Oven Pork Chops with Garlic
My main culinary victim, Gabrielle, and I have chosen a rather suspect New Year’s Resolution this time around, and many of you may not believe it, what with the promise of this project, but I’ll tell you anyway. Our original plan was to only eat meat once a week, and thus in concert with one of the recipe’s in this book for each week’s meaty meal. However, we have since revised the resolution to include meat once a week at each of the three basic meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which sounds a little more reasonable, but from the perspective of this big ass poke chop in my belly, perhaps still a bit insane. But we’ll see how it goes. My premier recipe post from The River Cottage Meat Book is this wonderful, and really quite simple, pork chop recipe. To be sure, it is actually more of a technique than a recipe; one that works with incredible results. As Hugh writes, “the cheffy phrase for this is pan-roasting,” and it involves searing the meat on both sides for a couple of minutes on the stove-top, and then moving it into a hot oven to finish it off. It works for all kinds of thick cuts of meat, such as ribeye’s, or even whole chicken breast, and works so well because it widens the finish time for the meat a little bit because of the indirect nature of the heat inside the oven.
We are lucky to have a fantastic, relatively young pork producer here in Portland that goes by the name Tails & Trotters. As you can see in the picture above, they produce some pretty intense chops, and most of the other cuts I’ve seen from their operation have been equally exciting. The owner’s of the company, Aaron Silverman and Morgan Brownlow, started the venture with the intention of growing a superior animal in order to produce a high quality Northwest prosciutto, which I do not think is available for sale yet, but am eagerly anticipating. I am only just beginning to understand the thought and methods one has to devise in order to grow pigs (and all other meat producing animals, i’m sure) a certain way, and to a specific criteria, so I won’t try to explain any of the details quite yet. However, I will note that Tails & Trotters finishes, meaning to fatten-up before harvesting, their hogs with a heavy diet of hazelnuts, thus creating the beautiful, and actually quite healthy in moderation, fatty layers necessary for their prosciutto purposes. I hope to learn more about this company, and pork production in the months to come. In the meantime, this blog will certainly see the use of more Tails & Trotters pork!
To cook the chops, you will need a ton of garlic, 1 cup of white wine or hard cider, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Preheat the oven to around 425 with an empty pan in there large enough to hold the chops, but small enough to prop up the fatty sides from out of the bottom. Very Important: Don’t forget that that pan is hot later on. In fact, never forget that anything coming out of the oven will be extremely hot. It happens, so I’m just reminding ya’ll. I’ve been burnt like that, and I know I’m not alone.Meanwhile, break apart a few heads of garlic, leaving the cloves in the skin. The book calls for 1 large head, or two small heads, but I recommend two or three times as much as that, as there never seems to be enough garlic to go around, and I’m talking about how there’s only two of us at the table, so if there were three or more peeps then you’d definitely want to up the garlic. Lightly crush the cloves under a knife, just enough to crack the skins, not to flatten them out-right. Heat up some Olive oil at medium, to medium-high heat in a pan large enough to accommodate the entirety of the chops flatly on the surface. Once the oil is sufficiently hot, throw in the garlic and toss it a round for a minute or so, then salt and pepper one side of the chops, move the garlic into a pile, and fit the chops into the pan. While the first side browns, salt and pepper the other side, and after a minute or two, flip the chops over, and brown the other side. Remove the hot pan from the oven and arrange the chops and garlic into it so that the fatty ends are up out of the bottom. This is to allow the heat in the oven to crisp up and caramelize the fat. Then, up the heat all the way in the original pan, pour in one cup of the white wine or hard cider, and scrap up all the brown bits and so on, and allow the liquid to reduce by about half. This is called deglazing, and it’s a cornerstone of sauce-making. Once the liquid has reduced, pour it over the chops, and into the oven they go. Allow to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, but never longer than 20, and that’s a wrap on the chops. The deglazed sauce will thicken up and blend with the pork fat and garlic, and act as a braise for the chops, ensuring that they won’t dry out even a bit. The garlic easily pops out their skins, and are nice and roasted, and as i noted before, there are never enough of these tasty, decadent morsels. Gabrielle says that these pork chops speak for themselves, and they do, yes they do.
I served the chops with braised cabbage and simple boiled potatoes. To make the Cabbage you will need a whole red or green cabbage, an onion, a bay leaf, salt, pepper, sherry vinegar, and an apple. Take the cabbage, cut it in half and core it. Then, slice it as thinly as possible. Do the same with the onion. Heat some sort of oil or (duck ) fat in a large pot or dutch oven, and cook the onion for about 5 minutes or so. Add the cabbage, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste, the vinegar, and a half cup of water. If the cabbage doesn’t fit all at once, add it batches by allowing it to cook down for a few minutes. Once it is all in the pot, cover it and turn the heat down, and allow to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Take the apple, peal and grate it, and once the cabbage has braised for the alloted time mix it into the cabbage, and allow to cook for an addition 5 minutes. That’s the cabbage. It’s from Chez Panisse Vegetables.
Next up, after I recover from this pork chop, I am planning to do the Provençal Daube recipe, which is basically a light beef stew. In other words, it is another of the somewhat less adventurous recipes in the book. But just so you know, I’m only doing these ones to get warmed up–expect brains and a whole pig’s head in the future!
Resources: Pork Chops produced by Tails & Trotters and purchased at Laurelhurst Market, garlic and Samuel Smith Organic Cider from Pastaworks, Cabbage, Onion, Apple from Limbo, and Potatoes from Trader Joe’s
Link to Recipe Only blog.
I have finally had a successful attempt at baking a bit of bread! Randomly deciding to have another go at it the other day, I found that the only recipe I had on hand was the Brioche in my copy of the French Laundry Cookbook, and so that’s what I made. Above is a photo of all the ingredients required, with the exception of the yeast, which I didn’t realize had been excluded from the photo until deep into the rising process. It’s OK, though, as it was just your run of the mill yeast. In the past, I have tried and failed to make a decent loaf of bread approximately once a year, for the past five years, and have previously been so dismayed by the results that it would take the ensuing year for me to build up the courage to try again. However, that epoch has now passed. As can be seen below, it is basically perfect– the crumb, the crust–what more can I ask for? This is the bread that the Croque Madame is intended to go on, but in the past instead of just biting the bullet and making my own, I would spend hours trying to find a decent loaf at some bakery or another (a surprisingly difficult item to find.) Nevermore!
Well on Sunday, I had to come up with something to do while the bread was rising, so Gabrielle and I decided to venture on over to Mississippi Ave. (Portland, OR). We were delighted to happen upon the new food cart village, the Mississippi Marketplace that has sprung up over there. I had heard about it peripherally because a lot of folks were stoked about Jesse Sandoval’s cart Nueva Mexico being there, but I didn’t really give it much thought beyond that. However, the digs are pretty sweet. There’s a huge canopy tent down the center with tons of tables for adults and children, and the whole lot is out-fitted with some pretty incredible looking carts. I ordered the Carne Adovada Sopapilla from Nueva Mexico, because the suspense was killing me, and I just had to get it over with. Naw! The real reason was that last winter I tried to use ‘sopa’ as a word for a kind of sandwich in a game of Scattagories and was denied by a one Christy Linden who stated, if I remember correctly, that it was soup! Honestly, I didn’t know what a sopa(pilla) was either, but now I have to say that it could pass for a type of sandwich in a game of Scattagories. It’s basically a piece of fried, lightly sweetened dough that’s filled with things. It might depend on what your definition of bread is. I hear someone around here has a cheeseburger on on a glazed VoodooDoughnut, so where does that argument end? Anyway, it was a pretty good plate, all and all, but what really made it for me was the pinto beans. Those were killer. What happened was that now I’m going to have to chill out on all these canned beans and get off my duff and make some fresh beans from scratch. Simply incomparable.
Gabrielle visited the cart named Ruby Dragon. They served up a pretty awesome never-ending cup of maté, and the special that day was very tasty—ginger quinoa blueberry gluten-free pancakes with a side of yammies. However, I have to say that if circumstances dictate that your costumer will have to wait upwards of 30 minutes (1 of 3 costumers at the time), and then only receive a single pancake (for $8), thus rejecting almost everyone’s idea of the term ‘pancakes’, then in my opinion a bit of a strategic overhaul is in order. Gabrielle thinks that what happened was that they had run out of her first choice, and then she decided on the special as her second choice, and that they didn’t want to admit that they had run out of her second choice also, and therefore scrambled to make more, instead of simply admitting that they were out of the pancakes as well. My take is that if you are out of something, at least as a food cart, then that is a good thing. It means that people are buying your food in numbers greater than you expected them to, which is a totally awesome scenario for a couple of reasons, but one that stands out in these circumstances is that you will be able to exuberantly tell costumers that arrive after you have sold out that they were so popular that you SOLD OUT of them! Anyway, it was really good, but took way too long to arrive, and we were expecting at least two. That, and excellent maté.
Next we meandered down Mississippi weaving in and out of specialty shops, reading menus here and there, wandering through the ReBuilding Center (which helped us realize that we know nothing about houses, among other things) with our ultimate destination being The Meadow. Ahhh, where to begin with this one. Gabrielle is still mulling it over. We learned many things about salt on Sunday at The Meadow, a salt specialty shop, but specifically we discovered that the universal acceptance of kosher salt (an agent of dessication) as Salt was equivalent to the universal acceptance of, say, “infanticide”. When asked if that might be a bit of a stretch, Mark Bitterman, owner, Selmelier, and crusader for overexageration replied with a “hmmm. . . I don’t think so.” Later on we learned from a second source, a one General Patrick Ripton, that “people who use kosher salt are indeed not like Hitler, but in fact are Hitler.” I’d like to remind everyone that we’re talking about salt here, or rather, Salt and Sodium Chloride. Where does that leave us? From now on, every time I blanch vegetables or boil pasta will I have to face the consequences of essentially being a baby killer? That’s a lot of guilt, and I’m so desperate that I actually bought some of the fancy salt.
When we got back home the brioche was bursting over the rim of the bread pan, begging to be baked, and so I obliged its need. For the next 35 minutes I drank a cup of coffee, and did a lot of nail biting. You’d think I’d reinvented the zipper or something, I was so ecstatic to pull such an awesome loaf from the oven. To celebrate, I made this Grilled Ham & Cheddar Sandwich on it:
1 This isn’t actually the first full slice from the loaf it’s the 3rd. With the first full slice I tried something that had intrigued me when I saw it on the daily board at Addy’s Sandwich Bar: Chocolate, Sea Salt, and Olive Oil. While the bread was still warm, I broke off 3 pieces of a Chocolove Toffee & Almonds 33% Milk Chocolate bar (a brand of bar which comes packaged with a love poem), laid them out width-wise along the bottom of the slice, drizzled them in Olive Oil, and sprinkled a bit of the fancy salt, namely the Fleur de Sel de Guérande from my Finishing Salts starter kit from the Meadow, folded it in half, and ate, polishing the half-sammy off in three bites, one for each chocolate square. The experience was sweet, and savory with just the right amount of textural crunch from the toffee bits and salt. Addy prepares hers on a small baguette from Little t bakery, which I suspect is probably a better bread match for the combination, being that baguettes are much chewier and crustier than a brioche could ever hope to be, the chewiness and crustiness of which I can’t help but think would lend a textural component that would be unparelled in this paricular combination of ingredients.
2 The cheese used here is Black Diamond White Cheddar, the sharpest that was for sale at Pastaworks. It was good, but not any different than Tillamook, really, which I think I’ll stick with in the future because it has a better price point, and is a bit more local than Canada.
3 The onion slices are from a Purple Torpedo, which I could not help but try because of it’s fantastic shape. Surely, these must be a cross between a shallot, and a red onion, because indeed it resembled a shallot multiplied by a factor of 4 or 5, and sported a coat somewhere in between the purple skin of the red onion, and the bronze skin of a shallot. The flavor profile leaned more towards that of a shallot, however, being quite strong, and pungent. Recommended for those who truly love a powerful onion.
4 A good smoked ham is hard to find. I can’t even count on three fingers the times that I have eaten truly unforgettable ham, and here I’ve been able to purchase some of the best caliber from the butcher at Pastaworks, just across the street from me, and I hadn’t even realized it. In the past I have bought Boar’s Head, which is fine, I guess, but nothing special. It’s your basic deli meats. The difference is that the ham pictured above is extrordinary, and it is less expensive. It’s sourced from Voget Meats in Hubbard, OR, a mere 30 minutes outside of Portland. I’m tempted to make a trip down there on my next day off work, but I’d be hard pressed to eat a 16 lb smoked ham on my own. But still, I am indeed tempted.
5 I try not to buy too many products sourced from other countries (with the exception of salt, haha), but in the case of this avocado, I was hoodwinked. The sign said it was of Californian variety, but later on as I peeled off the ‘Purity’ tag I read there in tiny font that the source was instead Chile. I’m don’t feel as much guilt about this misstep as I do about my decidedly suspect support of infanticide, but there is a pang, meaning that I think about it, but then let it fall from concioussness, and try to do better next time. I did a search in order to try and find the correct term for the outer layer of the avocado, be it the skin, or peel, or what have you, and came upon this page, hosted at avocadosource.com, “dedicated to the dissemination of avocado knowledge” (this being the type of statement which always kills me, because it never ceases to amaze that there is always someone to disseminate any information that you could ever dream of.) In the article they refer to the avocado as a berry, which surprised me a great deal, and that the scientific term for the outer layer is the exocarp, but the skin or rind are acceptable for layman’s terms. What struck me most in the article (from the 1940’s) was that there was a participant by the name of Haas A.R.C., and what I thought was, well, Haas, that is the leading seller of avocado’s right? The Haas Avocado. But right now, I’m having trouble coming to terms with the idea that a ‘Haas’ Avocado doesn’t exist, and that I am just one of many, many people who have fallen for the common misspelling, as the ‘Hass’ Avocado wikipage, and website are leading me to believe. There is an incongruity here that I need to solve, and only close observation at the grocery stores will be able to solve this for me. In any case, I web searched the ‘Haas’ avocado, a search I made because the study lists 5 varieties of avocados that were included in the research, and in my mind, I can only think of one variety by name (the Haas), and the first hit was the Hass site, a company whose flippant motto (for any one who cares about seasonality, or at least the grossly absurd idea of a winter tomato) , or slogan, is “Always in Season.” Is it? Are they. . . always in season? They can’t possibly be, and if they are, at what cost? The avocado season is spring. That means that in the Northern hemisphere they fruit and ripen sometime around April, give or take a few months. I just learned that myself, so we’re together here, unless of course you are a seasonality wonk. For the normal, everyday grocery shopper, the idea of seasonality doesn’t exist. If it’s in the store, it means that it’s growing somewhere, and that’s the end of the thought process–it’s available, so lets eat it. Which brings us around to the fact that the avocado I bought was shipped here from Chile, a distance of 5,500 miles by sea, where it is Spring now, so that I, and many others in this hemisphere, could eat one in the fall. Is all that matters is that it is in season somewhere?
6 More cheese, with a sprinkling of fancy salt.
7 I butter the bread before it goes in the pan. I did the same with the first slice, too. I used to heat the pan up and butter it just before I laid the sandwich into it, but those days are gone. It always led to inconsistent toasting, and to rebutter the pan in between the flip was always a pain to me. Once I discovered the joys of spreadable butter, that antiquated technique fell from the repertoire.
8 The consistent result of pre-buttering is pretty evident in this photo
9 Sometimes I have trouble deciding what I’d like to go with my sandwiches. In this case, I went with a handful of Kettle Chips, and fresh black radish chips paired with a sprinkling of Turkish Black Pyramid salt. I think that in reality it should be one, or the other. Choosing both is a product of my inability, at times, to make simple, sound decisions, instead opting to bounce between one option and the next until they become so blurred and indistinct that the only course is to choose either all or nothing. So I’m left considering all my choices in an interminable debate with inconsequential results. Gabrielle thinks that this carries over into a lot of my blog posts, her prime example being the one concerning our cat, Rigel. In other words, she called me long-winded. So in response, I decided to footnote this post so that I could further articulate some of the things that were on my mind without them impinging on the general trajectory of the post-prime. I think that there are readers who read footnotes, and readers who don’t, which is surely an important distinction in readers, and an important decision that those individual readers have made for themselves. I had a roommate who read Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and skipped all the fancy parts, and loved it, where as I found the book an unreadable bore, and I’m a fan of footnotes. One of the reasons that I’m doing this, I think, is that I just read The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker, and it renewed my admiration for the footnote. I had been living under a false assumption (perhaps the second that I’ve recognized this week!) that David Foster Wallace revolutionized the use of footnotes, but how untrue. While he certainly didn’t invent the footnote, it would seem that Baker is reponsible for elevating them to a higher status as a literary devise. DFW simply took it and went fucking crazy with the idea.
One of the bloggers that I subscribe to, The Portland Pickle, recently posted a link to this article in GOOD Magazine. After viewing such an eclectic range of refrigerators and their contents, I just could not resist photographing my own. I guess I feel that it is rather pedestrian as far as fridges go, but that’s probably because I gaze longingly into it so often for something that is not there that I am no longer struck by either it’s beauty or disgrace. I feel that at present it is in a rather stripped down state, and also rather color coordinated, which I did not notice until snapping the photos. I’m sorry if my refrigerator is more stylish than your own, but them’s the breaks, kid!
Incidentally, the photographer for this refrigerator project, Mark Menjivar is going to have an exhibit here in Portland at Ampersand, that begins at the end of September and runs through the month of October.
Usually when I go out to see a gig I can hardly walk on my own, but lately I’ve given up on drinking for a couple of reason, and so I ventured out this past Sunday to see Indian Jewelry at the Holocene in Portland, OR in single-vision bliss. The only real downside to this is that there was only one Erika Thrasher instead of two (or three!) However, their stage show generally remedy’s the deficit with its chaotic strobe light madness, and brilliant pummeling bass lines. The last time I checked them was in Atlanta at the Eyedrum, where they were admittedly way the eff further out, but on the other hand, the crowd at that show weren’t a gaggle of art school fashionistas with actual turkey feathers up their ass. I like double entendres, and the Holocene picked a good one–I generally can’t stand the people it draws, it’s such a hollow scene (ha ha!) Basically, it was me and two other girls up front loosing our minds or something, while just about everybody else sulked or posed. People should stay home and sulk. Or at least stay in the bar area. Maybe I’m just not arty enough? I spend most of my free time staring at my tomato plants or ranting about scenes, so that could be the case.
Indian Jewelry is a noise band from Houston, TX, that’s been around for quite a while now. I personally don’t think ‘noise band’ is an apt description; post-apocalyptic pop band is better. They’re kind of like The Velvet Underground, Spaceman 3, and Iggy Pop all wrapped into one package, and they outshine their noise band contemporaries because their songs have real substance, like hooks and melodies. The core members are Erika Thrasher and Tex Kerschen, around which an endless roster of musicians orbit, sometimes changing as often as tour date to tour date as they travel from city to city. Being prone to such mutability, it’s always a surprise what you’re in for at one of their shows, and a good reason to never miss them when they come to your town. On the off-chance that you like the song in the video below, it can be found on their album Invasive Exotics, which is all killer. Going South is for my money their best track. They have many, but I owe this tune a special debt of gratitude for helping me push across that dense, humid, sludgy/swampy wasteland in the eastern part of North Carolina last summer when I rode my bike across is. I guess technically I was headed east, but that’s neither here nor there. When this song is pumping full blast into your head, you won’t know or care where you are.
This video is from a show they played a while back in an abandoned mansion somewhere. Make sure that your computer speakers are turned up all the way. Also, don’t play this if you are prone to epileptic seizures (not joking.)
This one is Pork Tenderloin Confit, with Braised Cabbage, Applesauce, and Blue Cheese, on a Brioche Roll. When I first came up with the idea for this, I thought to myself that it was a late fall kind of sandwich, Sunday dinner on a roll. Well, it could be, but it also proved to be a Saturday spring picnic in the park kind of sandwich. Strange but true, it was both, depending on whether it is prepared hot or cold. Another thing that struck me was how similar it is to the last sandwich I made, the Pork Belly Reuben. It’s almost like the two are fraternal twins or something, except this sandwich was a star pupil and a model citizen, while the other had a penchant for 8 balls and hookers. But they both turned out alright, and no, I haven’t forgotten we’re talking about sandwiches here.
I turned to Charcuterie yet again for the rub in this recipe, and it was indeed this book that influenced the creation of this sandwich, with its talk of how confited pork loin is an “amazing cold cut”. I couldn’t resist the temptation so I bought a tenderloin from Trader Joe’s and rubbed it down, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and put it in the refrigerator for two days. To confit something is to poach it in fat; to fully submerge the meat in fat and to cook it at a low temperature for a long time, until it is fork-tender. This technique creates an incredibly rich, perfectly cooked product. The only trouble is that it takes a while. It’s not hard, though, on the contrary it is mind-bogglingly easy in terms of the results you can achieve. It does require that you keep a ton of rendered fat on hand. There is that: you have to be willing to keep a few pounds of fat in the fridge or freezer.
The Braised Cabbage and the Applesauce recipes come from the Chez Panisse Vegetables and the Chez Panisse Fruit cookbooks respectively. These are both wonderful books, and ones I turn to again and again for inspiration and guidance when I am faced with the conundrum of figuring out what the hell to do with God’s bounty. They rarely let me down. I make the braised cabbage all the time. It is so easy and a full-sized cabbage can last quite a while. It’s a wonderfully healthy thing to have on hand, and its great for dishing out a good old fashioned Ukrainian Gasmask to your better half. Making applesauce is even easier, and it’s interesting to mess around with different kinds of apples. The possibilities are endless!
For the Tenderloin: you will need a piece of pork tenderloin as large or as small as you care to make. Combine 2 Tbls Kosher Salt, 3 Bay Leaves, 4 Garlic Cloves, a half bunch of Flat-leaf Parsley, 2 Tbls of Black Peppercorns, 1 Bunch of Sage, 3 Tbls Chopped Shallots, and a 1/2 teaspoon Prague Powder (pink salt)(not essential, but it draws out a lot of water). Pulverize in a spice grinder, or barring that, grind it up as best as possible in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle. Rub the mixture all over your tenderloin, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for two days.
Pre-heat the oven to 200º. Unwrap the tenderloin and fit it into a large enough pot or dutch oven to accommodate the meat and enough fat to cover it. On the stovetop, bring the tenderloin and fat to a simmer before placing it into the oven. Cook for about 3 hours.
When the loin is done, remove from the oven, and allow it to cool in the fat. Then refrigerate for at least 24 hours. This will keep for weeks, so if your not up to eating it right away it will be there waiting for you. To serve you can do one of two things. In either case, you pull it out of the fat, but in the one case you slice it up and fry the slices in a pan, and in the other you heat the whole thing, or a piece of the whole thing, up just enough to get the excess fat to melt away, then slice it up cold. It’s awesome either way.
To make the Cabbage you will need a whole red or green cabbage, an onion, a bay leaf, salt, pepper, sherry vinegar, and an apple. Take cabbage, cut it in half and core it. Then, slice it as thinly as possible. Do the same with the onion. Heat some sort of oil or fat in a large pot or dutch oven, and cook the onion for about 5 minutes or so. Add the cabbage, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste, the vinegar, and a half cup of water. If the cabbage doesn't fit all at once, add it batches by allowing it to cook down for a few minutes. Once it is all in the pot, cover it and turn the heat down, and allow to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Take the apple, peal and grate it, and once the cabbage has braised for the alloted time mix it into the cabbage, and allow to cook for an addition 5 minutes. That’s the cabbage.
For the Applesauce take as few or as many apples as you wish, so long as they aren’t mealy and flavorless, and quarter them, discarding the cores. Cut the quarters into half inch pices. Add a half inch worth of apple juice or cider to a pot on the stovetop and add the apples. Bring to a simmer, and cover, stirring occasionally, until cook until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. It can be as thick and chunky or as thin as you wish. That’s the applesauce.
To make the sandwich, all you have to do is combine these three things with a nice soft, crusty roll, and a sharp, tangy blue cheese to act as a counterpoint to the sweetness of the apples. I used a variety called Blue de Gex, but anything that has a real bite will do. I also add mayonnaise, but I think that’s an individual decision. It doesn’t really need it, but I thought it worked well to hold all the cabbage together, and thus give a more cohesive feeling to the sandwich. As I mentioned earlier, this can be prepared either hot or cold, depending on when you are eating it, and whether you are up to dirtying a bunch more dishes in order to make a sandwich. My girlfriend claims that this is the best of all the sandwiches I have featured here thus far. If you decide to try it, I hope that you agree!
One more thing. . . I’d like to give it a catchier name, but can’t seem to nail it. Any suggestions? The winner will receive my eternal gratitude!
Every time that I decide to do some sort of food project it inevitably ends up costing a small fortune. Finally, we have an exception to the rule with Mr. Bungles Berry Good Bourbon Strawberry Rhubarb Jam! Gabrielle and I both had Friday off, so we decided to go on a cheap date: Strawberry Pickin’. After doing a quick google search, I came up with this web address, www.pickyourown.org, and we drove out to the first place on the list for the Portland, OR area: Albeke Farms. The description says that they have all kinds of pick your own produce, with strawberry’s coming first in the season, and just our luck, they opened their farm a day before we called. I hadn’t been berry pickin’ since I was a very young boy, so I don’t remember much about that time, except we walked away with a boat load of strawberries and it was a dreary day. That wasn’t the case for us. It was mostly sunny and right in the 70’s. Perfect berry pickin’ weather!
It may have been that we loved pickin’ berries, or it may have been because they only cost a dollar a pound, but either way, we managed to pick 20lbs of strawberries. I suppose that’s peanuts if you consider the couple a few rows down from us had just finished rounding up an even hundred. We were going by bucket, and we decided to fill two buckets each. I figured that would be about enough to make some jam, and maybe have enough left over for a milkshake or two. So this is a word to the wise: be weary of the buckets one fills lest one be buried in berries!
Afterwards, we fished around for some canning jars, and the lady at Bed Bath and Beyond sent us over to Bi-Mart, where we found an abundance of canning jars at incredibly low prices. If that weren’t enough, everyone that worked there was incredibly nice and helpful, and just about every costumer we saw was jolly as a sonamabitch. It was like if Big Lots were Kubla Kahn’s stately pleasure dome, except with cheap chips instead of fly maidens playing the dulcimer. If you live in the Northwest, and you are planning on canning some things, I recommend going there. Seriously, though, they had the 9oz bags of Kettle Chips for 2 bucks.
I suppose a little back-story is in order. Before I became the Catastrophysicist, I was a Mr. Bungle. Now I am only a Mr. Bungle when I am in the kitchen (Mr. Bungle’s Bistro), or whenever Brie and I are in the same place at the same time. For those that don’t know what a Mr. Bungle is, you can educate yourself with this video:
Me and the star of this video share the same name, but we’re basically opposites. I do ALL of that Mr. Bungle shit!
As for the jam, I followed the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving to guide me through successfully. Making the jam wasn’t really difficult, it’s just kind of a long process that you have to stay focused on till the end. It involves mashing 8 cups of berries, adding pectin and lemon, bringing that to a boil before adding 7(!) cups of sugar, and then bringing that to a boil, and cooking it down to a certain consistency. I decided that it called for some bourbon all on my own. Meanwhile you have to prepare the jars for canning, which is kind of too involved to relate here. I recommend buying the book. It has very easy to follow step by step instructions, and over 400 recipes! I ended up with 10 8oz jars, and if you consider I used about 4 pounds of berries at $4.00 and paid $6.00 for 12 canning jars, that comes out to a dollar a jar! This was the first time I tried and it won’t be the last. Canning is not just for old ladies in the country anymore!
Update: WordPress has actually automatically generated an appropriate link below this post. The link for How to Make Jam – A Beginner Tutorial expertly outlines the process, albeit for a much smaller batch. Check it out!
One of the benefits of making your own bacon is that you end up with a boat load of bacon fat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: save your bacon fat! Otherwise, you might not ever be able to make pork belly confit, perhaps one of the most luxurious, if not down-right hedonistic things one could prepare from the all-mighty pig!
To confit something is to slowly cook it in fat, and so essentially what’s going on here is that you take a piece of pork belly, the same cut used to make bacon, cover it in it’s own fat, and cook it in the oven for about 3 hours, until it’s fork tender. My first encounter with pork confit was at a restaurant called Fork, located in the Old Town area of Philadelphia. I ordered it despite everyone else’s cackles and uhllll’s, and it turned out the pork belly upstaged the rest of the meal. It’s still the best I’ve ever eaten, and it’s set me on a dangerous course leading to coronary heart disease, because now I order pork belly if I see it on a menu irregardless of everything else.
This brings us to Bunk Sandwiches, a lunch spot staple for me in SE Portland. I had read in a magazine that this place features a Pork Belly Reuben on their menu, and therefore I was instantly drawn to the place. However, the menu changes daily, and this sandwich alluded me for many weeks. In that time, I decided the hell with it! I’ll make my own! And that’s what I have done here. I have since eaten one at Bunk, and I can attest that their’s is indeed very good, but so is mine! In fact, my girlfriend even told me that mine is better (haHa!) The amazing thing is how absolutely different they are.
While wondering aimlessly around the Portland Farmer’s Market a while back a certain loaf of bread caught my eye at the Pearl Bakery booth. It was called Vollkornbrot, a dense, hearty, German rye. Once I saw this bread, I knew I would make my reuben on it. In fact, it was actually the catalyst for the whole endeavor. It’s a great bread, and worked out wonderfully. The cheese I used was Tillamook Swiss. I had originally intended to make my own sauerkraut, but after realizing it would take at least five days, I decided to go with Picklopolis, a local pickler, instead. I had my heart set on sauerkraut made from purple cabbage, though, and they don’t make it in a purple variety, so I conspired to dye it purple with a bit of beet. However, while experimenting, I discovered another local sauerkraut purveyor, It’s Alive, produced just a few blocks from where I live, and was overjoyed that I had another choice. Both are excellent sauerkraut’s, and I recommend both of them, but It’s Alive won out for aesthetic reasons. What can I say? Finally, I used the Thousand Island recipe from Charcuterie for the dressing.
As for the Pork Belly Confit, here’s how I made it (you can make more than this at once, just double or triple everything):
Heat the oven to 200º.
Combine 2 tablespoon of the basic dry cure(1# Kosher Salt, 8oz Sugar, and 2oz Pink Salt), 1 bay leaf, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon of peppercorns, a few leaves of fresh sage, 1 shallot, and 2 tablespoons of cocoa, and crush them to a powder in a spice grinder, or a mini-food processor.
Take this mixture and rub it into a 1 to 2# piece of pork belly. Wrap it in plastic wrap, and put it in the refrigerator for a day or 2.
After this time has passed, place the the pork belly into an oven-proof pot, such as a dutch oven. Make sure that it’s a snug fit. Cut up the pork belly if necessary. The more room that is in the pot, the more fat that will be required in order to cover the pork belly. And yes, cover the pork belly completely with rendered fat.
Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, and then place it in the oven, uncovered, and cook for about three hours. When the pork belly is extremely tender, transfer to a separate dish, then strain the fat over the top of it, and place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, or up to a month. This stuff keeps well, but trust me, it won’t last a month. That’s it for the pork belly confit, from here on out, it’s just heat and serve.
To prepare this sandwich, I sliced the pork belly into quarter inch thick pieces, coated them in cocoa powder, and fried them up in a non-stick skillet. Meanwhile, I toasted two slices of the Vollkornbrot in butter, in a pan on the stovetop, melting a couple slices of the swiss on one slice. Once the pork belly had a crispy golden exterior, I drained it on a paper bag, before placing it on top of the swiss cheese. Then I added the sauerkraut, and smothered it with the Thousand Island dressing, before topping it off with the other slice.
Give yourself time to eat this sandwich. It is incredibly rich. If you eat it too quickly, I swear, you’ll go into a pork belly coma.
The Doug Fir Lounge here in Portland had to fill the bill after a certain cancellation for their scheduled show last night, and they did so with Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, a short notice gig that the band was ‘more than happy to do.’ Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of this project, and it’s not because they make bad music or anything; it’s just that it’s not Pavement. Many people feel the way I do, so my opinion here isn’t original. However, after last nights gig, I think I understand what makes Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks important, and not just to the fans.
With Pavement, this guy created perhaps 5 of the best indie rock records of all-time, and countless B-sides. But, as my girlfriend says with a shrug: even indie rockers get old. I know. It’s sad but true. Everyone in the band was born in the 60’s, and they all have a checkered past. Stephen is a family man now. He lives in Portland with his wife and two kids. All those things he sang about in Shady Lane have come to fruition, and who can blame him for it. I want a family and a nice home too, someday. Most people do, I think. It’s not unfair to say that creating groundbreaking music and raising children are mutually exclusive. Therefore we have Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, a retirement band, of sorts. It’s a way to tool around, and stay involved and some-what relevant, but there’s no pressure, and that’s what made the show last night so good. Of course I wanted to hear a Pavement song or two, and honestly, I didn’t know a single song they played, but it didn’t matter. It was cool just to see one of my guitar hero’s having a fun night out.
+the wedding band encore:
“Emotional Rescue” (Rolling Stones, 1980)
“All Day and All of the Night” (The Kinks, 1964)
“Shambala” (hit version by Three Dog Night, 1973)
“Love Train” (O’Jays, 1972)