November 04, 2006

Suzanne's Basement

Went with the guys to help SuzanneB with her basement. We were just doing drywall, but it's amazing how much easier it is with a lot of people to help lift the heavy drywall. We also had some cool tools that helped as well. Rick was the most experienced of us, so he did most of the measuring and cutting. It was sorta fun, but now my legs are sore from standing all day.

Posted by JAY at 06:29 PM | Comments (0)

Recipe: Roasted Garlic Cloves

These are an awesome addition to any roasted meal. (Recipe for Quick Cook: Everything Roasted) You can add these to any high heat roasted dish. This "Everything Roasted" meal was chicken, hot sausages, sweet sausages, onions, broccolli and carrots.

All you do is cut the stem end off of the unpeeled cloves of garlic. Toss with olive oil and salt and add to the roasting pan. (If there's oil and salt in the recipe, just toss them with the rest of the stuff.) The cloves will turn golden mushy brown inside their papery skins. While you're eating, just squeeze them out with your fork onto your plate. Or just squeeze them with your fingers into your mouth. The roasted garlic flavor will be buttery, mild and sweet! A rustic tasty touch.

Posted by JAY at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2006

Recipe: Simplifried Wings


This is the simplest frying method ever. Vary the spices for a more asian feel if you want (use 5 spice powder and dried ginger in the mix). Dredge chicken wings (about 12) in the following mixture and fry them in enough oil to cover them (do it in 2 batches if you want).

3 TBS corn starch
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1 tsp black pepper

Salt them again as they come out of the hot oil.

Posted by JAY at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)

Seasoning Cast Iron

Cast iron is one of the best surfaces to sear things on. I was doing without cast iron, but then I stole a pan from my parents and made the best steak ever. Then Superstore had cast iron pans on sale for just $7. However, cast iron needs seasoning before it can be used, to seal the surface with a tough, stick resistant coating. The longer you use the pan, the more seasoned it gets. Eventually it takes on a smooth black patina.

So here you can see the 3 stages. The ancient pan in the back is a perfectly age seasoned cast iron 10" pan that my parents got in a garage sale a long time ago. At the bottom right is a new, unseasoned pan that has a rough grey surface. To the right is the pan that I've seasoned in the oven. It's not as good as the old pan, but it suffices. For seasoning instructions, read below.


Seasoning instructions:

1) Wash down the pan with hot water, soap and a stiff brush. Then bake the pan in a 400 degree F oven for at least 1/2 an hour to make sure all moisture has been eliminated. This step is to remove any manufacturing chemicals that may still be on the pan.

2) Wipe a very thin layer of vegetable oil over the entire interior surface of the pan.
Bake the pan in a 400 degree F oven for at least an hour. The oil will darken and turn deep brown.

3) Repeat step 2 over and over... the more you do it, the better the seasoning. You can also season the exterior of the pan to inhibit rust.

Maintenance: Don't wash the pan with soap. Just use hot water and a scrubbing brush if there's stuff stuck to it. Heat it over the stove to evaporate any moisture and rub with a thin layer of oil to prevent rust.

Posted by JAY at 08:30 PM | Comments (1)

November 10, 2006

Good Luck

I've been having a freakishly good week, due to circumstances mostly out of my control. The Dems took both House and Senate down in the States... so yay! As a Canadian, it doesn't really affect me but it's slightly encouraging nonetheless.

Retail has been kind to me - got some curtains from IKEA for about 70% off retail... $10/pair. I was only able to get it because a last minute assignment in Markham took me close to the store on Wednesday. I got a huge chunk of parmagianno reggiano for like $10... it must've been an error, but I didn't notice until later. I also got a large amount of really discounted meat... though I've run out of freezer space, so that's a bit of a problem too.

I also got the awesomest email ever written, though I'm not really at liberty to discuss it here.

With everything going this way, I even bought my first EVER lottery ticket... we'll see if the luck holds till the draw next week! :-)

And then... there was the poker game. See next post up...

Posted by JAY at 11:54 PM | Comments (2)

Dumb Luck

So I just got back from my first real (ie. gambling for money instead of say, candy) poker game. I was invited to play with Aaron, Anthony, Rick, Rob, Steve and Sean. We met at Steve's house (really nice place!) and he cooked dinner for us. I brought some snacks and Rick made some pizza. All yummy.

The poker was a bit rocky at first, but I wasn't the only one whose skills were rusty. I didn't know a lot of the house rules and variants.

However, my luck from this week carried on and I came out waaay ahead, which was kind of embarassing. It was mostly pure luck, too... while I'm pretty good at probabilities (and horrible at arithmetic) my hands were way impossible - statistically too many full houses, 4 of a kind and triples. Once I was even dealt a straight, flat out!

I felt a bit guilty, being the new guy and all. I don't think anyone lost a TON of money. I came prepared to lose about a hundred bucks, but by the end of the night I was up well over $100. Yikes! Heh, we'll see if I get invited back to any poker games. I'll have to put the money away somewhere for them to win back. Beginners' luck, I guess!

Posted by JAY at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2006

Lunch with Jen & Dan (Recipe: Top Sirloin with Pan Sauce)


Jen, Dan and little Naomi came over for lunch today. It tasted really good - I roasted potatoes, onions, garlic and spicy sausage in olive oil. Dan (cuz he's a picky meat eater!) had a very 'sanitized' cube of grilled chicken breast. Jen and I shared a large-ish steak. I liked the pan gravy, so I'm just going to jot down some notes on the recipe below.

The steak was also good, and it was a reasonably inexpensive cut - top sirloin. The thing with top sirloin is that it can be a bit chewy if it's not cooked to at least medium-rare. I prefer rare, but with this steak medium-rare to medium is where you want to be. (The pic of the steak came later, with another meal.)

Naomi had strawberries for the first time and seemed to really, really like them. She kept demanding more! She also found the beanbag chair and upholstered ottoman interesting. She also tried the piano. They also brought me some foaming hand soap that's really neat - I've been washing my hands more than strictly necessary to play with the pump.

Recipe follows..

Sirloin Steak with Pan Gravy

1 top sirloin steak, 1 1/4 inches thick, at room temperature
1 TBS butter
1 TBS mustard
1 shallot (can substitute 1/2 onion and a clove of garlic)
2 TBS wine (white or red, dry)
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt, pepper

Heat oil in a pan until it's smoking hot.
Season the steak liberally with salt and pepper.
Fry the steak on high for about 3-4 minutes, depending on thickness.
Don't move the steak around or lift it until you're ready to flip.
Flip the steak with tongs.
Lower the heat to medium.
Cook until the inside of the steak reads about 125-135 degrees F.

Put the steak on a warm plate, cover with aluminium foil.

Add the butter and the shallots to the pan (if using onion and garlic, don't add the garlic until just before the wine)
Saute the shallots and scrape up the brown bits in the pan.
Add the mustard.
Add the wine and scape up the brown bits with the liquid.
Add 1/2 the chicken broth and any juices that leaked out of the steak into the plate.
Reduce to evaporate water until the sauce is syrupy. Add chicken stock as needed.
Add cream.
Adjust salt and pepper.

Pour over the sliced steak.

Posted by JAY at 04:22 PM | Comments (2)

November 25, 2006

Uh-oh...

It's all Dom's fault. He brought this great deal on a deep fryer to my attention today. It was 1/2 price - just $85! It all comes apart for easy washing (the electronics and element can be separated, as can the basin. Even the exterior can be tossed in the dishwasher.) The oil is filtered and drains into a plastic sealed storage container underneath. So really cool.

I haven't tried it yet, but I'm looking forward to it!

Posted by JAY at 01:36 AM | Comments (2)

Paging some guy.

"Hey man, it's Kristin calling. I'm just home for a few days. i wanted to check in to see how you were going (sic). I hope all is going well and I hope to see you when I come home at Christmas. Bye, love you."

Odd message on my answering machine.... ?

Posted by JAY at 01:48 AM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2006

Delicious Chicken Wings

Went to Trev and Rucell's house (yesterday? can't remember...) and we had her super-secret fried chicken wings. They were really really delicious and I ate a lot more than I should've! My contribution was some lasagna. They also gave me a bag of apples that they had picked at a local (?) farm. We watched TV and I tried Beryl on Trev's new laptop. It's a funky 3D accelerated GUI for linux. Not sure that it's quite worth the system resources, but it's fun to play with.

Posted by JAY at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)