March 26, 2003

Dishmaster 2000

When I moved into my house, I found an interesting thing in the Kitchen. Called a "Dishmaster" it's a wacky kitchen faucet that also includes a combination spray wand/scrubber. Even wackier, a button you push to have soap come out of the spray. Wonderful 1950s throwback look as well.

I figured I'd live with it until I was no longer house-poor and could afford to replace it. But it sure didn't take very long to start to appriciate it! It makes kitchen cleanup much faster, and generally you can keep your hands out of the water most of the time. Pretty soon, I wasn't sure how I'd live without it.

I was also sure they were no longer made, and that once it broke I'd end up with something a bit more, well, from this century. A few years back the soap dispenser part broke, and recently the washers on the faucets have started a slow spiral down into constant leakage. It was time to replace it.

Some basic searches on the web turned up that the Dishmaster is highly loved by those who live in the midwest, and specifically those from its home state of Michigan. It also quickly showed that Dishmaster, the company, is alive and well and still turning out the "Imperial Four" that I had grown so attached to.

They even have a new design that while not the height of fashion, sticks out a bit less than my old model. Those who are looking for a 1954 facelift will be glad to know they still make all of their older models as well. And so I am now the proud owner of a Dishmaster 2000! Check out the Dishmaster web site. You just have to love the name, especially since it is printed on the front of the faucet itself.

Well, okay, so I'm not proud (yet). I've installed the main faucet-head, but need to pick up new flexible hose lines before I'm all done. Installation so far has gone pretty smoothly -- I just didn't realize I'd want to replace the supply lines, and here in California, there aren't too many home supply places open at 9 PM. I figure I've got maybe 20 minutes of work left to be cleaning away.

Now, if only I'd get back to cooking so there would be more dirty dishes!

Posted by dowdy at 07:00 AM

March 24, 2003

Smoked Meatloaf

It was a nice day out Sunday, so while waiting for the Oscars to go on, and trying not to watch too much CNN, and observing the pool cleaner circling around, I decided to make my smoked or BBQed meatloaf.

This is a recipe that I normally use for weeknights, and make a great change from normal meatloaf. It also adds flavor to what is normally a rather sad selection of commercial meats available at a normal supermarket. And except for the cooking time -- it goes together very fast, allowing you time to clean, make sides, set the table, and monitor that pool cleaner.

- 1/2 to 2/3 beef chuck (4 lbs this time)
- 1/3 to 1/2 other meats, I used a pound of pork and a pound of lamb
- 1 C cooked rice, breadcrumbs or other binder
- 1 egg
- salt, pepper and whatever meatloaf seasonings you like

I almost alway use chuck because it has the right amount of fat in it. I've used veal, pork, lamb, dark meat chicken, turkey, and pork sausage at the other meats. For all but the sausage, I usually grind the meat myself unless I'm in a real hurry. This time, I had some leftover basmati rice, so I thought briefly about going with an Indian style flavor, but instead just used some mixed Italian seasonings that I got for free with my last Penzey's order.

After grinding, mix well to ensure combined. Form into a loaf and place in a disposable pan. I use half sheet pans, but have used pie plates for smaller sided loafs. I don't recommend using non-disposable pans as the smoke will certainly color them.

Build a medium fire on one side of your grill (I have a 22 inch Weber kettle). Once the coals have reduced, add a chunk or two of wood. Place the meatloaf in the pan on the other side of the grill. Cover. Let smoke without peeking for around half an hour, after this check the coals (adding another chunk of wood as needed) and turn the meatloaf to ensure even cooking.

I cook the meatloaf to around 160, which will carry over to 170 when removed from the grill. This is much more well done than I normally like meat, but the combination of pork and non-high quality meats make me want to do a fuller cook. This takes between 1.5 hours and two depending upon the size of the meatloaf, how hot you are running the fire, and how well cooked you decide you want to make yours.

Let rest for around 15 minutes and then slice. You should see a nice red smoke-ring on the outside.

Posted by dowdy at 08:32 AM

March 21, 2003

Fake Steak

Carol came over on Friday night, so I made two things from my childhood -- Fake Steak, and Long John Silvers Corn.

Fake Steak is what my father called either a chuck steak or London Broil that is doctored and grilled. I used a 3 lb London Broil for this one. But a 7-bone chuck steak can also be pretty good.

Combine lemon juice, steak sauce, BBQ sauce, spices, herbs, pepper, salt, meat tenderizer, and a bit of oil. I like to make sure it ends up pretty sweet and sour. Marinate the steak for at least half an hour. Grill over high heat for 5 minutes per side, then move off the direct heat, coat with additional marinate. Cover the grill and cook for another 5 minutes per side. Let rest, and slice very thin.

Long John Silvers Corn is not called that because Pirates Love Corn ("Arr, matey, pass the butter!") -- although I tried to convince Carol of that. It's called that because it's how corn is served at Long John Silvers Seafood Shoppes.

Basically, it's just corn boiled in a fairly small amount of water, a whole stick of butter, salt, pepper, and just a bit of sugar. I think at LJS, they let it boil for the better part of a day. I usually do it for 15 minutes or so -- which is much longer than I cook good corn in season. But I'm pretty sure that March doesn't count as "in season" even here in California.

Oh yeah, and you have to cut the corn in half to form "Cobbettes" -- otherwise it just isn't Pirate Corn. "Aye, matey, pass another Cobbette down this-a-ways."

Posted by dowdy at 08:16 PM

March 14, 2003

Everything on a Bun

Work has been completely kicking my butt recently. So the cooking front has been, well, face it. Pathetic. My only other excuse is this 24 pack of discount hamburger buns that I got at Smart & Final last weekend.

So this week it's been everything you could possibly imagine on a bun. Hamburger. Chicken. Turkey. Sausages. Homemade Mayo. Mustard. Cheese sauce. Egg Salad. BBQed Brisket. They've all turned out really nice and were quick to prepare. But I just can't handle even trying to write them up -- and the horror of someone needing to read it.

This weekend I'm thinking I may make a Cassoulet. I'm in need of some long slow cooked comfort food, that's for sure. I've also got some more sausages that need using up, along with some lamb. Oh, and did I mention the 10 pounds of beans that I broke down and bought at the Smart & Final?

Posted by dowdy at 09:17 AM

March 07, 2003


Scouring the kitchen turned up a few items that needed using, and I was waiting on the little man to replace my hot water heater, so a one pot meal it was to be:

- 2 homemade smoked sausage links, diced
- 2 shallots, minced fine
- 1 stalk celery, minced fine
- should have had some bell pepper, but I didn't
- 1 C white rice, uncooked
- 1 1/2 C tomato puree
- 1 C beef stock
- 1/2 C white wine
- 1 tsp wochestershire sauce
- a few shots of hot sauce
- 1 tsp thyme
- salt and pepper
- 8 medium shrimp, cut into pieces and coated in cajun spice mix

I sauteed the sausage in butter, then removed it from the pan and sauteed the veg in the remaining fat. Returned the sausage to the pan and added the rice. Once fully coated in the fat, I added all of the liquid/spice ingredients and brought it to a boil. Reduced the heat to low and covered. I let it cook about 20 minutes -- the rice wasn't quite done -- then let it go another 5. Added in the shrimp, stirred, turned off the heat, recovered the pot, and let the shrimp cook in the residual heat.

I'd forgotten how nice the spice/tomato flavor works here. The tossing of the shrimp in the spice was also a good idea -- it made them taste different than the rest of the dish and stand out.

This was easily enough food for two, so I'm thinking of using the leftovers in some kind of clever stuffing. Maybe chicken so that I can have pork, shrimp, and fowl all in one handy dish.

Posted by dowdy at 09:02 AM

March 03, 2003

Safeway for Chefs

I'd never been to a "Smart & Final" before (they also go by the name "Cash & Carry" in some locals), but recently found out that there was one located near to me. It's sort of a strange cross between a warehouse store, a grocery, and a restarant supply place. They bill themselves as more of the later, and I did in fact see several chefs from local chains picking up random stuff they needed.

I went there specifically for packer cut brisket, which is hard to come by around here, but they had for $1.30/lb. They also had full pork butts, cryovacs ribs, and lots of other BBQ things (guess what I did on Sunday!).

Other interesting things I saw:
- lots of variety of pots and pans and so on at reasonable prices. Also, lots of LARGE sizes you wouldn't find in anything shy of a true restarant supply place.
- an "endcap" consisting of 25 bags of sugar and 1/2 gallon containers of red and yellow food coloring
- #10 can's of just about everything you can imagine

Not a place to pick up fresh, local, ingredients. But a great source of large quantities, industrial supplies, stuff for parties, and fairly low prices (from what I could tell).

Posted by dowdy at 09:55 AM

March 01, 2003

Fear of Frying

It was that kind of week, so last night I made Buffalo Chicken Wings. Not exactly at the cutting edge of the culinary world, but there you go.

- 2 dozen defrosted chicken wings, cut into 1st and 2nd sections
Fry in deep fat until very crispy and browned -- about 10-15 minutes. While that's going on, make the sauce.

- 2 T vinegar
- 1/2 small bottle of Frank's Hot Sauce
Bring to boil in pot. Then reduce to low and add
- 1/2 stick butter
Swirl/whisk to combine, remove from heat.

Place wings in a stainless steel bowl, pour on sauce, toss to coat.

The above is the "more authentic" and also my "lazy mode" version of wings. Like I said, it was that kind of week. When I'm feeling less lazy, I usually:
- brine the wings first in a spiced brine
- coat them in a seasoned flour
- add a very small amount of BBQ sauce to the sauce, and typically make it a bit more complex with the addition of more of a variety of hot sauces.

People are scared of deep fat frying, and I'll be the first to admit that there are plenty of things about it worth being scared of. A few tips:
- Use a large pot, never fill more than half full of oil
- Have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen -- you should have one anyway!
- A combination of a brass "spider" strainer plus a coarse strainer are a great way to get things out of the oil. Dip from the oil with the first into the later, holding the whole works above to make for easy draining.
- I have 3 large (1.5 gallon) bottles of salad oil. The first is new oil. The second holds strained oil that's only been used a few times (and is labeled "FRY" on the cap). The third is used oil that I need to toss (and is labeled "DUMP"). When the third is full, I cap it with the new cap, and shift all of the oils down (DUMP get dumped, FRY becomes DUMP, what's left of the fresh bottle becomes "FRY" and the new full bottle is, well, new)
- I have a deep fat thermometer, but after a bit you get pretty good at telling oil temperature by eye. I only use it when I'm preparing a more fancy recipe that calls for exact temperatures. Frying things at the proper temperature and draining well drastically reduces the amount of oil in the final product.

I really don't fry things all that often, but it's a good cooking skill to have. You can mix up the tastes and textures of dishes by having fried components as part of them.

Posted by dowdy at 08:50 AM