Archive for the ‘D.I.Y.’ Category

Homemade chicken stock

2 January, 2008

Lots of stuff out there about making homemade chicken stock. Why are you here when you could be on “the Google?”

First rule of chicken stock: you have to save chicken bones (in a zip-loc bag in the freezer).
Second rule of chicken stock (with exception discussed below): do not let it boil or it will never clear.
Third rule of chicken stock is: You can make a small quantity and add it to your next batch along with water.

Exception: you can boil the bones for a few minutes, then discard the water with the scum and start over. Chicken stock will take at least 1 1/2 hours.

A basic “power of two” stock: A whole chicken, or enough bones + wings + giblets to make a good stock. Two halves of an onion, two carrots, two celery stalks, two handfuls of parsley, two bay leaves, two sprigs thyme (not for me), two spices (salt and pepper to taste), two quarts water (=water to cover), two hour simmer (if you use a whole chicken, you can pick the meat off the bones and reserve it for other purposes).

Additional power of two additions: two cloves garlic, two finger sized sprigs of fresh dill, two parsnips, two halves of a turnip.

Listified, think of it this way (in my own oder of preference, and half the time I don’t have all the ingredients):
Salt and pepper
Bay leaf

Simmer (emphasis on simmer) and skim any scum. Give yourself two hours minimum. It’s that easy. You can also throw in pork bones from your last bbq, or shrimp hulls, or turkey bones, or fish heads, or whatever. I strain my stock through a sieve lined with the cotton remnants of an old T-shirt. Cool to kitchen temperature, refridgerate, and skim off any fat that collects on the top the next day.

Again, it is that easy, and totally worth it.


Sausagepalooza 12-01-07

2 December, 2007

Sweet Cheeks and I made some in-freakin’-credible sausages: Classic bratwurst and pork shoulder and chicken-liver sausage. The former should be heated to about 150 degrees; the latter benefits from a couple more minutes on the heat, so the liver has a little more time to set and the sausage is less crumbly. Yes, we ground the meat in our hand-cranked grinder/stuffer and stuffed into real hog casings. Recipes are below, but do not include instructions, so if you are intrigued, drop me an email for instructions.

A few pictures will be inevitable, but are currently being processed.


Bratwurst, 12-01-07
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder butt, diced
2 pounds pork belly, diced
1.5 ounces kosher salt (3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
2 teaspoons ground dried ginger
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
2 large cold eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup ice-cold heavy cream.
Notes: next time, use 2 T salt. This sausage is incredible.

Additional Note: we revisited this sausage again. This time we ground an onion with the mix. Great!

Pork shoulder and chicken liver sausage, 12-01-07
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder butt, diced
1 pound chicken livers
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon whole cumin
1.5 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
3 cloves garlic.
Notes: Be sure to cook a little beyod 150 degrees F. A really great sausage with an intriguing rich taste and moist, but crumbly texture (unless cooked more). No unsuspecting person would ever believe liver is an ingredient. One more pound meat (with spice adjustment) would work well, too.

Additional note: some liver sausage recipes, like Reavis’ braunschweiger, which uses a 1:1 pork liver to pork butt ratio, suggest simmering cased sausages at 180–190 for one hour, then smoking at 150 for 2 hours. Sausages treated this way should last 2 weeks in the ‘fridge.

Bacon Project 002

19 August, 2007

Time for another bacon project–this time with a 1.5# piece of pork belly. The cure will remain the same as in the first homemade bacon (due to unused leftover cure from the first batch), but I will be curing the bacon for a shorter time (4 days) and cold smoking half of it.

Update 8-19: 4 day cure (instead of 6). Still very salty (i.e., “savoury”). Tastes very much like the first batch, perhaps slightly less salty. Future dry-cures designed for breakfast slices will have higher sugar ratio and / or addition of molasses, honey or maple syrup. I have also heard of bacon that is single-cured and stored in a zip-lock bag (instead of being rubbed with cure every morning, the bag is simply flipped). The leaching of the liquid may perhaps require a longer cure time (7 days), but the convenience might be worth the wait.

Further update: Given the fact that it is too hot in VA to cold smoke at the moment, I decided to “hot smoke” a portion of this bacon–actually I just used the oven (200 degrees F) until the internal temp. reached 150. Removed skin; cooled to room temp; sampled a piece; blanched for 1 minute to reduce salt content; dried after blanching; refridgerated (will keep 1-3 weeks no problem. Could be cut into slices, lardons, etc., and frozen for up to 3 months.


House-of-Yes coffee roasting sans TimmyB.

4 August, 2007

I was shocked and pleased to find a first-generation, 1500 watt West Bend “Poppery” hot air popcorn maker at the local SPCA thrift store. It cost me three dollars in quarters, and if I had to frequent a laundromat, I’d need to go another week in dirty clothes. These increasingly rare (and expensive) poppers make great home coffee roasters!

TimmyB has left the protective auspices of the House, and he has taken in tow his combination West Bend “Stir Crazy” + “Galloping Gourmet” Perfection-Aire convection oven coffee roaster. The morning after the day he left was a sad time for those of us who can’t think without the morning cup of “joe.” Fortunately, that is not me, but Country Coburn and Ho-tep were looking rough, confused, and downright surly.

Glory be! Those mornings are now over. I will be modifying this popper to roast small batches of coffee–up to four ounces. That’s more than I drink in a month these days. The other House-of-Yes denizens will have to build a roaster with a larger capacity, or roast more frequently. Before we can do any roasting, however, I will need to fabricate a rheostat, get a thermometer, & do a few other things. More later. Click on the thumbnail for the photoset (which is quite small, at the moment, but growing).


Does this look like a coffee roaster to you?


House stove range hood repaired.

14 July, 2007

Not that anyone cares, but… (click the thumbnail for the photo gallery).


I have cleaned and repaired the nefarious range hood at the House. Grease was dripping from the squirrel cage fan blades down on to the two rear burners, rendering them unusable (for cooking, setting food, or pot storage. I don’t want to go into details, but the unit was NASTY!

What worked best for cleaning? Believe it or not, I boiled a large pot of water, added a bunch of Borax, and boiled the parts (making sure during reassembly that there were no rubber or metal bushings, etc.. Then I used Dawn, hot water and a sponge to further clean the parts.

The fan’s dimmer switch had also broken long ago, so I dug around in the basement and found a toggle switch. Voila! A job easily done.