Bits And Pieces Of Whatnots - Life ... It's Why We Cook. Blog at - 294474

Life ... It's Why We Cook.

Bits and Pieces of Whatnots 
Jan. 15, 2013 4:30 pm 
Updated: Jan. 23, 2013 2:43 pm
I have the pleasure of having a new attachment for our Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. It is a pasta extruder for making macaroni (large and small), thin round spaghetti, fusilli (thin spiral shaped), rigatoni (like macaroni with grooves), and bucatini (long hollow spaghetti). I already had the pasta maker that cuts flat thin spaghetti and used it quite a bit. When our son and daughter in law heard me talking about this extruder, they took it upon themselves to make sure I had one. It arrived Christmas morning. So far, I have made only the fusilli but the large macaroni will be on our plates soon. Along with the extruder came a drying rack for the pasta cutter. It holds a whole recipe of pasta so no more used up counter tops or table tops! Works for me.

Another newbie in my cooking armory is a countertop pressure cooker. I've used it twice since receiving it on Christmas. The first was a recipe for roast beef. That didn't come out right. I believe it was overcooked. I'll try it again and cut back the time to 3/4 of the time stated in the recipe.

The second pressure cooker recipe was one that has been a nemesis for me since the beginning of forever- whole chicken. I have seldom been successful cooking it. Mrs. Mike would shudder whenever I said that roast whole chicken was for dinner. (Maybe that is why she got the pressure cooker for me?) This time, it was perfect in the pressure cooker. I cooked it plain to find any shortcoming with the pressure cooker. The bird was nearly perfect! I will cut back on the time a smidge, though. I don't like a bird falling apart when my plan is to present a whole bird.
I have visions of making my broths in it from now on, too. It will surely cut simmer/steeping time way down.

I've been trying out the AR Menu Planner and I'm becoming quite the convert. It has been real nice when making a grocery list and especially nice on those days when my head is in a fog and thinking of planning a meal is very difficult. Impulse menus and blind shopping are history! So far, I've completed the five weeks of January.

Another huge plus is being able to use the food that is in the freezer. Mrs. Mike and I sorted the freezer ten days ago. Rather than put everything back and hope that the organization would last a couple of weeks, we bought bins to put the food in and numbered them. The bins left 5 1/2 inches to the freezer wall and we use cloth shopping bags to hold our goods in that space. Then we listed the contents of each bin. We had three rows across and three bins high. As we use an item, it gets erased from the list on the dry erase board. As we add items, they are included on the list. Moving the bins to get to an item is much easier than trying to unstack a freezer location to find something. We would have to become very careless to mess up this system.

We did have problems finding workable bins, though. We measured length and width and depth to the bottom of the baskets. The sizes we decided on were one large for the bottom bin of three rows and two smaller bins on top of the bottom bin in each row. As I mentioned, the space between the basket and the freezer wall is easily filled by cloth shopping bags. Since we began this new storage method in the freezer, we haven't had any problem finding anything. We found the workable sizes at Wal Mart. You just can't run to WalMart and buy bins. You need to carefully measure your freezer inside, write the measurements on a card and in the store figure what sizes work best and in what combination, if needed.

I had to do what I didn't want to do, and that is, I backed out of mauigirl's Maui Roundup. We thought about it ever since mauigirl announced it. We have set our priority on our kitchen remodel and we don't want to take the chance that we would not have any funds for unexpected whatevers. (I learned to tie my malo and had my grass skirt fireproofed, too! DANG!!! Maybe the MidwestRoundup will be a Hawaiian theme. Like a Luau?)
Jan. 15, 2013 5:11 pm
Hi Mike! I want to make pasta; it's on my list for this year, along with dumplings. I don't have the attachments for my KA, but maybe I should get them before I attempt any pastas? I need to get in my freezer and organize. The problem with my freezer, though, is there are some ducks in there - ducks for puppy training and ducks waiting to be taken to the taxidermist. I like the bin idea. I might steal it.
Jan. 15, 2013 5:33 pm
Aaahhh!! Mike, you're making green with envy!! I've been reviewing the heck out of pasta attachments for my KA. Keep us updated on different settings on that extruder. But pressure cooker whistles of old have always scared the heck outta me since I was a kid. Even now I shudder at the thought, but Alton Brown has a great chili recipe that has me thinking I'd like to test one out. And your freezer project...well, impressive, something to aspire to. Sorry for the long comment, but this post had me from beginning to end. Happy New Year!
Jan. 15, 2013 5:40 pm
I think I have all of the attachments, Mother Ann! At least, I didn't see any on Amazon that I don't have. I used the ice cream maker to make frozen treats so that I can enjoy ice cream, icees, sorbets etc because of my sugar problem. Both pasta makers get used frequently as well as the meat grinder. Everything is still in the learning stages, though.
Jan. 15, 2013 5:50 pm
1st Lady!!! Nice to have you back! I thought of a little thing to tag you with but you disappeared. So, I'll tag you now. "1st Lady (our 1 L of a) Lady!" Oh well. It seemed better when it was still in my head. You're tagged anyway. ... There are no settings on the pasta extruder except for the auger that pushes the dough through the extruder. You can increase speed but anything above 3 makes a ragged pasta. ... I can remember a couple of problems my mother had with the old rocker/whistle pressure cooker and I refuse to have one as a result. Although, I will be needing to get some courage up for canning season when I wille using one. ... Don't worry about long comments. I don't.
Jan. 15, 2013 6:23 pm
Mike, you’ve got way to much time on your hands. Maybe an efficiency expert can convert the dry erase board into an Excel spreadsheet so you can have a sheet dedicated to what’s in the freezer, another one for the fridge, one for the pantry . . . just kidding with you Mike as I’m organized to a fault. Hope your kitchen project is on track, and look forward to updates.
Jan. 15, 2013 6:36 pm
My first freezer inventory was a spreadsheet, Conky Joe. I was real pretty until three or four changes became input errors.Opps! I mean the computer messed up! ...the plans for the kitchen are being finalized and we should have them and a tentative bid by March 1. Demo and reconstruction will begin in mid September.
Jan. 15, 2013 6:53 pm
Good on you, Mike, for taking the plunge and using the MP. You might remember my past blogs on the subject. I've since moved on to a more robust planner for my Mac that syncs everything between the Mac, iPad and iPhone. Even got Steve to add the app to his iPhone so I no longer have to drop everything when he yells "Add bananas to your list!" Now it's HIS list, too. But I still add notes to myself to remind me to use the leftover chicken in the freezer, etc... All the things I used to make planning easier. I love your freezer storage system, too. Genius! I'm jealous about your kitchen remodel, too. Good for you, dude! I'm sure it'll be all you're dreaming it will be. :)
Jan. 15, 2013 7:02 pm
If sacrifice builds a good kitchen then this should be a great kitchen, lucylove. ... I am sharing my menus, too. Maybe a visitor or two would suggest something. ... It sure is good to have you back! Hope all is good!
Jan. 15, 2013 7:06 pm
Sure wish I had the money for a pasta maker to fit on my KA. One of these days. I wouldn't even have to pay shipping just go to the KA store in Greenville and buy it but don't have the extra $$ right now. Enjoy it...
Jan. 15, 2013 7:31 pm
wezi2, maybe you should drop some strong hints to your family that a pasta maker would get them some very tasty pasta, not like the boxed stuff from the supermarket. It wasn't my intention to get my son and daughter in law to buy it for me but it did turn out for me!
Jan. 15, 2013 9:21 pm
Mike, as a kitchen designer, all I can say is work with one if you can find one you like. Heck, send me a drawing, we'll do a conference call and I could even help you. Its so good when you can find someone that spends a little time learning you, so that they can design a kitchen with you in mind. Best of luck old friend. As far as those kitchen aid attatchments go, I'm glad to hear that that one works well. My wife got me the 3 attatchment kit last year and its kind of a peice of junk. Not one of the 3 work well. Oh well.
Jan. 16, 2013 3:12 am
Mike, I didn't even know there was an ice cream attachment! Does it work well? I do have the meat grinder and I do use it occasionally; it works well enough for me. I'm going to be spending some time on Amazon looking at attachments very soon!
Jan. 16, 2013 4:23 am
You are very correct, Randy, and thank you for that offer. We are working with a kitchen designer through our son who is, in his own right, a kitchen designer himself although that is not his chosen area. The designer passes the plans through him before it gets to us. ... I haven't had any problems with any of the KA attachments. I wonder which attachments you are having problems with?
Jan. 16, 2013 4:29 am
The ice crean maker works very well, Mother Ann! It is intended for small batches (maybe a pint?) and I can get only two batches a day (three if I don't lose my patience)but that is fine with me! The only problem it poses is it needs room in the freezer for 4-6 hours.
Jan. 16, 2013 5:03 am
Good morning Mike. We will miss you in Maui but I do understand that the kitchen must come first. I am still in search of the right under cabinet lighting. As for the pressure cooker, I have been scoping those out. I would like to use it as a canner too but am more than a little nervous about them. I do use my old pressure cooker for stock. My goodness it does a good job but again that one is very old and using it scares me. I like the freezer bin plan. I was just digging in my chest freezer and thought that bins or crates would be a great addition. I need to dust off my pasta attachments. Thanks for the inspiration.
Jan. 16, 2013 5:54 am
Good morning, Baking Nana! You must have some very specific lighting needs. I am sorta good at figuring lighting so, if you want to, send me an email about what you want and I'll see what I can come up with. ... The pressure cooker I was just given would not process more than two pints. I haven't looked for larger ones but we use that scary stovetop kind for canning. ... I'm surprised you haven't been using your pasta attachments. My imagination pictured you making pasta twice a day. ... The stackable bins have been working great! The secret, I'm sure, is that inventory list that correlates with the numbered bins so we know where to look.
Jan. 16, 2013 6:08 am
I have the pasta attachments and yes they do work well. Nothing better than homemade pasta. The meat grinder gets the most workout. My pressure cooker is a stove top model with double safety valves and often use it. The only draw back to the P/C is that it's a pain in the a.. to clean, big and heavy. I try to use the MP but more often shoot from the hip and I do like impulse shopping. DW (I call her the white tornado when it comes to cleaning and keeping things in order)keeps the freezer in neat order. Having met 1st Lady in person she is definitely 1 "L" of a Lady.
Jan. 16, 2013 6:29 am
Good morning, bd! I think my next KA purchase will be the juicer that works with the meat grinder. I don't understand how it can do a good job, though. For no more money that it is I think I'll try it. ... My pressure cooker is quite easy to clean. It has an insert to hold the food that just lifts out and the heating area doesn't touch the food. It is easy to clean, also. ... The menu planner has saved us some money already, because we are buying only what we need to buy and have the menu as a reminder of what the food was bought for. When we cleaned the freezer, we found a lot of food that had been forgotten and some we wondered why the H we bought. I don't expect that to happen again if we discipline ourselves to stay with the menu. ... Before 1st lady disappeared, I had had that impression, bd. Her blogs kinda gave her up. ;)
Jan. 16, 2013 7:12 am
Mike, I had to step back from the bread and pasta making for a while. Too tempting to eat too many. I just started baking bread again after taking a break. As for the lighting - I went to Home Depot and Lowes and the truth is, I guess I just don't know what I am looking at. LOL. An electrician I am NOT.
Jan. 16, 2013 9:17 am
May I suggest that you get away from Home Depot or Lowes or any home improvement store and visit a lighting specialty shop? They are more expensive but most have designers that are experts and may visit your home for a first hand accounting of your needs. And bear this in mind; a skylight or light tunnel will be a benefit in the evening for eight months of the year and a huge plus during all daylight hours.
Jan. 16, 2013 9:34 am
Hi Mike - I need to get a pressure cooker. I see them using them all the time on TV but have never taken that next step. It sounds like I really should. Good luck on the kitchen - I lived for a whole summer grilling by headlamo and blowing sawdust off my food.
Jan. 16, 2013 10:03 am
Good afternoon,Mike! I wish my kitchen could be remodeled. I love the freezer idea. It sure beats my system of multiply Walmart sacks that I have written on. Well, a Hawaiian theme, hmm we will have to see what we can come up with.
Jan. 16, 2013 10:21 am
Mike-I was wondering what kind of pressure cooker you bought? I got a new small deep fryer from Oster. I know what you mean when you follow instructions from appliances. The chicken thighs were so crispy at the recommended time and not in a good way. The chicken reminded me of Chevy Chase in his Christmas Vacation where he tried to cut the burnt up turkey.
Jan. 16, 2013 10:45 am
Hi, Doug! I'm sure you would get along with a pressure cooker quite famously! Expanding the possibilities of your chopped challenges would be a hurdle your challengers would have to deal with, grudgingly, I bet!
Jan. 16, 2013 10:51 am
Good afternoon, Cat! We actually discussed the shopping bags idea but dismissed it when we thought of bins. We do use the shopping bags for the open space between the freezer wall and the bins where they are perfect! ... Hawaiian in Missouri, why not! Out at the pond, big bon fire, Poached Pig in a Pit, traditional dress of the 1500's ...
Jan. 16, 2013 11:07 am
Hi, Lela! I have the Wolfgang Puck brand that is featured on HSN from time to time. It is not listed on their site right now. It is the one with a manual timer, not the electronic one.
Jan. 16, 2013 11:51 am
Hi, Mike,very good blog.I do the same as you,i have a list for the freezer,and also the cupboards in the basement where we store the extra canned goods,olive oil,stuff like that.I hope you enjoy your pasta maker,my parents made their own pasta also,only back then no pasta maker,all done by hand.Much easier now.
Jan. 16, 2013 1:12 pm
Hey Doug!
Jan. 16, 2013 1:13 pm
The All American Canners look to be about 1/2 price on Amazon.
Jan. 16, 2013 1:45 pm
Hee hee Mike, I'm tickled by your tag!! That one will keep me smiling!!!
Jan. 16, 2013 1:58 pm
Mike, it seems you and I are on the same page of cleaning out the freezer. My freezer outside and the one in my frig are full! I'm determined to make out menus using these foods before I go to the store to buy more. I may drop the hint to my family next year that I would like to have the KA meat grinder attachment. May I ask what you use yours for besides making your own ground beef?
Jan. 16, 2013 2:30 pm
Hi, manella! The sysyem is working nicely but we don't have a system for our remote cupboaqrds. We seem to know where everything is, so far. ... I have made pasta by hand and I always managed to over-work it. Using the mechanical pasta makers is a very welcome blessing.
Jan. 16, 2013 2:30 pm
Thanks for that, Doc!
Jan. 16, 2013 2:32 pm
I was hoping for a long time that you would return so I could get it on you, 1st Lady!
Jan. 16, 2013 2:52 pm
Hi, Paula! My meat grinder includes the sausage making attachment, another $7.00 on Amazon. I also picked up all of the plates that did not come with the grinder as well as extra knives because they get lost very easily. With these reinforcments I not only process meat but I can grind vegetables for relishes and chow chows. I like to have different sizes of grind for various veggies so all of the different plates help me accomplish that. There is a fruit/vegetable strainer available for the grinder, as well. The smaller plates I use for salsa and condiments.
Jan. 16, 2013 3:10 pm
Love the organized freezer! My DH used to make fun of me cause I turn all jars and cans so the front faces out and I rotate my stock the same as a store should. I have memories of my grandmother's pressure cooker screeching and my mother's dire predictions about explosions and scaldings. I do think I was scarred for life! I keep looking at them and thinking what good use I could make of one, but the fear holds me back. You'll have to keep us posted about your adventures in pressure cooking. BTW, are you sure the kitchen is the reason you are backing out of the Hawaii trip? I heard you were being touted as Hula-Hula Guylore!
Jan. 16, 2013 5:07 pm
Jan. 16, 2013 5:18 pm
I never made pasta before, I want to make it! I'm going to ask my husband to get down the pasta maker, so I can give it a try. Oh Boy! Thanks for the inspiration!
Jan. 16, 2013 5:54 pm
It's easy, BNC! It does require attention to dough consistency and moisture content for a smooth end product. Give it a try! Good luck and have fun!
Jan. 16, 2013 6:19 pm
I'm with BigShotsMom,my sister in law had a pressure cooker,and it flipped it's lid when i was there,scarry,so i will never have one.To the people that like them and use them,i think that's great,just not for me.
Jan. 16, 2013 7:46 pm
The new countertop electric pressure cookers are quite safe.The temperature is pre-set and cannot be adjusted. To change the doneness of the recipe, you add to or reduce the cooking time. Much safer.
Jan. 16, 2013 7:48 pm
Good to know Mike,thanks.
Jan. 16, 2013 8:46 pm
I love my undercabinet lights - - and I agree with you that they are so worth the investment that unless you're very good at designing and installing them yourself - have an expert come and give you an estimate for having it done - - and it is worth every penny when your kitchen is important to you. And I had to laugh at the compartmental organization of your freezer - - only because I worked as a cook at a fraternity house that the only freezers they had for a house of 120 guys were 2 deep chest freezers. And when you get a boat load delivery from the food vendor - unless you are very organized as to how and where all that stocks goes into each freezer - - lets just say you'd better be very organized or you will soon resemble a hump-back whale from all the bending, pullng, sorting and shifting. . . . THERE SHE BLOWS!!!! LOL - - - I hope your kitchen remodel goes well and I vote that your new pic avatar be a picture of you in that hula skirt!!
Jan. 17, 2013 7:08 am
Pig in a Pit. Well, I don't know about the whole pig. We do have pits and ponds though. Might import some sand and a palm tree make it a little more festive for those us non Maui attendees.
Jan. 17, 2013 9:12 am
Will you bring pasta salad to the Buckeye Bash in June? ;-)
Jan. 17, 2013 2:12 pm
Anytime, manella!
Jan. 17, 2013 2:15 pm
No need for the palm tree and sand, Cat, but the pig in a pit must stay! Amazon has some excellent prices on grass skirts. Check 'em out!
Jan. 17, 2013 2:21 pm
Here's what I have in mind for that pasta salad, midwest chef. Spaghetti, strawberry jello, canned tuna, chocolate Dream Whip served with a dollop of garlic and olive hummus.
Jan. 17, 2013 2:25 pm
You seem like a sane person,luv2cook. That's remarkable after cooking for a frat! I hope Baking Nana will go to a professional lighting place. She's been shopping for lighting a long time.
Jan. 17, 2013 2:27 pm
As for me in a grass skirt? Naw! I'm thinking malo.
Jan. 17, 2013 3:46 pm
You know, I have been checking on things to make a mock luau and I am coming up with ideas. I've noticed though, fruitcake is not on the list of things one needs for such a festivity :)(:
Jan. 17, 2013 4:02 pm
One important thing to know about luau's in the islands is, there are no mosquitoes! That's important if we wear original Hawaiian attire! ... I bet Mr. Cat Hill has a very good idea of what fruitcake will be there!
Jan. 18, 2013 9:25 am
Just to let you know Mike - I will drag No Baking Papa to a lighting store this weekend. I will let you know what I find.
Jan. 18, 2013 3:15 pm
Good for you and please do!
Jan. 18, 2013 3:48 pm
LOLOLOL! Yep he is full of ideas and none of them include fruitcake! :)(:
Jan. 18, 2013 7:22 pm
Gosh, so many topics in a nutshell. (Not referring to you, Mike.) Congrats on the pasta attachment. Sounds like fun! I don't have a Kitchenaid, just a Sunbeam Mixmaster (a basic model without available attachments). I use it so infrequently that I've only used it once in the last several years, that I didn't recognize the darn thing. It was still in the box with a mere dusting of flour, so at least I know I used it once, LOL. I'll have to give a whole chicken a try in my pressure cooker (it's not a countertop model, though). I have got to try the bin method in the freezer, but I have to defrost the darn thing first. I need to start using the meal planner more frequently. I too purchase items and haven't printed out the recipe and forget what I bought stuff for. Like why do I have 2 jars of hoisin sauce in the cabinet? Probably goes with the can of water chestnuts. Best do some diving into my recipe box. Dang, I was so hoping to have you and the Mrs. in Maui, but I already have a lei ready for you that will be lei-ing in wait in your comfy trunk digs. Long comments? Yeah, they don't bother me either.
Jan. 18, 2013 7:45 pm
It was give up Maui or dip into retirement funds or borrow money. Maui was the one that would cause least harm. We really wanted to go but if you could see the current kitchen, dining and laundry rooms you would totally agree with our decision. ... Take advantage of the big freezer outside to store your freezer items. When we had ours emptied and unplugged from power, it was only a couple of hours and the frost was loose enough on the side that we could slip a stiff metal spatula between the frost and the wall that huge chunks would fall off easily. We then went shopping for those bins. All in all the defrost effort was about 3 1/2 hrs. ... I am hoping to make both the Midwest Roundup and the Buckeye Bash. They are consecutive weekends so Mrs. Mike may not make one of them because of the time off from work. We'll see. She has one more day off each week this year. ... She still has her Sunbeam Mixmaster after many years of mixing bread, cakes etc. It would still be in use if our daughter had not got the Kitchen Aid for Chrismas 2010.
Jan. 19, 2013 9:38 am
Just wondering out loud why you blog doesn't show up under "Most Popular Blogs"?
Jan. 19, 2013 10:47 am
They haven't shown there in a long time, bd. The human judge will have explain. Maybe I'n not good looking enough! It can't be a computer thing because my posts fulfill everything that the listed blog do. Sometimes more! Really, not an issue with me though. I enjoy the readers and commenters that I do get.
Jan. 19, 2013 2:57 pm
bd - we've been wondering that for a long time now. Quite irritating, in fact.
Jan. 19, 2013 2:58 pm
Mike, the Magnolia Blossom Inn is open for business for you (and the Mrs, if available) and Sparkle Britches.
Jan. 19, 2013 6:59 pm
Once again, thank you for the hospitality, Magnolia Blossom! I haven't given a solid commitment because of the kitchen remodel. It can be approved at any time and whatever the start date is, that's what we have to roll with. If it hits in June, we're out.
Jan. 21, 2013 1:01 pm
I just had to ask the powers that be why I see no Harvey blogs on the top 5. Still waiting for an answer :) BTW I forgot to say how cool about the attachment to extrude noodles. I need one now with all my eggs. I would rather remodel a dog house then do another remodel in the main house. HeHe
Jan. 23, 2013 2:43 pm
I have sent an email to them, also Cat. I decided I should know what the deal is. ... The pasta extruder has been fun the three times I have used it. I expect I'll make the thin spaghetti tomorrow.
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Mike Harvey, daPITA

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About Me
At age 16, I began cooking when my mother was injured in an accident that kept her off her feet for five weeks. At first, my repertoire was fried hot dogs with pork and beans, boiled hot dogs with macaroni and cheese or pizza from a box. After a couple weeks of this, my younger brother was the first to protest and demand variety and my dad was quick to support him. That was my first cooking challenge, learning to plan a meal. About that time, mom returned from the hospital and from her bed, began teaching me things like roast beef, fried chicken, stews and all the sides and trimmings. In 1967, I married and my wife designated herself as the cook and this continued until 1999. It was then that I (voluntarily) began cooking again. At some point, I realized that I was having fun and began searching for recipes that were more challenging and interesting. I found AR and used it's recipes for a long time before registering and later becoming an active member.
My favorite things to cook
Soups. How can I go wrong? They are a great way to use up leftovers and those veggies that are approaching the end of their usefulness. They are always an original recipe. Roasts and steaks are favored, also. Getting the right "doneness" and choosing appropriate sides for a tastey and attractive meal is a continuing and always evolving menu.
My favorite family cooking traditions
If creating impulsive menus and recipes is a tradition then, (I guess) we have a tradition. A new tradition is developing. I have a fruitcake recipe that, I believe, is near perfection. I make it just before Thanksgiving so it is aged enough for the Christmas/ New Year holidays.
My cooking triumphs
Without a doubt, my own recipe for a Reuben Sandwich. It has been a demanded item for many years and I shared it in my AR blog.
My cooking tragedies
Too many. I have been able to throw them out and have something new before my wife gets home. Most of the time, anyway.
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