Sept 14, 2011 - Free Time Should Be Spent Cooking! - Uncle Scott's Cooking Adventures Blog at - 250137

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Sept 14, 2011 - Free time should be spent cooking! 
Sep. 14, 2011 5:47 pm 
Updated: Sep. 15, 2011 7:10 pm
The first entry in my all recipes blog. ATM: I'm juggling a stock pot, trying to figure out where a mysterious clicking is coming from in my room, and surfing the internet all at the same time.

Today was productive, in a culinary way. I began by diagnosing a sick vacuum cleaner. It's my mom's 20 year old Rainbow and the engine seems to have seized up. I then moved on to a crepe badder that I had thrown together last night just out of experimentation. It had separated slightly, but after giving it a good stir, all seemed well. It was corn-meal based with slightly more salt than a standard crepe badder. The first crepe, as always, failed. But every other one turned out as well as could be expected, and for what I'm going to use them for in 2 weeks (obviously I'll be making fresh ones), they'll be perfect.

Then I ate breakfast, got together my weekly bank deposit, and grabbed up some mail. I ran my errands, came back and decided to get some other chores done before I got into my major cooking projects. I started by finally testing out some home-made concrete holders for my 11" tiki torches. With a twig or piece of cardboard to wedge the torches in, the holders work perfectly. Then I finally opened my new tent.

I hadn't even gotten it out of the amazon box that it was shipped in, so I was hoping that it was fine and I wouldn't have to spend the time/money to have it returned. After 5 mins or so I had it all set up, I got out my new air bed to make sure and vuala, it's perfect. The tent that I've used for years is slightly bigger, and the air beds that I would always use were queen-size. I'm quite happy sleeping on a single and the coleman 4-in-1 air bed is 2 singles that can zip/strap together to be either a double-high (mattress & box spring setup), a king, or be 2 separate twins. And since I'm going to be using my new tent for some cooler times of the year, it's smaller size will really help to insulate my body heat (I hope).

After taking it all down (I'm quite proud of how well I folded everything up. Tents, mattresses and sleeping bags are usually twice the size that it started out regardless of the tactics that I use) I swept out the garage, cleaned up the mess that was accumulating from my little projects and then swept off the drive way. And finally it was time to start on my major cooking projects.

I grabbed the jar of jalapeno slices, and the chicken I had in the garage fridge. I unwrapped the chicken and pirated 1 leg/thigh and both breasts with my boning knife. I really enjoy saving a ton of money by buying whole chickens. I'm perfectly willing to eat any part of a chicken, and I'm always left with plenty of bones / scraps to build stocks. So I stuck the breasts and leg/thigh into the freezer to be used on my camping trip in 2 weeks. And, for the first time in my life, I started a stock from entirely fresh, unfrozen chicken. I always do what most would consider half-batches because I like doing it and like the ease of control with smaller batches. I figured that this time I would make the stock with more chicken than normal, so I added my smallest frozen carcase. So it's not entirely fresh, but it's still gonna be good. I used 1 and 1/2 onions, 2 stalks of celery, 4 small carrots, about 15 peppercorns (I love peppercorn),  and 2 small bay leaves.

Right now the stock is 5 and 1/2 hours in and it's doing very well. So after cooking up a pound of ground beef into hamburgers, using up the other 1/2 onion and some tomatoes that I picked from our plants just today, I did some more cleaning but this time the kitchen was in need of attention. I put away the leftover hamburgers, filled + started the dish washer, cleaned the pans I used today, and then moved onto making some candied jalapenos (also for my camping trip).

I love this recipe, I take 1 jar of Mt Olive jalapeno slices, drain the liquid into a measuring cup (usually about 5-7 floz) and then add about 3/4c sugar (basically doubling the volume of the liquid). Then it's just a matter of bringing the mixture to a rapid boil in a small sauce pan, stirring frequently, and then adding the hot liquid back to the jalapenos. I fill it up to cover the jalapenos, but they tend to float in the syrup, so I pay more attention to the jar and fill it to the bottom of the rim that the lid fits around. I place it on the counter with the lid set on top (but not tightened) and let it cool for 10 mins or so, and move them to the fridge. They're good for-basically-ever! They're best with cream cheese on anything that cream cheese tastes good with, but I love them with corn bread!

I cleaned up again, and then moved to my computer and here I sit. Still baby-sitting my stock and about to move on to maybe my last project today, my own mix of taco seasoning (some of which will be used on my camping trip). It's really easy and is just a matter of proportions. You can use any spices that you like, but for taco seasoning the most important ingredients are cumin, onion, garlic, ground chile powder (with an 'E', that's important) like cayenne or ancho, and then... the secret to an awesome taco seasoning isn't in the flavor at all. It's in corn starch which is there to add a great deal of texture and to help bind things together. If you've ever had taco beef that had good flavor, but was crumbly, sort of greasy and didn't seem to stay in your taco, it was missing starch!

Alright, well I guess that's all I have time to write about today. Have a good night, and who knows if / when I'll be writing again.
Sep. 15, 2011 7:10 pm
I really enjoyed reading your blog. And ahhh that rainbow vacuums lol, you don't know how many times I had to stop in the middle of vacuuming to tell my dad that it needs fixing again. I believe his still works. He just doesn't use it as often because he has hard wood and ceramic flooring. Thanks for the pointers about cornstarch for homemade taco seasonings. I knew something was missing :/ . Also, your candies jalapenos sounds interesting. Have a great camping trip!
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