Friday, April 13, 2007

Greatest EVER Creamy Chicken Soup

Before I get to the food goodness that you all long for, I think I need to remind myself I've promised y'all a few stories. I shall tell you about a leg cast, and also about how I am the nicest guy ever (my bro-in-law may disagree).

However: you aren't getting either of those today. We are going to "Hide In The Woods" for the day and then go out to dinner. A whole day away from the house and the gang... ah... BLISS (insert singing angelic music here).

Speaking of hiding in the woods, remind me to tell you a story later on about that...

Alright. I've got 30 mins to type in the recipe for the Greatest EVER Creamy Chicken Soup. Ready? Hang on!

Greatest creamy chicken soup EVER!

This recipe may strike some of you as rather convoluted, but just trust me on this, ok? You'll also get to learn how to make fresh ricotta cheese along the whey (way).

What you need:

Whey from yesterdays ricotta cheese making
Chicken stock (either fresh or powdered)
4 or 5 strips of bacon
3 or 4 diced pototoes
2 cups (or so) of cream
pinch of flour

See! See??!! Doesn't that sound like a nice list? Very Very simple...

What you do:

To make the whey: mix 4 cups whole milk and 2 cups buttermilk in a pot. Heat slowly till curds form (182 F), let sit for a half hour while curds continue to form. Strain the curds through cheesecloth (now you know why it's called cheesecloth)-- I'll tell you next time about what to do with the curds as I'm running out of time this morning-- You'll be left with a quart or so of whey (the yellowish-greenish liquid after straining). That's the whey to use in the soup!

Ok, on with the show:

Fry up the bacon in the same pot you'll be doing the soup in. Remove the bacon just before it goes crispy. Add the diced potato to the bacon fat and fry for a minute while you get the flour out of the cupboard. Add a few large pinches of flour to the potatoes and continue cooking them (moving regularly with a spatula). After about 5 mins, add a cup (or so) of the whey. Stir well. You'll notice all the cooked on stuff from the bacon and spuds loosens and incorporates itself into the whey --this is called "deglazing".

Once the pot is deglazed, add in the rest of the whey and also the chicken stock. If using powdered stock, then 2 tbsp should do the trick, a cup or two if using liquid stock.

Bring it all to a low boil and simmer till the spuds are done to your liking. Add the cream, stir well. Crumble up the bacon and toss that in too.

Ta-Da! Done!

It is incredible, if I do say so myself! Serve with fresh homemade bread hot out of the oven.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Nanner, nanner, nanner!

Hey! I'm over 1000 visitors!!! Wee-Hooieee! Soon fame and fortune shall be mine... And I'd particularly like to share it all with my 2 or 3 loyal readers (whomever you may be). Huh? What's that you say? They don't give out massive cash prizes for things like this? You mean, I've wasted time hitting the "reload" button for NOTHING? Ah well, shit happens, and usually in large quantities, eh?

Last post didn't have anything to do with my favorite subject: FOOD. Please note, my second favorite is sleeping. Anyways, this post might bore some of you --as if I haven't already-- cus it's all got's to do with food.

We'll start with a recipe, but I'm sure I'll be meandering all over the food spectrum today, so please just bear with my ramblings.

Bananas Flambe --Dave style

What you knead:

Some firm bananas, pealed, and halved lengthwise
At least a half cup of butter
Half a cup (or so) of raw sugar
A splash of high quality rum

Before I start with the "what you due" section, there's a few points I'd like to write about regarding the above stuff.

Bananas vs plantains... Hey, anyone know Don King's phone number? Sounds like a good fight to me.

For those of you knot (not) in the know, a plantain IS a banana; just larger and starchier. Musa paradisica is the latin term for a plantain. Since a plantain is much starchier (I love that word: STARCHIER) than a standard banana --Musa sapientia-- you have to make sure it's cooked longer than a banana. So if you are using plantains in this recipe, make sure you slice them thinly and cook them longer.

Trivia: You've all scene (seen) seens (scenes) of a jungle on the Telly (TV) where banana trees abound --Oh Puuuuuh-leeeeaaaassssseeee try to say that fast! But it may interest you to know (and then again, maybe not) to learn that a banana plant is botanically classified as an HERB. Gotta love them big herbs. Yo, Herb! Is that you dude?

Next topic: sugar... raw sugar is what used to be known as brown sugar yonks ago (a long time ago). It now means ugly refined sugar with ultra-processed molasses added --YUCK! So... Raw Sugar Is Cool.

High Quality Rum: I don't think I need to talk about the fact that 151 from the Windies is best, eh?

Oh crap, almost forgot: what do you get when you heat butter and sugar in a saucepan? You get butterscotch (duh). Guess what? It orginates from the same area as Scotch! You know: Scotland. Traditional butterscotch is a hard candy-like treat; the mixture is allowed to cool, then it hardens, then you eat it. The wonderful butterscotch topping that you are all familiar with that is put upon your ice cream has lemon juice and cream added to it while cooking the mix in a double boiler. Let me know if you want to know how to make your own, no worries.

Ok, back to the recipe:

What you due

Melt the butter and sugar in a fry pan. When it's melted, put the bananas in. Turn them after a few mins so that they are browned on both sides (hey, it's just sugar). Then toss in the splash of 151 dark rum (reserving enough for the cook), then light it (if you have a gas cooker you don't need to light it, it should light itself).

When the flames die down (die flames, DIE), serve it up over vanilla ice cream, making sure you pour lots of the flambeed butterscotch topping over it.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Watch out for that first step...

Well, well; let's find out if I can post? Hmmmm, yup, old ancient dial-up from Oz shakes hand with blogger and even lets me login this time! Wee-Hoo!

It's not that I've be purposely ignoring the blog (and I've got a great story for you), but there are many times I can't connect to any secure server in the US from here with an old dial-up account. Gee dave, why don't you get broadband? Because we live in one of the very very very very few areas in the Hills that CAN'T get it! Oh, Telstra finally offered the area wireless broadband --at a disgustingly over-inflated price and with only a 50 meg download per month before it reverts to dial-up speeds... JERKS!

I can hear you folks in the US gasping that our broadband is capped each month, you want more megs --then you PAY loads for it.

Ah well, the price I have to pay for living in a year round summer paradise with free health care for all.

Getting back to the Alaskan Dave Down Under theme, I have a story for you. It is the story of the picture a few posts ago. Here is the pic again:

Why Did The Two Idiots Jump Off The Roof?

Remember, the bloke on the left in the red jacket (John) is now a brain surgeon, and the bloke in the blue snow pants is yours truly.

It all started when myself and two friends (they were also my teaching assistants at UAF) were renting a house close to the U. The three of us had the upstairs, and the downstairs was rented by John's girlfriend and one of her lady friends.

Do I even need to bother to tell you that there were some pretty fantastic parties at that house that year? Well, there was! Hey, I can light (and keep lit) the charcoal grill when it's -52 F outside and we had 20 people over for seafood shish-kabobs. But that is another story (along with the 3 gallons of Jim O'Briens Hurricane Punch).

That winter was also one of the heaviest snowfall season that Fairbanks had seen in many a decade! Quite a few rooves in some older houses collapsed, so did many sheds. Over at the party house, the girls couldn't see out of the downstairs windows, and you could practically step off the balcony onto the snow. John enjoyed the shovelling (he's from Alabama), but Jim and I grew up doing that crap so we let him have all the snow shovelling fun --aren't we nice?

One of the nice things about Fairbanks snow is that it is very soft and dry. Heck, you could stuff your pillow with it and it'd be softer than goose down!

Anyways, back to the story... One fine spring day in March, I was actually helping John shovel off the balcony/deck out front. As we puched the snow off the balcony, we noticed it formed a really really nice high pile of soft snowy goodness. Being the naturally inquisitive young blokes that we were at the time, we decided to climb onto the balcony railing and jump into the pile of snow. FUN! WEE-HOO!

We soon noticed that as we extracated ourselves from the pile of snow and floundered through the yard, that the snow in the yard was about SIX FEET DEEP and it was also pure, soft, pristine, powder... Our thoughts then went into overdrive as we looked at the roof at the top of the second story and then at the six feet deep powder in the yard.

Can anyone guess what came next? Let me tell you:

We got the big extension ladder from around back, leaned it up to the lowest part of the roof, and then climbed up. When we got to the roof, we quickly went right back down and grabbed shovels as the snow on the roof was over 3 feet deep. It took us the better part of an hour to shovel out a trench to get to the high part of the roof. When we looked down, we noticed the snow close to the house wasn't NEARLY as deep as the stuff in the yard --that could hurt... So we spent the next 20 mins digging out a trench of the top of the roof for a "run-up".


When we were finally ready to jump, John and I stood at the edge of the roof for A LONG TIME looking down. It's odd how when you are on the ground looking up the height doesn't seem that high... But when you are up there looking down, it's seems like you are looking off a mile high cliff.

Who should drive by, but our landlord and his wife. Yup, no joke. John and I instantly went over to a section of the roof and started shovelling snow off it in the hope that they'd figure we are doing them a great favor. Guess what? It worked! Ten minutes later they drove off.

John and I go back to the precipice...

By now, some neighborhood kids had showed up to watch (as you can tell from the photo).

John and I jumped...


More freefall...


Whiteness everywhere, bright sky overhead, and still the feet hadn't touched the ground! WOW! FUN! HOLY SHIT LET'S DO IT AGAIN!!!! Then spend five mins "swimming/crawling" out of the post hole we each had made in the yard.

Oh, WAIT! Let's get Jim to take a picture! Jim had (wisely) decided not to partake in this pasttime, so we figured he could take a pic or two.

That's the story behind the pic. Second jump of the day off the roof. We did four more jumps each, and then we didn't trust ourselves to not hit one of the existing holes. The neighborhood kids were BEGGING us to let them jump off our roof. However, these were probably the same brats that knocked over one of our 6 foot high snow turrets we built along the driveway the week before so we didn't let them. Ha, serves em right!

So there you go, nothing broken, totally sober, and we even shovelled the roof too.

Hmmmm, that was a pretty lame story dave... anything else? Well, yeeeeeessssss...


One of my buddies came over and I told him what we did. He really really really wanted to jump off the roof. But there were no safe landing areas off the side where we KNEW the lawn was bare. Buuuuuuuuuutttttttt on the other side was snow that *looked* smooth, deep, and soft. Needless to say, Al and I clambored onto the roof, shovelled out a trench to the far side of the house, and jumped. Wee-fun! In fact, we jumped a couple more times!

After the spring melt, we found out that we were landing just a foot or so away from a pile of twisted wire and picket fencing. Ooooooo, that coulda hurt --a lot. I think my guardian angel had to work extra hard that weekend. When I showed the pile of twisted wire and sharp pickets to Al a few months later, all he said was, "Wow, good thing we missed that. Wanna beer?"

I'd give you a food post today, but I just want to get this story up, so hang tight till later for more food goodiness.