Reading versus Comprehension

Have you ever spent so much time watching cooking & food shows on tv that you begin to salivate, daydream, then move along to actually getting off your ass to cook something similar? I wanted something gumbohey, something with bold flavors, something I could cook for a Tuesday evening.  Chuck Taggart’s Simple Chicken Gumbo was a clear choice.  I used it once before years ago, what could possibly go wrong?

Me.  I spent an evening, then the the morning after making my lists.  I wanted to make his Creole Seasoning too, wanted it oh so special. I got the veggies all neatly diced, got the meats all browned and set aside.  Heated up the cast iron French oven and made a badass roux, all dark and smoky. Dumped in the veggies for the 4 minute sweating, stirred and scraped. Then fell stupid quiet, jaw on ground.  The realization hit me, while looking at the nearly full pot of veggies only, “It’s not all going to fit”.

Dumbass.  Duh, 4 quarts of liquid, huge amounts of veggies and 4+ pounds of meat going in to a 5 quart pot? Dumbass.  I was all ready to put everything together and get it in to the oven!  Nope. And you know what?  I had no other oven-ready pot to put it in. Dumbass.

Then I remembered I have several shelves of cookware in the garage, a-way out in the back, that might contain something I could use.  I dragged in my camp dutch oven, the one with the 3 legs. It didn’t sit so well on the stove, all cattywompus.  But it was good enough to get everything up to temperature, then get it in to the oven, on the pizza stone. Good thing for the stone, eh? Without that I would have had another problem with those legs sitting all funky.

Instead of 1 hour, I did 1.5 hours at 375.  And even after my goof, dinner came out wonderful and on time. Remember, simply reading a recipe is completely different than actually paying attention to what you require to get the job done.  Dumbass.

xo, Biggles

Cookin’ – Recycled Gourmet Appurtenances

Back in March when Meathenge Labs hosted a small, impromptu Dutch Oven Gathering a used cookware store in San Francisco was talked about.  Me being the backwoods hillbilly that I am hadn’t heard of it. I was promised that some day in the future we’d all go and have some fun.  It took more than a few months, but we finally did it!

Tiny E and I headed out from sleepy little Richmond with hope in our hearts and a whopping 10 dollars in our pockets. Was fine though, it was more about the adventure than coming back with a truckload of jewels, goblets and fry pans.  We found and parked at Kajsa’s & Cameron’s apartment with fair ease. We had to hike in about 9 million miles, but such is the burden of living in a large city with very little available parking.

Cookin’ is housed in a bitchen old building with rough wooden floors directly located on Divisadero. While it’s organized to the teeth, it’s an exceptionally packed solid type of organization.  Floor to ceiling type of packed.  Floor to ceiling with probably more than 80 years worth of kick ass cookware and related implements.

Need a Griswold cast iron skillet? Enamel cast iron oven or pan? Solid copper sauce pan? A Farberware whatever to fill a hole in your mother’s collection? It’s there in spades. Huge spades, huge bucktoothed spades.

I noticed it was going to take probably 2 to 3 runs through the store before my eyeballs and brain were able to make any sense of what was and what it might be. To discern if there was anything there that I just had to have, something I couldn’t possibly leave behind.

Nah, ol’ Biggles’ kitchen is pretty well stocked and I wasn’t able to find anything I had to have.  I was interested in a few of the old cake holder container rigs.  You know the ones, right?  Put cake on platter, then a nifty cover goes over said cake to keep it fresh for a day or two?

The owner had half dozen or so, but they were priced way, way, way out of my price range. We’re talking a thrift store find for 8 to 15 dollars and she was asking 40 dollars and more.  Not interested. In fact, the entire store is priced at maybe solid ebay prices for collector pieces.  I looked, but wasn’t able to find one deal to be had. She knew what she had and priced it accordingly. That’s fine, it’s not as though you can walk down the street to the next recycled cookware store and buy the same thing for less. She’s got a corner on the market and is acutely aware of it.

All in all we greatly enjoyed the afternoon out and I would certainly stop by again in the future.  If you truly need something soon, then by all means stop by and get it!  It just has to be in there, somewhere. But if you’re not crazy hot to have it right now? Give yourself a breather and keep your eyes peeled at local thrift stores, garage sales and deals on the internets. That and gifts from friends and family is where most of my gear came from.

xo, Biggles

Cookin’ – Recycled Gourmet Appurtenances 339 Divisidero San Francisco 415.861.1854

Meathenge Labs – A Trek in to the World of Baking Treats!

Hmm, let’s see here.  I’m 47 and have been cooking since I was about this tall. But as close as I’ve ever come to baking was helping my grandmother and uncle at a tender young age. Sure I’ve put together maybe 2 batches of cookies and there’s one wheat bread post here on Meathenge proper since then. But I’ve always been someone who stoutly vocalized, “I am not a baker!” For me, cooking and baking are not the same. I do not enjoy following recipes, exactly. And brother? For baking, there are rules.

This Meat Enthusiast was laid off after 21 years this last July. Nah, don’t cry for me. No love lost there. It has given me some much needed time to rethink my self proclaimed status of a non-baker. Today I consider myself someone who has embarked on a lifelong journey in to baked goodies. And what better way to start off on such a journey, than cookies? Banana bread? Eh?

I can still remember my grandmother and uncle giving me a few pointers about measuring dry goods, bringing unsalted butter n eggs to “room temperature”. So, armed with that knowledge and a few copies of The Joy of Cooking, I’ve been making a wonderful mess in the kitchen. And you know what?  I’ve been nailing the recipes! No burning, great crumb, moist n rich, perfect in every way. Nestle’s bitter-sweet morsels fell very short of my adult expectations though.  They were quickly swapped out for the Ghirardelli counterpart and promptly scored a 10.

No recipes today, no special procedures. Only a nudge to consider knocking out some baked love while the smoker or grill is hard at work in the blustery fall weather. The smell of fresh bread wafting from your oven has a very similar effect that bacon and burning mesquite does.

xo, Biggles

ps – I did end up having to buy a thermometer for the oven. A baked chicken doesn’t care much if it’s roasting at 450 or 475. But a cookie does, a loaf of bread does. Must have an accurate oven brother man.


Warehouse Cafe – Port Costa California

Bikers, Pirates, Gypsies & Artists, oh my. Have you ever been to Port Costa? It’s a tiny town nestled in low rolling hills on the Carquinez Strait between Crockett and Martinez in West Contra Costa County. The only way in or out is 1 little two lane road that winds its way in and around.  It’s absolutely stunning and considering it’s been there since 1879, the architecture is absolutely badass.

Other than people, homes and character, there isn’t much going on in Port Costa. And it’s clear the populace likes it that way.  Don’t count on any cell connection either, ain’t gonna happen. Unless you’re at the bar, they have wireless action for everyone. Bikers & Gypsies need wi-fi too, eh.

Down at the end of the main street, nestled at the waterfront, is a dirt parking lot that’s usually populated by Harleys, 30+ year old American cars & trucks and whatever else the locals have drug in.  Park here.  Head back up and make a left turn in to the bar or restaurant, don’t matter which door you use, it’s all connected.

The Warehouse Cafe and biker bar has been around for years  and the decor is heavily eclectic to say the least.   On Friday and Saturday evenings their kitchen opens up and as my sister says, “They serve Steak & Meat”. And brother, or sister, that’s exactly what they do!  New York Steak, 1 pound. Prime Rib, 1 pound. Lobster?  I forget, but I’m sure it’s huge. Along with the meat, taters and delectable simmered mushrooms you get a happy salad bar option, home simmered pot o’ chili and clam chowder. Need to wash it down with something cool and refreshing? They tout 400 varieties of beer, that’s a lot just so you know. They don’t deny the chillin’s a menu either, it goes like this: New York Steak, 1/2 pound. Prime Rib Dinner, 1/2 pound. Lobster …, well you get the idea.

The chile was pretty darned good! Solid chile pepper flavors, hunks of well simmered tasty beefs, beans had good tooth action. I’d offer up a shot of the salad, but who cares?  I don’t. You’re lucky you get this funky shot of the chili.

And now?  The piece of resistance!

Yup, you guessed it, I ordered the Prime Rib dinner served medium rare. It was perfect in every way.  The bark had caramelly rosemary additions, fatty goodness throughout and bloody red from edge to edge. If I remember semi-well, each dinner was about $25 bux and worth every fricken penny.

Everyone at the table thoroughly enjoyed the surroundings, the food and the waitstaff couldn’t have been more attentive and hooohot. I was able to get a few bites of my neighbor’s new york 1 pounder and next time I come for dinner, this is what I will be ordering.  While the prime rib was awesome, as with the standing rib beef roasts, they’re on the mild side. Their new york cut was grilled well and had a mouthful of beef flavor explosions that blew the mild yet tasty rib roast out of the water.  Pow, just like that.  See?  Boom!  Beef flavor explosions!  MmmMMm, steak and meat.

xo, Biggles

Warehouse Cafe

5 Canyon Lake Dr
Port Costa, CA 94569

(510) 787-1827

Jalapeno Poppers via 11 year old boy & youtube

I’ve got 2 boys, 1 of which will eat pretty much anything and enjoys it all.  The 11 year old however, ain’t quite as easy to please.  So, when you-know-who found a recipe for the J Poppers on youtube and wanted to make them?  I backed him up 110%.  He selected Jack & Mozzarella made in to a slurry with cream cheese.  Even sliced open the peppers and cleaned them out himself.  I’d always done them by slicing off the top, but he did it lengthwise so they made a cheesy boat.  Wrapped with bacon and in to a pre-heated Char-broil Smoker Roaster Grill set to maybe a little under halfway on the volume knob.  Dang boy!  They were good.

xo, Biggles

Jones’ BBQ – El Sobrante California

Yeah, yeah, I’ve reviewed Jones’ BBQ before, quite some time ago actually.  And, if my swiss related memory served me correctly it came to 3 different times spanning from 2004 ending in November of 2005. Never was able to get anything worth finishing, toss. No smoky goodness, sauce that over powered by the 3rd bite and lackluster sides.  Oh the horrors!

Wait a minute, wait just a goldarned minute.  Uh, if we use math, that’d be over 5 years ago.  Really?  Honestly, it only seems like a few years ago. I just went back and checked, yup. It was nearly 6 years ago I last stopped by.  Seems only fair I give them another shot, eh? Besides, I was pale & shaking from lack of food and this hillbilly was hungry!

As you can see, this here is California BBQ. It comes slathered in sauce. Sure, I could have asked for it on the side and they would have gladly obliged me, not a problem. But wanted to see how it came without my direction, next time it’s sauce on the side. And, was a little disappointed to see hunks of chicken breast instead of chicken parts. The way I figure it, they were probably out of parts and made do with what they had on hand, totally acceptable.

The sauce has changed greatly over the last 5+ years, far thinner with some sweet action followed by a nice bite of vinegar.  It was good, not over powering. And you know what?  Each and every bite had smoky flavors! That’s right folks, smoky love was present this time. Each and every bite of chicken and ribs were tender and smoky. The rib meat came from the bone with a tug, chicken had good texture. I ordered a side of tater salad and beans, they were fine.  Nothing to write home about and could have used 3 packets of hot sauce on top. But brother, or sister, I wasn’t there for the sides. It’s all about the meat!

To sum it all up, this 2 way combo of chicken & ribs totally didn’t suck. A bit pricey at 22 bux, but I suppose that’s pretty much standard for the San Francisco Bay Area. If you’re local and haven’t been or haven’t been in a while, stick your neck in the door and have a try. I’ll be back and will see how their fried chicken is doing.  I enjoyed it the last time, I remember Chilebrown wasn’t impressed though.  MMmMm, fried chicken.

Jones’ BBQ
3550 San Pablo Dam Road #B3
El Sobrante, CA 94803

xo, Biggles

Fatted Calf Newsletter – Little Lamb Leg Roasts stuffed with Picholine Tapenade & Duck Crepinettes

CHECK OUT THAT PORK ROAST !!! This is clear evidence that last week’s special, Berkshire Pork Shoulder Roasts stuffed with Lemon, Green Garlic, Spring Onions and Greens existed and ruled the planet for a few hours. If you have any doubts whatsoever about the quality of these specialty roasts from Fatted Calf, doubt it no longer pally boy. I have PROOF !!!
And now, do you have any doubts about the Little Lamb Leg Roasts stuffed with Picholine Tapenade? No, I didn’t think so. Run, don’t walk to their order here page. I just did, heh. I feel as though it’s time for a smoke.
OoOoOoo, look! Duck Crepinettes with Roasted Walnuts and St. George Kirsch. Love the duck, I think it’s time for a package of 2, eh? Yes. Well, as near as I can tell, FC has a totally bitchen menu this week. And you know what? The weather looks as though it will not suck. A fresh spring day out at the farmer’s market, I can’t think of doing much else. The green garlic is out, asparagus is plentiful and tons of great citrus. I got a load of these really cool little grapefruits last week, so nice. The best part is that they taste like they’re supposed to. Not like those old grocery store ones. You know? The ones where it’s a crap shoot whether it tastes worth while or not? TOSS.
So, pack up your reusable sack and hit the market this weekend. I hope to see you there!
Please read on to Fatted Calf’s Newsletter not written by me …

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My smoker can totally kick your smoker’s ASS.

It was exactly 2 weeks ago when an email from Toponia rolled in. I noticed it just as the sun was going down on a nice spring evening. One of those evenings when the doors are open, windows are open and the neighborhood is so quiet all you can hear are the mosquito hawks knocking against the walls. Their smoker needed a new home, either mine or someone else’s, and we had barely 3 weeks to get it out. Did Meathenge Labs have the room? Was I willing to negotiate this 1200 pound beast out and through our citiy’s little streets? In a 1974 Ford pickup truck belching black smoke at every turn?

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Omaha Steaks – Customer Service Award of the Year


ACK !! HANG ON !!! It’s not what you think. Hang with me for a moment.
I’m not a huge fan of frozen meat. I’m not a huge fan of freezing many foods. Ice cream freezes really well and so does stock. Ice cubes are a perfect candidate for your freezer, either a top mounted rig or the fancy bottom freezer models. And I’m still not a fan of frozen meat. Mostly because living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I can get some world-class fresh meat on a daily basis with little or no effort. So, why should I bother with Omaha Steaks?

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Berkshire Pork Shoulder Roasts stuffed with Lemon, Green Garlic, Spring Onions and Greens – Fatted Calf News

I know it’s late and past ordering time, but I just placed my order for the above roast. I’m getting MINES!
Man, I think last Friday was the 2nd time I’ve missed reposting my version of Fatted Calf’s weekly newsletter. What kind of insane world do we live in? And this week? I’m a day late! Yeah, you know whut? Took the week off and have probably been at the computer no more than 20 minutes the entire week. While some of you let loose a scream only heard by those exposing vampires to sun, it’s been painfully nice. Wiggling ones toes in the freshly cut grass while pondering whether to trim the rose bushes or whip out the 5hp briggs & stratton tiller for some fun is a tough decision at best enjoyed over a cool refreshing beverage. Oh, that’s why the grass ain’t cut yit. Heh. Guess the grass was longer than I remember …
Hey everyone, it’s good to see your faces. Listen up, this week’s Fatted Calf menu is pretty fricken cool. Their newsletter rolls out with someone there attending a hog killin’ at a local ranch of some sort. Oh no you DIDN’T. Don’t EEEVEN give me that crap. Listen up, if you eat any kind of meat, some animal gave up the greatest good. And it’s only right that everyone that eats thine flesh watch. Pay your respect and love for that beast. Otherwise? See you in the vegetable isle pally boy, or girl. I think everyone should attend such a thing. Humans are omnivores, plain and simple. Think different? Check out those choppers in your mowf. They meant for meat, get over it. You don’t have to eat it every second, nor do you have to club people over the head because of it. We are what we are, enjoy the pork.
And oh what a pork we have! Berkshire Pork Shoulder Roasts stuffed with Lemon, Green Garlic, Spring Onions and Greens sits right at the top. And since I’m late here, prepare to show up at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market at 10am sharp or 10 minutes early. GET YOURS.
The number 2 thing to have a gander to is the Boudin Noir. This here people is the blood sausage. Honestly, it ain’t my trip. But many enjoy and if you do? This is the time to jump, because brother? It doesn’t get any better. How do I know? I don’t really, but I’ve never heard a bad word about said sausage.
Pork Crepinettes with Duck Liver, Pistachios, Caramelized Onions and Marsala come up 3rd in this line-up. Read those ingredients, I shouldn’t have to push here. You get the idea, get a package for a little happy in your life.
As I wrote the last line I went through their menu, top then down. Honestly, I could waste more of your time gushing. Read it, lust it and head out this coming Saturday moring for a little slice of heaven on this planet of crazy.

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Lapin de Garenne a la Chipolata – recipe from La Bonne Cuisine

Oh man oh man, oh man. The weather here is bright, warm and clear with a finish of crispy clean. The family and I recently returned from a fine 2 day getaway and are doing well. I come here today with a recipe I sorta followed from a newly translated cookbook, La Bonne Cuisine by Madame E. Saint-Ange. This revered tomb was lovingly translated by an amazing man by the name of Paul Aratow. Why am I so googly over such a cookbook? It was originally published in 1929 and has probably been a bible of sorts for many French Chefs since then, such as our beloved Julia Child. And today, I find it such a great big fat hairy deal because only last year was it released in English!
At first I considered the recipes a little long winded, mostly because for the 1 recipe I was interested in for that moment, I already knew most of the ins and outs. But then I realized, if someone didn’t know how to deal with wild game (a rabbit), this book lays it down so you know what to look for and how to judge. This book is a walk-through guide to French cooking and a glimpse in to the past. Some times it’s this good to be alive.
Before we dive in I would like to give a warm congratulations to Ten Speed Press of Berkeley for landing the opportunity to publlish this book. This most surely is a chesire moment for ya’ll. Okay then …
I have a whole fresh rabbit, a fancy cookbook and a little time. Interested to see how it all came together?

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Easter 2006 – Meathenge Style

Man oh man, you don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for this. Probably 6 months ago Meathead offered up this idea and I swore to the Norwegian Meat Gods I would carry it through. Rarely do I jump in to any holiday with themed recipes or foods for Meathenge, but this warranted my attention.
How could anyone pass up the opportunity to cook rabbit for the Easter holiday?

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Fluffy Friday – Travel to Furryville and visit the Pigby’s

My sister Kallisti of Blastmilk gifted me this set of little piggies and a stove the other day. She figured it was time to get some new props for Meathenge, she’s right. Said she bought them a while back and enjoyed them long enough, now it’s our turn.
I ran home early so I’d have time before dinner to set up and take me a shot. Something new to take pictures of, I couldn’t wait. They were all wrapped up in this clear plastic holding thingy and had cardboard props to make it look as though the pigs were in a country kitchen. This is what Furryville is, a country place. You know, out in the country? Pollen, pickup trucks and fruit pies, you know the place. They win the Furryville cooking competition each year, so says the little story book that comes with. I wanna know what they cooked with that 12 burner stove. I would do something with gravy, I think.
They need a little proppin’ up, don’t ya know. But how can you possibly resist? They gots chile pepper aprons !!! And, of course, they’re pigs. No sane person can ever resist a piggy.
Please welcome the Pigby family to Meathenge’s prop department, I’m sure they’ll have fun wherever they go.