Meathenge’s Whip Cream Journey or Merry Christmas !!!

A way back in the early ’90s I stopped off at Fat Apples restaurant in El Cerrito for a cup of coffee. 9 million years ago this was the place that was originally named Fat Albert’s, but was quickly shut down due to the illegal use of a trademarked name. I had grabbed my coffee, and poked around for the half & half. None to be found! What I did find was a container of Manufacturing Cream. Real cream in coffee?  Count me in!

Whatever it was, left a long lasting impression on me. Even today I can remember the euphoric experience in nearly detail. I searched for it over the coming day, weeks and months. But never could I find it, not even a glimmer. At some point I was told that it was a food service product, only available to restaurants, bakeries and wherever else I clearly wasn’t.

A few weeks ago I was grabbing my ubiquitous gallon of 2% at Smart & Final, a commercial type grocery store that is “open to the public”. I looked up and to the right, there she was. A half gallon of Manufacturing Cream. I wanted, no needed this magical, loaded with butter fat, container of love.

So far, everyone here at Meathenge Labs finds that whipped cream made from this stuff totally eclipses anything it’s put over.  Not only that, it’s stable as gosh.  A day later, on the counter or in the fridge, it doesn’t separate or go south. I suppose being 40% plus on butter fat probably has something to do with it, eh?

Go now, find this wonderful elixir of the gods. Make your holidays, make your Christmas extra special and make some whipped cream from Manufacturing Cream.

xo, Biggles

Steamy Lemon Pastry Filling

Yeah!  And a solid, Yahoo!  Am in the middle of making a poppy seed cake from The Joy of Cooking.  The poppy seeds are supposed to soak for a few hours in milk before you put the cake together.  At the bottom of the recipe I noticed that you’re supposed to make Lemon Pastry Filling, even gave a page number for the recipe.  Took a little perusing because on that page, it’s called Lemon Filling, leaving out the word “Pastry”.  That wasn’t cool because there are several other lemon filling recipes and I had to figure out which was which for what excuse. Again, reading and comprehension.  Ug.

In any case, decided to make the lemon filling while the poppy seeds did their deed.  And guess what?  I got to separate my first egg !!!  That’s right, it’s taken Biggles 47 years to separate a yolk from the white.  Pretty scary, eh?

So far, all is well.

xo, Biggles

Aluminum-free baking powder good – Double acting baking powder bad?

I can run with the ingredient snobs all day without breaking a sweat. It comes second nature to me and I enjoy it. Nothing like self-proclaiming that you’re better than everyone else, right?

Welp, yesterday my friend Jeffrey Davila and I were chatting via email about his recipe for some savory scones.  He was kind enough, later on the in the day, to forward over the recipe. I smiled as he noted Organic this and Fresh that, OH Jeffrey.  Well, one of the notations on his recipe was to use Baking Powder with no Aluminum. Aroo?

At the time I was thinking about the packaging, some reaction with an aluminum container.  Well, after a 2 second search on google, I received my answer. We gots our baking powder with no Sodium Aluminum Sulfate, and we have our Double Acting Baking powder that has it.  Mmmmmkay.

As near as I can tell, the Double Acting Baking powder rises in the mixing bowl, then again in the oven. Sounds fine, but as it turns out, if you really want to dial in a noticeable taste in your baked goods you must use the NO aluminum baking powder. And, no mosey action on getting your batter in to the oven.  Move along little doggy!

I’m on my way to learning the ins and outs here.  Good thing this here can of baking powder didn’t cost me 52 million dollars. I can just toss the sucker and buy Rumford or similar.

xo, Biggles

Happy Turkey Day with Scones Day of Love

From everyone here at Meathenge Labs, we wish you a happy Turkey Day!

By the closing of this last work week our family related plans all feel short. A major cooking holiday and all we have to do is hang around in our jammies and bake treats?  Count me in!

Earlier this morning found Tami Numnums and myself in the kitchen.  I purchased the ingredients a week ago and it’s taken me this long to get in to the kitchen and knock these suckers out. Cutting in butter or lard to a flour mixture correctly has always eluded me. I’ve had enough of that and it’s time that Biggles learn how to bake, and bake well enough to at least be edible.

The recipe came from The Joy of Cooking, added 1 cup of frozen blackberries.  Not fricken bad for a first try, came out pretty well.  However, 1 tablespoon of sugar was not nearly enough.  I need to try this again and double it, see what that does.  If I can get a little more sweetness in there, they’ll be perfect and ready to go in to daily if not weekly production.  Easier to make than cookies!

xo, Biggles

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.


Oh, bacon fat, is there anything you can’t do?

Hi Everybody,
I’ve got a little tidbit here, filled with yummy tastes that I wanted to share with you.
Considering the crowd I hang with, this is pretty much heresy. But considering how busy and changing my daily life is, how much do you think my Care Level is? Yeah, like negative 90 million. Tiny E enjoys mixing powders with eggs, butter and whatever else. Putting them in to cups and cooking them is all that’s important. If I can shave 30 minutes off prep time for nap time? Count me in.
So, on a walk-by whim, I bought this:

I didn’t look at the instructions or ingredients, just bought. It was something to share with the little dude. Damn, I made a great choice.
After reading the instructions, I needed to add an egg, some milk and melted butter. To find a boxed mix that requires more than the addition of water really impresses me. Usually it’s water or an egg and that’s it. Yeah, so here is where it takes a turn for the better. They wanted two tablespoons of melted butter. Okay, so there’s the fat, the action, the delivery system for flavor. But what if I doubled that or more, and used bacon fat?
Holy crap! The package came alive! The crust of the muffins were crunchy, yet juicy, corny inners. And you know what? The sugar level was at the bottom, way down low. Sure there was some flour in there to make it cakey, but the sugar wasn’t there. Only 5 grams for 6 muffins, I was impressed. Very impressed, I would serve this to anyone I know with confidence. I would serve this to Shuna at any one of my gatherings, without qualms. I will buy this packaged product again, it’s Meathenge Approved.
Love you guys,
xo, Biggles

Muffins vs. Cupcakes or an Attractive Woman?

Tiny E and I made some cupcakes yesterday. He was feeling a little blue about not being 12 or 13 like his brother and neighbor boy (read here: being left out and taunted). So, Super Papa jumped in and grabbed a box wherein you add the eggs, water and oil=cupcakes. We had a great time and I had the wits to remember the food coloring.

Let’s just say Tiny E found out what happens when you add all kinds of different colors together, Shrek Cupcakes.
Over the last 24 hours the discussion arose over the difference between cupcakes and muffins. The boys discussed this amongst themselves for quite some time. My immediate response was that cupcakes are usually of a very cakey substance with icing. Wherein a muffin is something more substantial and doesn’t have icing. All good.
As of tonight, after dinner, we really needed to resolve this issue. So I went straight to the World Book, nada. Next up, The New Oxford American Dictionary. I was pretty spot on with my definition. But what caught me was the second definition of cupcake, 2nd dfinition was an attractive woman. The howling only now is slowing to a crawl.
ps – Hey there cupcake, fries come with that shake?

Fresh Blackberry Jam – A Ralph’s Day Score!

See, once a week the boys get to spend the entire afternoon over at my Uncle’s. Why is this so great? Uncle Ralph’s is a place where there are no limits to canned soup, packaged noodles, candy, juice, soda, shopping, ice cream store visits and whatever else comes along. Uncle Ralph also happens to be living in our family stronghold, they moved in to this area in 1946. I grew up in that yard picking plums, oranges, pears, apples, cherries and whatever else we could find. Then we’d march off to the kitchen and Gramma would bake a few pies, preserve some fruit and make pickles rolled up in ham slices.
Time has come and gone, the garden has changed over the years and Gramm is doing such things in a loftier place these days. Even after all this time, with a lot of hard work from Ralph, the yard is producing some amazing goodies this year. One of which would be these fancy blackberries. I showed up to pick up the kidlets and he handed me 8 cups worth. Each one as sweet as the next. Time to make jam.
I’ve never made jam. And since Mama can’t have sugar, this task was even tougher. I don’t know the chemistry of such things, so I had to resort to reading a book, Joy of Cooking.
I washed the berries and put them in a non-reactive pot. Added 2 finely diced apples, cored and peeled. Apparently these berries don’t have much pectin, the stuff that will hold the jam together. Get warm and mooshy. All we had left was about a 1/2 cup of Splenda and off I went. Sorry about the Splenda, sugar isn’t an option. Diabetes ain’t nothing to screw with, not even once.
Here’s the killer, sugar will thicken the jam. Splenda will not. So, I had to just cook it until I thought it was ‘together’, whatever that meant. It probably took me most of an hour and I called it done.

I did not preserve the jam, it’s fresh and we’ll consume it quickly. Since the berries were perfectly sweet, the missed refined sugar really isn’t. I don’t know if the apples did anything, but who cares. The results are absolutely wonderful and I’m very happy with myself. Yipppeeee!

Meathead’s Corn Bread Odyssey takes root in Meathenge Labs

What a strange trip this has been. It all started innocently enough. Meathead (brother inlaw) has his way of making corn bread. NO COOKIE INGREDIENTS, is the guideline. No flour, no sugar. He wanted the bite and crunch of the corn meal, nothing in the way. His grandmother made it this way and unfortunately she never wrote it down. So Meathead has been winging it for years, tweaking this and changing that. I was lucky enough to get a piece a few months ago, heaven. I asked for the ‘recipe’ and he was kind enough to put something down. This last Sunday was time and off I went on the hunt for the perfect cornbread.

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A Savory Muffin Recipe: BLT Muffins

Last month Meathenge participated in the famous, Is My Blog Burning. IMBB is a themed cooking roundabout wherein people who have blogs cook to the theme and post it up, simple enough. Last month’s theme were Muffins or Cupcakes, muffins are so cool. Meathenge Labs put their heads together and wound up doing a Curry Chicken Muffin, came out very well I must say. But it wasn’t the only good looking recipe my wife found, one of the others was a BLT Muffin. I wasn’t able to pull off two muffins for the roundabout, so I did it this last Sunday. Read on, if you dare.

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Curried Chicken Muffins a la Mama

This is an odd photograph, to me. If we’d had more time, I would have spent some time with it and redone the sucker. But it’s been an odd week and reflects my mood completely.
This week marked the ending of Is My Blog Burning #13, cupcakes & muffins. Surely you sawr the entry for Curried Chicken muffins on Wednesday? They were terribly good, but left a lot of room for improvement. Even I was able to come up with some decent changes. Before I could make my move, Mama jumped in and whipped up a batch while I was at work yesterday (Thursday). Since I had the image I asked her to write up what she did and why. She did, and how. It’s a longin’ and a goodin’.
I enjoyed the changes, the muffin was more homogenous than my attempt. Plus it had a far nicer curry flavor to it. I have to say though, I did miss the chunks of onion. The first batch had far too many, but still it would be nice to have some caramelized yummies. Oh, and she was able to dry it up a bit. Less oil and less onion, you bet.
Go see what Mama was up to on Thursday, ith gooood.

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IMBB #13 – My Little Cupcake (or muffin)

Alright, I did it. After all this time I finally get to participate in a group blog cooking funtime. I did one, once, a long long time ago. It seems as though I’m always just missing them. Or just too darned busy, usually the latter.
This month, Is My Blog Burning #13 – My Little Cupcake (or muffin) hosted by I was just really very hungry.
I wanted to do something savory and asked my wife to search around for something neat lookin’. She found a handful of goodies and I had planned on doing two different kinds. Yeah well, I got to one of them. And this one would be Curried Chicken Muffins, from Alma in Australia. And they were goooood.

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Biggles BAKED !!!

Yup, Biggles baked. It was one of the most amazing afternoons, ever. I know, nearly all of you have done fine with your bad selves. That’s really great for you. But I’ve been an absent baker for years (I let everyone else do it). Luckily I married a woman who is a tremendous baker, this means I haven’t been suffering for my unaptitude. I had a half day to myself, sort of. And decided to give it a try.

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Meat Pie – what to do with leftover Arista Panzanese

Just when you thought it was safe to come out, just when you thought the Arista Panzanese was done and out the door. You couldn’t be more wrong. Last night there was a happy chunk of the special pork roast left over. Eric won’t eat leftovers, but here at MeatHenge Labs we have no problems with such things.
Mama said it was time for MEAT PIE !!! I was okay with that, especially since she is the Pie Crust Queen.

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