Biggles’ very own Chicken Conspiracy of 2012

Editor’s Note:  All is well here, no complaints.  There really isn’t much going on worth mentioning in the cooking department, that’s the bottom line. That’s why no posts for such a long period of time. Love you, miss you!

The older I get, the simpler the roast chicken gets.  Wash, more than pan dry inside and out.  Kosher salt well, truss.  Install to 450 degree oven for 1 hour, pull and let rest for 10. The salt dries out the skin and turns it in to chicken skin candy of love, especially on the wings. Meat, even the breast meat, is tender and juicy with good solid chickenny flavors. I can do this.  Well, up until recently I could do it.

Yeah well, maybe 2 months ago I was running in to bloody thigh meat, regularly.  Even the breast meat from time to time would be under cooked. Wing joints, thigh joints, not even remotely done. After 6+ chickens roasted, I was nearing tears after removing the bird from the oven, wondering what to expect this time. I was convinced I had run across The Great Chicken Conspiracy of 2012 just as I had found The Great Potato Conspiracy of 2011.

The hell continued, 7 chickens roasted, 8, 9, 10 chickens roasted. It was a nightmare, I was nearly ready to throw in the towel. I chalked a few up to not being thoroughly defrosted, even after 2 days in the fridge. I stopped trussing the chicken, allowing more heat to penetrate the thigh crevices. I checked and replaced the batteries in my Thermapen. I gathered other odd thermometers to get a gaggle of readings. I pulled apart the oven to make sure the burner assembly was firmly in place and operating correctly. I routinely used a proper oven thermometer to make sure the oven came up to the correct temperature.  All checked good.  Still, no luck.

A beaten meat man, I admitted defeat. Not such a tough thing to do at the ripe old age of 47. Today, I’m firmly convinced I have no idea what’s going on, in and/or around me. I got no idea, I’m generally working off of reflexes these days. I did what any truly defeated man would do, I read the instructions.

Turns out, no matter what temperature the oven is, roasting time is based upon the weight of the bird. I know what you’re thinking, “Biggles, no f-ing shit !!! What a pathetic doof.” All true, but wait.  See, I’d been roasting birds for so long, basing my weights on birds of the past.  It used to be you could buy chickens that were 3.5 pounds, 4 pounds and big birds were 4.5 pounds. The 5+ pounders were stewing chickens, not tender little roasting chickens. Well, for the last however many years, you’re lucky to find any chicken that’s less than 5 pounds. If you reach in, find the smallest chicken in ye olde chicken patch, you’re most likely going to pull out a 5.5 pounder.  And this bird, my good people, will not roast in an hour, or at least this is my observation.

Of course, these weights will vary depending on where you are and where you shop for your chickens. But, what’s up with these older chickens? Buy any pieced out chickens lately? Breasts the size of your forearms, thighs the size of your feet! I simply cannot buy a 3.5 pound chicken any longer, not possible. And since I’m still unemployed, buying fancy chickens directly from ranchers ain’t possible, I have to rely upon the local cheap marts for food these days.

All is well in the roasting chicken department at Meathenge Labs.  It just takes longer now.

xo, Biggles

The Great Potato Conspiracy of 2011

At first I thought it was just me. But then after more than a few months and an observation, I’m convinced it’s a conspiracy. I have doubts about my personal abilities, surely.  But brother, or sister, if there’s one thing I can do is cook. And one of the dishes I do exceptionally well, is a good serving of creamy mashed potatoes.

Starting more than a few months ago, and even up until last night, I’ve been failing at cooking potatoes. What I mean by this is that both baking them and boiling them to mash isn’t working like it used to.  400 degrees for an hour on 1 medium potato is rendering me a mostly uncooked potato.  A large rapidly boiling pot of whole medium potatoes for 45 minutes is rendering me uncooked potatoes.  Sure, poke them with a fork and it glides in and out without resistance. But when it comes time to open the suckers up, when it comes time to mash them?  Hard as a rock.  So far, 9 out of 10 times is a tear jerking failure.

For the first dozen times, I thought that maybe I was just off my game. Maybe I set the the timer wrong, maybe the oven was off, maybe I’m just getting too old to boil a potato. I’ve even gone so far to try russets from different stores, ones in bags, tubers hand picked from the bin. Nothing rendered me success in the arena of baking or boiling potatoes.

It wasn’t until last night that I remembered a recent episode of Top Chef, can’t remember which one exactly.  A chef went home because her gratin wasn’t cooked.  She served raw potatoes. And at her level, this should never have happened.  Even if she had chosen to cook them on the day of and not the day before. Making a gratin is Cooking 101 for anyone. How could this be? I’m not the only one cooking and serving raw potatoes!

I am now solidly convinced that there is a potato conspiracy going on here in these United States. From large to small, from bulk to a la carte, we have a problem. It’s not going away, in fact it could be spreading across our great nation.  Is it international? I don’t know yet, but I can tell you for sure, I’m now doing research in this field. This needs to be unearthed, we need to locate the root of the problem and halt this Great Potato Conspiracy of 2011 at any and all costs!

xo, Biggles

Meathenge’s Smoked Crop Circle Chicken

Happy Monday!  We did up this whole chicken in the Charbroil Smoker Roaster Grill last night.  Came out absolutely stunning in 1 hour, crispy, smoky skin action included. Trussed and rubbed well with kosher salt is all one needs.  I got the nifty crop circles by cooking it upside down with the breast portion resting on the bottom of the meat holding basket. Way cool, eh?

xo, Biggles

Roasted Veggies? Egads !!!

I say, if you must eat your veggies, roast the suckers.  Or juice them, I like that too. But roasting them gives some enough flavors wherein I am able to choke them down.  Toss with good oil, s&p, favorite herbies, 425 degrees in a large roasting pan with lowish sides until done, about 30 to 40 minutes.  EAT.

xo, Biggles

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

Meathenge Salad

MeathengeSalad.jpg
Not sure what came over me, but I made a salad. Not even bacon in this sucker, no ma’am. This right here is a bowl completely filled with perfectly diced green things, red things, shaved an orange root action with some carefully rinsed garbonzos. Severe craziness, I faced my fears, I own these vegetables souls.
For the last 2 Sundays I’ve hosted dinner parties for one reason or another. Tiny E’s birthday was by far the best of the two versus Easter. What this typically means is I supply, cook and serve the meat. If you’re interested in anything else? It’s up to you to bring it. Oh sure, I have napkins and utensils. But it’s up to you to bring the beverages, dinner rolls, appetizers, BBQ beans, salads, whatever else you’d normally expect to already be there. I’m all about the meat.
Today, Mother’s Day, was being hosted by my dear sister and her husband Meathead. All well and good, but last week I got an email stating they were going to supply, cook and serve the meat. What the hell am I supposed to bring then?
salad
I had to meditate on this salad stuff. What did it mean to me? Should I get a recipe for “salad”? That seemed kinda silly. Sure, I could have made it more difficult than it needed to be, but I’m not wired that way. Keep the salad simple, baby steps here pally boy.
This morning found Biggles in the vegetable section, mildly freaking out. I’d been able to keep myself in check during the week, but it was go time. Sure I’d purchased veggies for garnish, adding to soups & stews, pot roast and crock-pot meals. But this was different. This salad thing had to be good on its own, it needed to be edible.
BurgerSlurpee.jpg
I quickly pulled myself together and started with greens, then moved along quietly. And by quietly I mean, complete and utter stealth mode. I have a reputation to uphold here! I can’t be seen buying such things without a large hunk of meat to simmer along with.
I did it, pulled it together and came out on top. I made a salad and it was good.
And speaking of good, as I turned around with my salad knife in hand, caught my sister with a burger slurpee. MMmmmMMmm, burger slurpee.
xo, Biggles

Sumo Grub – Berkeley California

Sumo001.jpg
Last week Chilebrown of Madmeat Genius offered up a new place in Berkeley for some tempura fare, he mentioned Tempura Cheese Pizza. Yup, it’s like that.
He and Ms. Goofy (his wife) stopped by at noon on Saturday to haul my lazy ass out of the house and on a food adventure. I figured downtown Berkeley, noon, on a Saturday would be something of a snarl for traffic & parking. Traffic caused us to hit the back streets, but parking was right around the corner. We entered!
Sumo Grub is nice, clean, cute and had a handful of tables for in-house dining. The menu to the left was done on a chalk board, it was laid out well, very legible. Under burgers they have their 1/4 lb Angus beef and something called, “Vegan Meat”, I thought that was very cool. The woman running the front was exceptionally kind, helpful and cheery. The best part though? Is that they have a backyard for outside seating! It was awesome! Loved it.
The prices are exceptionally affordable, probably due to the location directly across the street from Berkeley High. So, ordering a bunch of goodies is of no concern for those of us that haven’t attended such a school for 30+ years. I ordered a cheese burger with onion rings, tempura mac & cheese and bottled water.
Sumo003.jpg
I really liked the onion rings, but the burger fell short. The poor beef patty was cooked beyond its life expectancy. But after meeting the owner and chef, I’m sure he’s working out the kinks and won’t hold that against him. I was the one that ordered a burger in an Asianny restaurant. Other than that, the bun was absolutely stellar along with the lettuce, and the green fleckled sauce stuff.
Sumo007.jpg
Here’s a shot of Chilebrown’s Chicken, Apple Sausage Tempura.
Sumo006.jpg
Here’s the Tempura Mac & Cheese. I’m a hard core mac and cheese guy, if it ain’t a home made southern mac & cheese, I’m not interested. I should be reviewing on its own merit, but I can’t.
When we were nearly done with our lunch, Chilebrown got up and ordered us a Tempura Heart Attack for dessert, it serves 3? This would be Tempura Oreos, Twinkies and ice cream.
Sumo004.jpg
I really liked the Oreos and the ice cream, the Twinkies were good. The owner really knows how to Tempura anything. This was the piece of resistance, what really tied it all together. The bread crumbs varied from item to item.
To sum it all up, Sumo Grub really shines in a few areas and I will go back to try some more dishes that compliment his skills.
Sumo Grub
2235 Milvia Street, at Kittridge
Open Monday through Saturday from 11am until “The freaks come out”
Closed on Sunday
xo, Biggles

Just for fun, on a Thursday evening, smoked pork ribs.

SRG003.jpg
Biggles having some fun today, is all.
Blind Melon – No Rain
Ooooo-oo-oo-oo-oo, oo-oo-oo-oo
All I can say is that my life is pretty plain
I like watching the puddles gather rain
And all I can do is just pour some tea for two
And speak my point of view
But it’s not sane, it’s not sane
I just want someone to say to me no, oh, oh, oh
I’ll always be there when you wake, yea-ah
You know I’d like to keep my cheeks dry today
So stay with me and I’ll have it made
And I don’t understand why I sleep all day
And I start to complain that there’s no rain
And all I can do is read a book to stay awake
And it rips my life away, but it’s a great escape
Escape……escape……escape……
All I can say is that my life is pretty plain
You don’t like my point of view
You think that I’m insane
It’s not sane, It’s not sane
I just want someone to say to me no, oh, oh, oh
I’ll always be there when you wake, yea-ah
You know I’d like to keep my cheeks dry today
So stay with me and I’ll have it made
And I’ll have it made
And I’ll have it made, oh
Lord no no
You know I’m really gonna, really gonna have it made
You know I’ll have it made
Ahhh, ahhh, ahhh, ahhh
What fun! Love you all, Biggles signing off.
xo

wordless tuesday

AppleWoodBurgers.jpg
Yeah, like I’m not supposed to use words, nor am I supposed to post it on a Tuesday. Ah well. Applewood smoked/grilled beef burgers with a slice of Tillamook Cheddar on the top to melt.
xo, Biggles

City Wide Garage Sale – El Cerrito, CA

GarageSale.jpg
Z and I awoke this morning, I was the early bird at 6am. Our plans for later in the morning were to head out to the mall to find a jacket that fit the boy proper like. We both understood we had to get this done, but also knew there was a city wide garage sale going on a few miles to the south of us.
Sheet fire! GARAGE SALE HO !!!!
Sure the addresses were published, but we only decided to go that minute. Just drive around, up and down. We found a nice group of older folks living in a home selling grilled dogs, popcorn and drinks for a buck fifty. A block down and around, some young hipster selling off a 78 record player console and a 60 year old camera that looked clean. But some other hipster grabbed it, was totally in to it. I wondered if they knew it didn’t have a lightmeter.
Just down the road we landed on Richmond street, a pretty good little thoroughfare. A hot chick and her dude had a dufflebag of VHS pr0n including a gas mask. I told her point blank that my brother inlaw would be interested in this, right here. She said, “Whatever floats your boat.” Then giggled, flushed and got in to someone else’s business.
Z and I headed out and around the corner, got in touch with my sister and let her know the scoop. Brother inlaw called me back and asked for an accurate locale. Within a few minutes, this poor hotchick was approached by my sister and husband asking if a tall, Norwegian looking, red headed and bearded axe murderer looking guy was here checking out her pr0n and gas mask. “Uh, yeah. It’s over there.” Keep in mind, brother inlaw is bigger than me. It was all a pretty fun encounter and will probably be told a few times over the next day or two.
A good time was had by all and I ended up at the end of the day with a gas mask (found on top of a Russ Meyer movie), a 60 year old flashlight, an abused chopping block along with a few LP’s (Barry White) for about 6 dollars. OH yeah, and we totally scored a dozen doughnut holes from another hotchick that was selling a few macrobiotic cookbooks and trucker hats made from hemp.
Garage sales rule.
xo, Biggles

File: Bacon and egg sandwish – open face

Screen shot 2010-05-12 at 4.42.06 PM.png
Anyone that has read Meathenge for any length of time knows that I love photography or digital capture and food. This has been the case for more than 35 years, a little more. Out of passion and the plea from my friends & family I set up my blog (actually my sister did) so they’d stop getting routine emails from me showing them what I was eating and they were not. This was back in ’03, a young blogger was born. It was tough for me to not give people a hard time about their images, I bit my tongue. More often than not though I ended up sticking my comments where they didn’t belong. Such is life and I learned my lesson, learned the zen of enjoying people for who they were and what they presented. It’s actually pretty peaceful to watch bloggers grow in both craft and voice, I love it.
Earlier today Jlee sent me this Wikipedia entry and I’ve been getting madder and madder as the minutes roll by. It offends me on every level that I hold sacred, food, photography and respect for the internet. What pushed me over the edge was the fact that the author of this post on WikiP actually published what he did to achieve such a wonderful shot. At this point picture me kicking tin cans around the yard hurling obscenities to the universe.
At first, it was the art, the photography that made my bowels erupt. Bite my tongue, but the blast of light from one direction and the fact the author went out of his way to edit out the shadows? Okay, let’s remove any depth or perception. The lone strawberry with red smudges on the plate? This lead me to the store bought sliced bread with uneven toasting and bacon that’s clearly been seared to near black death. My eye then went to the “tablecloth”? Why not just toss your wet dream stained bed sheets for luster, would have been more interesting. Not to me of course, but some people pay a lot of money for such things. Where’s the mayo? Where’s the black pepper and crystals of salt to glisten? Hot sauce? How the hell is one fricken little ‘berry going to add nutrition, happy breakfast or for crissakes Chi !!! GAHHHH !!!
Okay, so sure the fact the author published his editations pushed me further, but why you’re seeing this here to day is the fact he published this hideous monster on Wikipedia. That sealed the deal, he stepped over the line. This instantly went from a friendly food blogger type of situation to a worldwide encyclopedia entry that states this as truth and love both in the culinary arts and digital capture.
Don’t give me, “But the yolk is the perfect color and runny looking”. You know damned well this “human” needs to be drawn and quartered. Oh sure, I can hear your response, “Alright smart guy, if you think you can do better, go ahead.” Charley Manson could do better, don’t mess with Manson pal. In the last 7 years I’ve never, ever seen a food blogger do this poorly. We rule, you suck and I’m here to testify that I can totally kick your ass. Get this shit off the Wiki and leave us alone, hate doesn’t even remotely describe the feelings I’m having at this moment.
Yours truly,
The Good Reverend Doctor Biggles

A Mystical Appearance – Tilapia

Tilapia.jpg
Alright picture this, it’s Saturday and it’s nice outside. No place to be, no responsibilities. Perfect for watching TV and taking naps, agreed? Agreed. Later in the afternoon I had a few cool, refreshing beverages and fell asleep watching a movie on my computer, in my bedroom.
A while later I heard someone at the front door knocking, gave it no mind and went back to sleep. Not only did I not care, was too snuggly and happy, didn’t want anyone ruining my trip.
Cut to Sunday morning to find 3 pounds of Tilapia fish, fat ones too, in my fridge. Along with a good sized bottle of good hot sauce on the dishwasher. I may have had a few drinks, but in no damned way did I go shopping for fish and hot sauce!
Nope, Creepy E had gone shopping, he mentioned something about getting me some on his next trip. But I never expected him to come in through the unlocked front door and install the goodies in my fridge while I was napping! But that’s exactly what he did, thank you! Score.
xo, Biggles

M.A.S.H. 4077th – What was Hawkeye, Trapper John & Ferret Face’s abode’s name?

Fogginess.jpg
You’re correct! “The Swamp” is the answer and the name of their tent where they spent a few seasons before Winchester showed up. In any case, they lived in a tent named The Swamp and I live IN a swamp.
I’m still dealing with high-moisture content in my home and a pretty nasty mold situation. I’ve got about 90% of it taken care of. I removed the last remaining carpet in the house, it was in the boy’s room. 10 years of little boy use and it was more than time. It wasn’t good and spent more than a week scrubbing furniture and applying an anti-mold growth formula my boss came up with. I bought another dehumidifier (this makes 2 now) and a hygrometer to give me an idea as to what room needs dire attention at what time. It’s been a nightmare to say the least and Tiny E is still suffering.
My only solace has been permitting weather to allow me to grill dinner every night for the last 3 days. The smell of the wood, the hickory, to enjoy the flavors of simple, grilled food. It’s all I have at the moment and I simply do not have any time or inspiration for Meathenge at the moment. Know what I mean, Vern? Yeah, it’s like that.
GrillNow.jpg
Hoist a cool one for us, fry some bacon with love. We’ll be back in and online here pretty soon.
xo, Biggles