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

A Dutch Oven Gathering and Girl Bacon

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Dutch Oven Gatherings or D.O.G.’s are nothing new, only to me and the rest of us city dwellers. Chilebrown of Mad Meat Genius directly introduced me to the art a few years ago. Basically, you cook your food in a cast iron dutch oven that has feet and a special lid that will accept charcoal briquettes. This way, no matter where you are or where you go, you can have a world-class meal. Cool, eh?
But what happens when your skill set is no longer tested, your mettle isn’t put to the trial? That’s right, you begin down the road of Competition. And that’s just what CB, Abram & Larry (not included in this set) have done, they’ve trundled off to the big time of Dutch Oven Competitions. This is no small feat, you’re competing against people who could very well have done this their entire life! And a hundred or more competitors? It’s a vast sea of flurry for sure.
But you know what? Even after only a few good, heavy competitions these guys, The Meat Men are taking 2nd place. I’m impressed, a lot.
A few weeks ago CB emailed me and had been conversing with Abram, they agreed that I should host a Dutch Oven Gathering Practice Competition at Meathenge Labs. My first reaction was, well … YEAH !!!
Last Saturday was the day and I invited a few local bloggers to attend. I figured The Meat Men could do their thing, we could fire up my smoker, grill and quaff a few Cold Ones and have our own sit-down fest.
It was better than expected, everyone showed up when they said. The attending Meat Men got to work and I worked my station at the smoker. All were fed huge amounts of everything, joined by smiles and cold refreshing beverages.
CB cooked off his yeasted bread, Abram made a stellar Hawaiian Pork Rib dinner and I served up smoked chicken, bacon and a tri-tip. Pam of Zoomie Station provided homemade apple turnovers along with lamb burger sliders. Cookiecrumb of I’m Mad and I eat, Cranky of Pluto Demoted provided fresh oranges, tater salad and some other things I cannot remember. Mostly because it was 4 days ago and too many wonderful beverages in between. Tee hee.
After all was said and done not only did we really enjoy ourselves, but The Meat Men made their food under their time limit of 3 hours. Not bad, eh?
If you’re interested to see the rest of the story, go here and survey!
xo, Biggles
ps – Toponia of Fatted Calf gifted me the idea of using the term, Girl Bacon. Why? Because CB’s slab bacon had teats!

Enameled Cast Iron goes POP !!!

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If I had to take 1 piece to cook with out of my kitchen, it’d probably be this one. Soups, stews, burgers, roast chicken, gumbo, beans, for pasta, bacon and even have done pancakes in it. Deep fry, shallow fry or pan fry, it’s good to go. Simmer some greens? Steam some veggies if you prefer, it can do it.
If you enjoy cooking and have been at it just a little while, you have one. If not, you know you want one and will have it some day. They’re that good. I was lucky, I found this one at a local thrift store for 10 dollars about 16 years ago. I figure it’s about 40 + years old, Descoware (Danish) it says on the bottom. I loves it.
The same day I bought this one, I bought a smaller one, it had chips knocked out of the finish on the inside. Who cares, it was 7 dollars! At the time, I would wash and put the pot on the stove to warm over a flame to dry it off. I noticed that if it got too hot, the enamel would pop off like popping corns. Pop! Okay, so don’t do that. Don’t dry these old things over heat, not a good thing. But time passes and we forget such wisdom.
Until 2 days ago. Had planned on making some onions translucent and warmed some oil in the bottom of the pan. I saw something shiny in the other room and forgot about it for a few minutes, not long. But enough time for the oil to over-heat and cause a chip to fly free from the bottom of the pan.
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Jackass.

Click on and check out the picture, it’s really cool how the cracking and crazing has formed over the years. Especially where the chip came off, check that out! Spiffnoid, eh?
Made me sad, but it’s not the end of the world. The ol’ Danish Oven will function pretty much as it did. Just no storing food in it like I did before. Be wary of highly acidic food, probably not a good idea. But this piece will live on for another however many years. Or until I chip a tooth on an unseen bit of enamel.
Cheers!

Clay Pot Cooking, not a crock, yo. word. Shaddap Biggles.

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The flavors are still on my tongue. Am attempting to bring you some word, some phrase or metaphor that can describe what the last 12 some odd hours were like. Please click on the image and just sit with that for a moment while I collect my thoughts.
Over the past month I’ve been monkeying around with this clay chicken cooker thing. The last dish I made was exceptionally proud of, for several reasons. Not only was it a winner in the chicken & rice casserole flavor department, but it cost just under 5 bux total. This is the dish where I learned that an entire, diced onion is too much. How did I find out? Ask the boys as they dove out the car’s windows the following morning, heh. I still got it.
All along, been wanting to do a pork roast of any kind in the thing, duh. Sunday afternoon found me at Joya de Ceren, visiting Omar and seeing what tasty treats I could find in his meat cooler. Pork shoulder baby! 3.5 pounds of a really great looking hunk of meat. I grabbed the ingredients I thought I needed and expected to have that sucker in the oven within an hour or so.
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That didn’t happen. Too much relaxing and one too many naps, the day was gone. There’s always Monday!
Man, I got home Monday and was in no mood. I could tell where this was going, the days would slide and so would the pork. Nope, I had to make it work and it had to be now. All the ideas of making my own Mexicanny dry rub went right out the window. It was just after 4pm and had only just jacked the oven to 300, I had to move.
Wash, dry meat and let the chill come off. Rub with extra virgin and grab Scott’s Survival Spice. This ain’t just some old premade nothin’ blend. Scott put a lot of time and effort in to this rub and it shows. If I don’t have any of mine laying around, or no time to make one, this is the one to grab. And brother, or sister, I’m glad I did.
Sliced a white onion in to rings and laid on the bottom of the roaster. And maybe 8 cloves of garlic, whacked once with a knife, peeled. One thing I’ve noticed about cooking in the clay oven, I’m far more thoughtful about moisture. That is to say, what you put in there, even an onion, will add moisture that doesn’t escape, much. So, just the little amount of onion, garlic and the moisture in the meat was enough to cook this thing for 9 hours.
Here it is in a nutshell, onion, garlic, dry drubbed meat, 300 for 4 hours, down to 250 for 5 hours. Pull, let rest for an hour or so and refrigerate. Total cost is about 8 to 9 dollars, not counting 9 hours of natural gas pouring in to my range. I know I may be going out on a limb here, but I’m putting the flavors, texture, juice factor and pully apartyness at the very top. I would say this roast could very well be the best pork shoulder I’ve ever received from my oven.
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I have spoken.

ps – I didn’t soak my cooker because the inside upper and lower lid are glazed. Not sure soaking it with water would have done anything positive.

Where’s your root cellar and do you have stinky garlic fangers? Meathenge Lab’s Helpful Hints


Chapter 1
Not everyone has some fancy root cellar that keeps our tubers and garlic fresh for the future. Some of us are relegated to use whatever we have handy. This could be, the floor. A bin in a pantry, under some stairs or wherever we have room. Up until semi-recently, I was among you. Today? Times have changed.
Chapter 2
How many times have you gone to bed with garlic hands? Every few hours you’re all woked up by the pungeant smell of garlic on yer hands. Need solice?
Venture within to have a little project and hint time with Biggles.

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Products & Technology: Woodflame’s Wood Burning, Portable BBQ

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I heard rumors about this grill a while back and ever since it’s been rattlin’ in the back of mind. It wasn’t until the other day when CB sent me the link to Woodflame’s web site that I said, “THAT’S IT !!!”
Why am I so excited about a portable grill that I don’t own and have never seen or used? It’s because it uses wood and not propane. Oh, I know what you’re thinking. Weber and the likes have been making portable charcoal fired grills for more than a million years. So why is this different from your humble Smokey Joe?
It’s got this little “stove” that jets air UP through a few small chunks of hardwood and cooks your food this way.
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You can cook an entire meal with just a few small hunks and get this (listen up propane lovers), you’re ready start grilling in just 2 minutes. I’m not sure, but I’ll bet a propane grill ain’t even ready to cook that fast. The owners manual says the Delecto model has 9 fan settings, so you can go from just a little fire (designed for smoking) up to a flame that’ll deliver you over 60k btu’s, that’s a lot by the way. It’s enough to deep fry and boil water and apparently this little rig does just that. So, not only do you get a wood burning grill & smoker, but you also get a very powerful portable stove.
That all sounds so good, what could possibly be the downside to this little rig? Well, you’re tied to electricity. The Delecto uses 4 D cell batteries and you can get an AC adapter for it. But after thinking about it for a few days I don’t think that’s a deal breaker. Modern electric motor technology has come a long way and I’ll bet you get some decent life out of those batteries. And besides, what would you rather lug around? 4 extra batteries or one of those steel propane tanks? I’d vote for the batteries and real smoke flavors.
Why don’t I buy one cause my grill is nearly ready to fall over and die? Why did I not hit BUY NOW the other day? It isn’t large enough for my needs. I need a grill about 3 to 5 times that size for my yearly needs. So, my search continues. But yours doesn’t have to. If I didn’t need such a large grill, I’d buy this in a second. Woodflame looks to be a small company attempting to make it out in the big scary world. I say Kudos to the geniuses that brought us this little grill. Thank you so much for not making another damned propane grill.
Biggles
ps – Please visit their web site for a far better description, user manuals and dealer locations.
Woodflame
6155 Des Grandes-Prairies Blvd.
Montreal (Québec), Canada
H1P 1A5
Telephone : 514 328-2929
Tol free: 1 888 664-6966
Fax : (514) 328-0029

Uh, dude, that’s a vegetable cleaver. An arts & crafts project.


We find our plucky Biggles hard at work, doing what he does to pay the bills. When Creepy E walks in and tosses this down on his desk. A Yan Can Cook vegetable cleaver with a nasty notch taken out of it. He laughs and says that I can have it, it’s mine. I’m turning this thing over and over thinking, “What the hell?”
It turns out, he thinks he was cutting meat with it and got to the bone and I finished the sentance with, “and you wrenched it to the side to unembed it from the bone, didn’t you?” PING !!!

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New Pot Meal


I wanted to take a moment and say Thank you to Jim over at Mercuri Litho for gifting me his unused 5 quart cast iron dutch oven with a nice glass lid. I gleefully accepted and ran to my butcher for a fresh chicken. Later that afternoon I had time to scrub it clean (semi cured oil of unknown age was in it), dry it, cure it and roast a chicken in it!! An upside down chicken roasting method was used.

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Knife Alert !

If you’ve been looking for a decent sized chef’s knife, 10.25" blade, then
look no longer. I was perusing ebay and found this rig for sale. It has a buy it now at about 50 bux. This knife was made pre-1987 and does NOT used recycled steel as with today’s knives. Go see now!

Not a trivial matter


Here’s a shot of that fancy trivet I keep mentioning. I’ve had a handful of messages from people asking about it. What is it? Where do I find it? Well, here it is and I bought mine from www.lodgemfg.com for a few dollars. But any wire rack will do, our local Ace Hardware has little round trivets for a few dollars that will last a life time.