Five Items Currently Making Me Happy

Zergüt Veggie Spread

Back in 2003/2004, my friend Claire and I both worked for the same company. It was one of those massive installations that had a bunch of perks for employees, including various classes. We took a nutrition/”healthy cooking with no time or some bullshit” class together once. I only remember two things about the class: the instructor saying, “Pressure is not having a pressure cooker,” and tasting this spread (affiliate link). It immediately captivated my taste buds and my mind. And then I couldn’t find it again.

Fast forward more than a decade, and I’ve wandered into some Eastern European grocery store because it looks interesting and Total Wine can wait. And, damned if there wasn’t a shelf of innocuous jars of magic right there.… Continue reading →

Beer Vinegar

In the last place Bill and I lived, we were just around the corner from this wonderful little consignment shop that always had all kinds of interesting things for sale. I am genuinely amazed at the fact that, more often than not, I would go in there looking and manage to NOT buy something. It’s truly the kind of place that could drive one to spend a small fortune there on a regular basis.

However, what I was prone to buying there was anything both kitchen-y and “weird.” Which is how I ended up with this piece of ceramic on a wood stand.

A beige ceramic vinegar crock, with plastic spigot, on top of a wooden stand. Foreground is a small glass bowl with a tiny amount of a brown, hazy liquid - vinegar.

So, see, I’ve actually wanted to make my own vinegar for several years now. And, no, I don’t know why I’ve wanted to.… Continue reading →

About those bacon ends we bought

Welcome to the inaugural post in a new category here on MetaCookbook! I just decided this morning that we need a new “place” to talk about food without a recipe being involved. Specifically, I expect to occasionally have something to say about an ingredient I used (or want to) that has nothing to do with a recipe. The category description:

“Notes about ingredients we use. Normally it’ll be oddball things we discover through this blog, but we reserve the right to be opinionated about something mundane as well.”

Today, it’s an “oddball”. At least for me. Namely, bacon ends.

As I mentioned in the “Borracho Baked Beans”:http://metacookbook.com/archives/221-113-Borracho-Baked-Beans.html post, we purchased bacon ends to use as an ingredient in (originally) mac & cheese for the “beer and bacon” party.… Continue reading →

[72] Baked Potatoes

How to Cook Everything, Revised Edition by Mark Bittman

You guys, I have to be honest with you here. The first photo for this recipe was, apparently, taken at 10:42 pm CST on the day before Thanksgiving. That means I was tired and stressed out, but also desperately seeking yet another recipe to be executed.

You see, Thanksgiving was not the glut of recipes I expected it to be. Largely, this is because I had to keep the feasting down to a reasonable amount for four people. As you can imagine, this was hard to do. When I thought we might have between eight and ten, I was thinking maybe four or five pies and several sides and a monster turkey and so on. When it finally came to just four people, I had to 1) reign in my instincts quite a bit and 2) give myself permission to make things I’d been drooling over for days, even though they didn’t apply to the challenge.… Continue reading →

[42] B├ęchamel

How to Cook Everything, Revised Edition by Mark Bittman

I can’t lie, I only made this recipe because I wanted lasagne and Bittman’s lasagne recipe called for it. Admittedly, I was also pretty thrilled to knock out three recipes in one go.

This does smell pretty good while cooking, I have to say. Also practicing my roux skills is always nice, since keeping it lump free is a big pain.

h2. Ingredients

2 tbsp butter or extra-virgin olive oil (I used butter. No surprises here.)
2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 – 1.5 c milk

Salt and freshly ground pepper (Omitted.)

h2. Instructions

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium-low heat (if using oil, heat until hot). Once melted/hot, turn the heat to low and use a whisk to incorporate the flour into the fat.… Continue reading →