Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer Foods

The boy has been brewing again, and that means that the freezers (yes, plural) are full of spent grain. A few times, by the end of the brewing process, we were too tired to bag and freeze the grains, so we dumped the whole pile into the compost bin. Since we have a slow compost bin that is open, this was not the best idea because it was a critter free for all and I was sure that I was going to get hantavirus. On the bright side, the "compostable" plates we used for a party finally broke down thanks to the molds that the grains introduced to the bin. 

Last weekend, I wanted the grains out of our freezer pronto, so I posted on the Bay Area Homestead Hook-Up* on a lazy Sunday morning asking to swap our grain surplus for some eggs. I got loads of replies from people who live 10 miles away or less, so that was a bonus! Within two hours, I had space for my ice cream maker, a dozen of mixed chicken and duck eggs, and I got to see pictures of a frizzle chicken and duck who are co-parenting a batch of eggs.

One chicken egg yolk was immediately transformed into aioli. I used David Lebovitz's recipe, using my mortar and pestle to both crush the garlic with the salt and to whip up the aioli. It was a breeze! In the past, I've used my immersion blender to make mayo because I was convinced it was the only way I couldn't mess it up, but the clean-up and the power cord bugged me. That aioli didn't last long because although its intended destination was a flop (oven roasted potatoes akin to patatas bravas) due to my inexperience with the convention oven, we found plenty of other things to dip into the silky, garlicy sauce. I have another chicken egg resting on the counter destined to become aioli.

Two other eggs became one of my favorite breakfasts: ginger and tomato eggs. Since we have a surplus of yellow snow peas, I chopped some of those into the mix as well.

The key to good ginger and tomato eggs is to use plenty of oil and to blister the tomatoes and vegetables. That little bit of char from the breath of the wok (wok hay) is why I will never part with my wok. Ever. I've worked diligently to get a good seal on it, and now my wok can transform anything that enters it into some damn fine food.

After you char the sauté the tomatoes and peas with ginger, take them out, add more oil to the wok, and  pour in a few softly scrambled eggs. When the eggs are almost set, put the tomato mix back into the wok, turn off the heat, add some roasted sesame oil and salt, and gently mix everything together. It's my idea of a perfect meal anytime, but it is especially delicious with homegrown tomatoes.

Oh, I've also knit another carboy sweater. This time, it's more dapper with the stripes. My next carboy sweater will be crocheted. We have a few sour beers that sit around the house for up to a year, and I am tired of the looking at the cardboard boxes in which they are housed, so I need to sketch up something cool that I can stand to look at for that long.

All my little lovelies
Have I talked about my love affair with Hida Tool in Berkeley? They carry, among other goodies, Japanese knives and ceramic sharpening stones. I bought a 10-inch sword knife there, and it brings me great joy to sharpen it and my other knives. Until recently, I was outsourcing my knife sharpening, but since I only had one chef's knife, I was left in a lurch when it was gone. I solved that issue by two things: buying a longer, sharper chef's knife from Hida Tool and learning how to sharpen my own knife. When you buy a knife in person from Hida Tool, you get a free knife sharpening lesson in a their dimly-lit back room. At first, I was pretty nervous about sharpening a knife on my own, but my teacher was patient and reassuring. It helped my nerve to read on an online knife forum (there are forums for everything!) that anything I could do to screw it up I could undo later as my skills progressed. Plus, ceramic takes very little material off versus those scary mechanized sharpening wheels. Sure, it takes longer, but it is deeply satisfying. Plus, no one f*cks with you while you are sharpening a knife. You get instant respect. In addition to the ceramic block, I have a ceramic honer coming in from Edge Pro.

I also gave away most of my other knives that I rarely used and the accompanying knife block, and I have plans on replacing the cleaver and the bread knife. I'm ready to graduate to a real Chinese cleaver that I sharpen myself, and that bread knife is a mere 7-inches, so it's a little too short for my round loaves. Since I'm knife obsessed, I'm going to stop writing about them now because I can go on and on. The boy is genuinely terrified of my Japanese knife, and he refuses to use it. That's fine. All mine.

* You can subscribe to the BAHH by sending an email to bahh-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.


  1. I love that your carboys are getting a wardrobe! And your eggs look delicious.

    1. Thanks! I have ideas for even more carboy covers...

    2. Where do you get your crochet patterns??

    3. Hi Joni, I haven't made a crochet pattern for the carboy yet. I'll post when (if?) it's done. Thanks of your interest!

  2. The fact that you are referring to your knives as "my little lovelies" is just a tad scary...

    1. I love them more than Greaseball. (Just kidding, Greaseball.)

  3. Gosh darn-it. I'm supposed to be cleaning out my basement, but now I'm looking for a Minnesota version of that Homestead thingy you mentioned and it's 11 and I'm craving a cold IPA. What will this look like if my husband comes home with the kids and sees me with a beer no progress.

    (Found a site - it's called Eat Wild and you can search it by state)



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