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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Spain's Best Food Blog/Blogger


El Cocinero Fiel has taught me so much about the food here and about cooking in general. His Youtube videos cover almost anything you would want to cook.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A New Kitchen Addition

 
Sometimes kitchen gadgets don’t really live up to the hype. In fact, I’d say that most of the time the new stuff is just gimmicky crap and soon is relegated to the outer reaches of kitchen storage (Do you hear that, pasta maker?). This isn’t true about my new tortilla press and I've made a permanent place for it in my kitchen, which is a very good thing because it’s cast iron and too damn heavy to move. I received it as a gift and it'll go down as one of the best presents I’ve ever received.

Having great corn tortillas now couldn’t be easier (unless I could actually buy them at a decent price). The tortillas that I can buy in packages don’t even taste like corn and seem to be mostly wheat flour and chemicals. The ones that I make with my new press are pure corn flour with a bit of salt and maybe some good, old-fashioned lard along with the water. You just have to mix the flour with the water and there's no long kneading process like when making bread. Then you make a small ball of dough and put it in the press between two sheets of plastic. I fry them in a few drops of oil and that’s it.

I've been tinkering with my dough recipe using a small percentage of wheat flour to make the tortillas more pliable but every one that I've made thus far has been wonderful and infinitely better than the store-bought trash I’ve been used to for too long. I have officially broken my dependence on foreign-born tortillas.

In an unrelated matter I made my variant on the Catalan dish Pa amb Tomàquet.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Valencia Marathon: 11,500 Runners and 20,000 Fans




Had I known that it was so much fun to watch a marathon I would have done it sooner. There were thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people along the route to cheer, clap, whistle, beat drums, play pasodobles, and I was among them. I think we had a lot more fun than the runners. I was a spectator by accident as I chose a bike route that cut me off from my part of town when I returned and crossing even a couple meters or the runner’s course was impossible, at least with a bike and while not being an asshole.

Running a marathon has never been anything that I have been even remotely interested in doing, even back when I used to run. As far as bucket lists go a marathon is still out of my bucket. Watching the Valencia Marathon again certainly will be in my future. Enhorabuena to all the participants and fans.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Mysteries of Science



After a few weeks of intense scientific investigation I’ve determined conclusively that buying a bathroom scale, in and of itself, does not lead to weight loss. In what may or may not be a related matter, and this is just a guess, I'd say that the model on the box had about 6% body fat, tops.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Top Home Ramen



I go to fair lengths to satisfy my food cravings. After a friend shared a video on Japanese ramen I couldn’t get this dish out of my head. My lust for ramen completely destroyed the taste of the dish that I was making at the time (I can’t even remember what it was).

There may be a place in Valencia for ramen but I don’t know of one. Forget about Thai food unless you want it prepared by Chinese cooks as the Chinese here are sort of the “one size fits all” for Asians. I’ve met a few Japanese immigrants here and I’m actually friends with one and he doesn’t recommend ramen except what he makes himself. When I get a craving for noodle soup I make it chez moi.

One of the advantages of never having traveled to the East is I really can’t judge one bowl of ramen from another. How hard could it be to make at home? It’s soup. I plowed through a couple dozen videos on YouTube so I’m something of an expert at ramen, at least here in Spain. The first step is the broth. 


I didn’t really mean to make two kinds of broth but my pressure cooker isn’t sufficiently huge to handle the quantity of broth I was planning to make. In my pressure cooker I used a few beef bones and some scraps of a chicken I cut up. I threw in the back, the breastbone, and the wing tips of the chicken and any extra fat I could trim. Along with the meat and bones I added some vegetables: carrots, onion, garlic, parsnips, and a beet. Salt, pepper, and bay were the only seasoning I used in this portion which I cooked for 35 minutes at pressure.

In a bigger pot I diced up a mirepoix and added about a kilo pork shoulder cut into bite-sized cubes manageable with chop sticks. I added just a bit of soy sauce to the meat before I browned it with the already cooked vegetables. To this I added 1.70 liters of boiling water from the kettle and let it all simmer. When the steam had reduced on the pressure cooker I strained the liquid and added this to the other pot of broth.

In my first batch of soup I used rice noodles which I didn’t like with this broth. I changed to flour noodles. 

I soft-boiled some eggs (four minutes boiling then dump in an ice bath) which I marinated in soy sauce and vinegar (all I had and all I could think of). Along with the boiled egg I dressed the soup with sriracha and red chili pepper in soy oil.

As you imagine it was a hell of a lot of work. I sure miss getting a bowl of noodle soup of some national variety in Seattle for a few bucks but my broth is worlds above the usual thin gruel of cheap pho shops. My soup was so rich you could almost stand a spoon up in it. Overall my homemade ramen is as satisfying as anything I’ve ever had in a restaurant. Making it at home is certainly inexpensive as my huge pot of broth probably cost less than 20€.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

More Thoughts on Parenting from the Childless



Every morning across the street from me a really fancy bus picks up a group of kids for some private school somewhere and every morning the parents accompany them for the wait. When they board the bus you would think from all of the emotional farewells that the kids were being sent off for a modern-day Children’s Crusade or they are making Sophie's choice.  I remember that on my first day of kindergarten I wouldn’t allow my mother to walk the three blocks with me. “I got this, mom,” I told her, or something to that effect, and I walked sans chaperon to school with my best friend who would also be my classmate.