Engineering and Cooking. Part 2

I had some higher priority projects require my attention, so it wasn’t until last night that I tried using a dutch oven as a panini press.

It works.  I had to fill the dutch oven with about 3 quarts (3 liters) of water to get both sandwiches compressed.   If you cook only one at a time, less water would be needed for “squash duty”.

My wife liked it.

What I did:  I put four slices of my homemade sourdough bread on the counter and lightly brushed the top side of each slice with olive oil.  I flipped the bread over and spread a thick coat of thousand island salad dressing on each slice of bread.  Then on each slice of bread, I added, in order, a thin slice of Swiss cheese, a couple of thin slices of turkey, a piece of cooked bacon that had been broken in half and a leaf of spinach.  I then put  the bread slices together to make two sandwiches.

To cook them, I put the sandwiches into a skillet that had been heating over medium heat and placed the dutch oven on top of the sandwiches.   I cooked each side for about 5 minutes.




Engineering and Cooking

Tomorrow, I’m going to find out if a skillet and a dutch oven can be combined to make a panini press.   I’m going to try cooking the panini in the skillet while using the dutch oven, maybe with some water in it, to replace the press.

Unless I find something more interesting, the recipe will use some of my home made sourdough bread, thousand island salad dressing, thin sliced turkey and swiss cheese.

Baking Bread and Meeting People

My wife reminded me of the this bread baking adventure.

We were camping on a 3 day weekend in a public campground and each afternoon I baked some bread in the dutch oven.

For what it’s worth, baking bread while camping is more fun than baking in a kitchen.

In a kitchen, one just lets the dough rise on its own because watching dough rise…is not very exciting.  Baking bread in a dutch oven while camping offers the excitement of watching squirrels.  While the covered dough is rising and I am far from the dutch oven, three or  four squirrels will wait nearby while one tries to figure out how to get inside “that thing”.  After the first one gives up, the others will come and give it a try.  So far, none have been able to move the heavy lid.

The smell of baking bread also attracts humans.

Each day, while the bread was baking, a lot of people would come over to check out the baking bread smell and, being the good host, I always made enough to be able to offer some to the guests.

At the neighboring campsite was a young man and he noticed that most of the people stopping by were young women.

On the last day, he came over to ask where he could find a dutch oven with legs and to see if he could watch me make some bread.

It turns out he was a 4th year mechanical engineering student.  The old electrical engineer got to pass along some practical knowledge to the young mechanical engineer…and my wife (a nuclear engineer)…she laughed…






The almost non-post.

I was going to make a post about the aebleskiver pan.  It sort of morphed into a memories post, then into this dutch oven post.

The dutch oven was given to me by my fiancee a few minutes before we went to see her oncologist for the last time.  She had bought it several months earlier for something like $5 from a “junque store” as a gift to the two of us for our honeymoon.  Ever mindful of expenses, our honeymoon was going to be a week long camp out on the beach and she wanted us to have something more than just skillets for cooking.

Fast forward almost 30 years.

When I was cleaning the garage, my wife and daughter found the dutch oven in an old box and asked about it.  I told them its story and my wife responded by saying it would be terrible to not use it (proving once again, I married well).  She then took it inside.

And after a lifetime of it sitting in a box, I cleaned it up, seasoned it and started using it.  It now gets used almost every day.   “It” being a Griswold #7 Tite Top Dutch Oven.

Changed experiment–success

Just like every other day, I was talking with my 96 year old mom and and I was telling her about my roast plans.  She suggested leaving the lid off of the dutch oven and increasing the oven temperature to 250 degrees.

So, I did.

It took about 3-1/2 hours for the rump roast to reach the 130F degrees internal temperature. It was quite tender but without the pot roast texture and we loved the taste.  The best way to describe the tenderness and texture would be ‘like a medium rare T-Bone steak from the grill’.

I took the juice in the bottom of the dutch oven and made a quick gravy.

So, with mom’s help, the 1980 experiment has finally succeeded.

Vacation, Thanksgiving preparation and an experiment.

I took a few days off from work, today, tomorrow and of course Thanksgiving day and the day after that, plus the weekend.

The Thanksgiving food pre preparations are complete. All that’s left is to tidy up the house a bit (tidy may be a bit of understatement) and I’m done until it’s time to cook.

In the mean time we still have to eat, and I don’t have it in my heart to do any poultry dish, so I’m going to revisit an old experiment that was started 35 years ago–a pot roast that is tender and doesn’t taste, to me, scorched and diluted.  It has always been a variation of a theme–different braising liquids and different spices in the liquid.  This time I’m trying something totally different. Since yesterday morning I’ve been marinating a pot roast in soy sauce, sugar, some lime juice and several cloves of garlic.  Later today I’ll put some of the marinate in the bottom of a dutch oven, put an ill fitting (only fits down halfway) trivet in there so when I put the roast in it, the roast will remain out of the liquid, put the lid on the dutch oven and put the whole thing into a 200F degree oven for however long it takes to cook.  The idea for the marinate in the bottom is to get the environment in the dutch oven moist before the meat gets hot enough to cook.

I have hamburger and hamburger buns available in case things don’t work out.

Breakfast was red potatoes sliced paper thin, dusted with some garlic powder and cooked with chorizo, eggs and onion.