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.

 

 

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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.

Not Much Happening

Since I’ve been retired, I’ve been slowly (no sense hurrying this) cleaning up the house.  I’m about 3/4 done with a *VERY* thorough cleaning.   Most of the problem is dust.  I’ll get the dust cleaned up in an area and, two days later, it needs to be dusted again.  I’m hoping it’s a case of cleaning new areas of the house is stirring up the dust and allowing it to settle on the already cleaned areas….but I doubt I’ll be so lucky.


Over the summer, I cooked a turkey and I froze the bones.  This week I simmered the bones to make more turkey broth and I just finished pressure canning it.  I have 14  twelve ounce jars cooling on the kitchen counter.  So far 12 of the 14 lids have “plinked”.  I’m hoping the other 2 will soon do the same.

For what it’s worth, I think I fixed my problem of liquid leaving the jars as I process them…I think I had the screw bands too tight.  I did not tighten them so much this time and the broth level in the jars is right where it should be.


I also made some sourdough bread.  Our daughter was home when I took the loaves from the oven and she took one back to her apartment.    She and her roommates are hoping I will let them know when I’m again making bread. 🙂


Lights….ET (“Evil” Twin) called and asked if I could fix the ceiling lights in her kitchen, She said that every time she turned on the lights, the circuit breaker would trip.

The heat from the light bulb was high enough to destroy the insulation on the wires within the ceiling light fixture.   It was actually fortunate that the failure resulted in a short circuit that tripped the circuit breaker.  Had this not happened, the dangerous overheating problem likely would have remained “lurking”.   And, no, she did not put too large of a light bulb in the fixture.  She was using 60 watt ones. The fixture’s sticker said any light bulbs less than 150 watts was OK to use.

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…

 

 

 

 

 

Another Week Closer

It’s another week closer to October 17.  What I find amusing is that between the two of us, my wife is one who is more excited.

I think one of the things she’s looking forward to is my desire to cook.  Both of us get home too late to cook so we can eat at a reasonable hour.  So, on Sunday night we cook enough for the following week.   Once I retire, I’ll be able to cook for each meal!!!!!

Tonight I made sourdough dinner rolls.  King Arthur Flour has a really good recipe here. I skip the paprika, use unsalted water and make certain I use unchlorinated water.  This is one of the most forgiving recipes I’ve found; below sea level to over 8,500 feet (3,000 meters) elevation above sea level, hot, cool, dry, humid.  No matter what, it just works…which is why this recipe is in my red notebook.

My wife made chicken & dumplings from a recipe that she found.  It’s a favorite of ours, so it gets made every couple of months.  She’s asleep already and I don’t want to bug her for the recipe, so I don’t have one.  It uses frozen vegetables, canned cream of chicken soup, “dinner roll dough from a tube” for the dumplings and is cooked in a slow cooker…that may help. 🙂

The final thing we made was a tomato-basil-garlic pasta.  Cook 1/2 pound of pasta until done and after it is drained, add olive oil to the pasta and toss.  Blanch, peel and cut 2 pounds of tomatoes into small pieces,  Saute 4-5 crushed cloves of garlic until they are almost ready to turn brown.  Then add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste, the tomatoes, a tablespoon or two of basil paste, salt and pepper and stir.  When it’s cooked over low heat for 4-5 minutes, stir in the pasta. Serve and sprinkle grated Parmesan Cheese on the pasta.

I had planned on experimenting with cooking a whole chicken in a pressure cooker, but I forgot to thaw a frozen chicken.   I have looked through my collection of cookbooks and they all agree on cooking for about 6 minutes per pound…AFTER the pressure has reached 15psi.  None of my cookbooks mention pressure cooking frozen chicken and the various internet sites I checked were wildly inconsistent with cooking times.  So, maybe next weekend, if I remember to thaw a chicken.

First Time Home All Weekend

Except for a vacation and a few short deployments (a total of 8 weekends) I have been going to my parents’ house at least one weekend day each week since October 2003.  Even after my mother died, I continued to do this as I cleaned out the house so the workers could get in there to paint and install new carpet.

Today, for the first time in almost 14 years,  I did not go over there and I’m not sure if I feel relief, sad or glad; relief at having more time, sad that I can no longer visit with mom or glad that mom is no longer “imprisoned” in a failing body.

I felt similar conflicting thoughts when my fiancee died, so I guess this is normal.  No matter what, this is not something I want to go through again..but we have no choice.

I did not make it over to the cemetery to place mom’s wedding bouquet on their grave markers.  It was so breezy this morning that they would have blown away before I could have taken a picture.  So, maybe next weekend.

I did make use of the extra time by making sourdough bread.  This is the first time in many months I have done this.  The bread just came out of the oven and the house smells wonderful. My wife just sliced a piece and pronounced it “wonderful”…music to my ears.

The 2nd use of my time was cleaning out my dresser of no longer worn (or never worn) clothes.  In my job, manufacturers and engineering services firms drop by lots of shirts with their company logos embroidered on them.  I rarely wear them, and I just stick them in the dresser until I begin to have to really squeeze the stuff into the drawers.

Now that the dresser “load” has been reduced I will be able to get my clothes into the “new” dresser.  New and old are backwards this time. The new dresser dates to 1959 and was used by my parents.  The old dresser was put together in 2015. The 1959 dresser is made from solid maple and is beautiful.  The 2015 dresser is pressed board covered with wood looking “paper”.  It looks  OK, but not as nice as the maple.

Sourdough Waffles

Today was one of the sourdough feeding days.  Instead of drying the starter out to save it, I keep it in the refrigerator and feed (or use and replenish) the starter a couple of times a week.  But before I can feed it, I have to let it warm up on the kitchen counter for a couple of hours.

Our daughter noticed the starter out on the counter and asked if I could make sourdough waffles tomorrow.  She had even picked out a recipe at  King Arthur Flour sourdough waffle   for me and got the strawberries at the store.  It is not possible for me to say no to sourdough waffles (or pancakes).

The sourdough sponge is in a bowl–waiting until tomorrow morning and so is the old Griswold cast iron waffle iron.