Cutthroat Chopped!

The boys have been watching a lot of Food Network lately, such that #3 named himself Ted Brown and decided to host a combo of Cutthroat Kitchen and Chopped for dinner tonight.

Ted Brown got 62 dollars of play money out of his Allowance board game, and divided it equally between the contestants.

The theme was “Elevated Sandwich”. The contestants both faced a basket containing blueberry bagels, cream cheese, turkey lunchmeat, and leftover cous cous (full of dried fruits and nuts).

Mom got quickly to work on mixing cream cheese into the cous cous and forming patties that she started frying in the nonstick pan (which she was quick to grab before Dad had a chance!), and popped a bagel in toaster oven.

Dad assembled turkey, cream cheese, and jelly sandwiches on inside out bagels (except for one bagel half was not inside out), cracked an egg, dipped the sandwiches in and started frying his inside-out french-toasted Monte Cristo.

Auction one was to have to incorporate bagged iceberg salad. Dad figured he had no clue what to do with the cous cous and could make a combined salad with the lettuce so he didn’t bid it up too high.

Auction two was to do no cooking at all for 5 minutes. Dad let himself lose this one too because he was able to flip his sandwiches and put the pan on low, so they could survive for 5 minutes.

During the 5 minutes, Mom added some turkey to her pan to heat up, and then added turkey and cheese to her bagel halves in the toaster oven.

After the timeout was over, Dad made a bed of lettuce, and topped it with cous cous mixed with the fresh-chopped apple and balsamic vinaigrette; also he made a small bowl of dipping sauce with strawberry jelly and a touch of Log Cabin (to play off the French Toast theme). Unfortunately, due to cooking, the bagels were tough, and the cream cheese was slippery, so quartering the Monte Cristos was a massacre.

Mom plated her bagels as open-faced turkey melts with the cous-cous patties on top.

Since #3 was the host, #1 and #2 were the judges. As all the food was delicious, it was a tough decision. The sweet blueberry bagel was not the best for pairing with its savory toppings, but otherwise the patty was very good. The butchered Monte Cristo was seriously docked for presentation, and some judges found the whole thing too sweet. Also, the cous-cous salad was overdressed. It was for those reasons that Dad was Chopped, and Mom walked away with a $21 prize!

Hot Mexican Carrots

One of my favorite things about taco shacks has always been those little baggies of hot carrots. I finally did a little research and started making my own — can a snack get any healthier?

I developed my own method starting from here.

  • 3 lb carrots, peeled and sliced very diagonally about 1/4″ thick
  • Liquid: 2 parts white vinegar to 1 part water
  • 1/4c sugar
  • 1 onion, chopped into strips (half rings)
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced wafer thin
  • 1-2 c (1 jar?) pickled (“nacho”) jalapeno slices
  • oregano
  • (optional) red pepper flakes

Bring 2c vinegar and 1c water and 1/4c sugar to a boil, make sure sugar is dissolved. Add carrots, onion, garlic. Add liquid (2:1 vinegar:water) just to cover. Sprinkle generously with oregano, covering the surface (optionally sprinkle on red pepper flakes for extra heat). Bring back to a boil. As soon as it begins boiling, add and gently stir in the jalapenos (some juice is ok), and keep the heat on to boil for 2min30sec. Turn off the heat, cover, and let it steep until room temperature. Move to container(s) (including liquid) and refrigerate.

This gets very economical (certainly compared to 50-75c for a dozen carrot slices in a baggie) if you buy 10lb bags of carrots and 1gal jars of jalapeno slices from Costco.

So this recipe is rather subjective, as well as progressive. Start with this basic method, and save and strain the liquid for subsequent batches (when making each batch, boiling = sterilizing), topping up with additional 2:1 vinegar:water. Adjust subsequent batches depending on how you liked the previous one. Was the previous batch too sweet? Then add no new sugar, and the previous liquid will get less sweet by topping up with fresh vinegar. Too vinegary? Add a couple spoonfuls of sugar with the fresh liquid. Not hot enough? Use more jalapenos and/or red pepper flakes. Carrots too crunchy for your preference? Try boiling for 3:00. Too soft? Try backing off to 2:00. Etc.

As you reuse the liquid for more batches, it will get more green, as more jalapeno mushes into it. But it will also get more rich (not so sharply vinegary). As you go along, you can manage it by balancing previous liquid with fresh liquid.

Another tip that you might find helpful. It took me a little bit to find the best way to slice the carrots. For maximum size, you want to slice them very much on the bias, almost completely lengthwise. The best way to do this is to hold the carrot in your left hand, angled about from 1:00 to 7:00 on the cutting board, and the knife in your right hand at 12:00. This way you’ll get the right angle without having to hold your knife in an awkward, dangerous position (that is, if you are right-handed. Reverse as appropriate). Try to find a side of the carrot that you can rest stably on the cutting board so it won’t rotate or slip when you cut.

EUREKA: Blitz this stuff (carrots, onions, jalapenos, garlic, after lightly draining of liquid) in a food processor, and this makes an awesome spicy carrot relish! Try it anywhere you might use salsa, it’s especially good with melted cheese: in quesadillas, in an egg&cheese breakfast burrito, on nachos — and for a real mind-melt, try spicy carrot relish on Ruffles-nachos!

Hoagies & Stogies: Death Penalty

Here are the recordings from last week’s Hoagies & Stogies: Death Penalty:

  • Part 1: Debate (1:05:55, 16MB)
  • Part 2: Audience Q&A (26:55, 6MB)

Thanks so much to Dr. Ron Gleason and Don Lowe for their spirited discussion! Everybody had a great time.

Don’t forget to check out Dr. Gleason’s book Death Penalty on Trialit’s available for a discounted price from the publisher this month.

Also, don’t forget to check out the new tasting room at Hess Brewing’s new digs in North Park (see here for hours and directions).

And finally, don’t forget to send in your ideas for potential speakers for this growing list of topics

Conditional Baptism

If you are not a reader of Darryl Hart’s blog, you owe it to yourself to read his series on David I. Kertzer’s book The Kidnaping of Edgardo Mortara, which treats the tragic case of the Roman Catholic church forcibly adopting a six-year-old Jewish boy because, as a baby near death, a household servant had secretly had him baptized. This particular case highlighted, and probably put one of the final nails in the coffin of, Rome’s crumbling hold of political power in the mid 1800s.

In yesterday’s final post in the series, DGH links to an RC discussion of children baptized against their parents’ will, which explains a thing called “conditional baptism”, which put me in mind of the Hoagies & Stogies we had a few years back on The Validity of Roman Catholic Baptism (see here for audio, and the following two posts for discussion). I embolden some parts that I found relevant:

One of the reasons the Church ordinarily restricts the administration of baptism to priests and deacons (while allowing for laity and others to do so when someone is at the point of death and a priest or deacon is unavailable) is to prevent precisely the kind of confusion your mother-in-law has created by taking it upon herself to baptize her granddaughter without the parents’ permission.

1. There is such a thing as conditional baptism, but it is a baptism given when the validity of the original baptism is in question or when there is doubt as to whether a baptism occurred. In this case, the baptism your mother-in-law performed — assuming she did it correctly — would be the original baptism. Should her granddaughter’s parents choose to return to their Catholic faith and raise their daughter as a Catholic, a priest or deacon would perform a conditional baptism both to make sure it is done correctly and to start a sacramental record.

2. Since her granddaughter presumably was not at the point of death when your mother-in-law baptized her, the baptism she performed is presumably valid but illicit. That means that your mother-in-law should go to confession to confess having performed an illicit baptism.

3. I can only recommend that your mother-in-law admit to the child’s parents what she has done. They need to know so that they will know that the child needs conditional baptism, not unconditional baptism, should they decide to raise her Catholic or should the child eventually decide to become Catholic herself. Even were the child baptized when she was in extremis, the parents would still need to know about the baptism once it was clear she would survive. The only difference is that your mother-in-law should apologize for an illicit baptism. If the child was baptized while in extremis, an apology is not necessary. If such an admission is not made, and the parents or the child decide eventually for baptism, then the child may receive an unconditional baptism — which would be objective sacrilege since baptism cannot be unconditionally repeated.

In the H&S (and in the broader RC baptism debate) there is much use of the phrase “valid but irregular” to describe the prevailing Reformed view of RC baptisms, which seems largely the same as the phrase here “valid but illicit”. I wonder if the Reformed could make space in their sacramental theology for something like a “conditional baptism” to cover questionable cases.

Maybe the difference comes down to this. In a sacerdotalist, superstitious, ex opere system like Rome’s, there is need for “just in case” baptism. But in a Reformed system that understands the distinction between signs and things signified, and in which “grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto [baptism], as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it”, in a questionable case we’d rather not risk the “objective sacrelige” of repeating “unconditional baptism”.

Also, this would explain why the RC system “allow[s] for laity and others to do so” “in extremis“, while for the Reformed, “neither [sacrament] may be dispensed by any, but by a minister of the Word lawfully ordained.”

Middle/High School Ultimate in San Diego?

Imma shout this question out to the internet: Does anybody know about the Ultimate scene among high and especially middle schools in San Diego county? Any coaches, parents of players, school administrators, etc.?

Ultimate is a small, superior, and too-little-known sport, that I think would be a great match for my kids’ small, superior, and too-little-known school. Just this year they have instituted a fledgling sports program, introducing cross country, basketball, and soccer. I wanted to try to get Ultimate in on the ground floor as well, but the school (understandably) doesn’t want to devote energy to a sport for which there is no local league to participate in. So to try to get a jump on possibilities for next year, I’d like to try to research what else is out there.

Right now the school’s highest grade is 7, next year it will be 8th; so for now I’m looking for other middle schools that have any kind of ultimate program or even club. In the longer term, I would want to connect with other high schools, but for now that doesn’t help me.

For what it’s worth, I bought Essential Ultimate (Baccarini/Booth), and I think it does a great job of laying out fundamental skills and teaching strategies for the pre-college level. (For coaching college, I think you’d probably be better off with the “other” book, Ultimate Techniques and Tactics (Pinarella)). I did have the opportunity last school year to teach ultimate to the 5th-6th graders for about 6 weeks, plus hold a couple after-school games at a park (but I didn’t pull anything together this year) and I think I have a good group of kids to form a team.

H&S: Images II

What can I say? It was an epic night. Unfortunately the recording is a little plagued with wind, but if you listen close, I think all but a few phrases can be heard clearly.

Here are the .mp3s:

Note also related H&S on Images, Communion, and Baptism.

Make space on your calendar also for Dr. Bombaro’s upcoming lecture on Sanctification at Reformation Lutheran in El Cajon: 846 S. Johnson, Sat Nov 3 at 7pm.

And of course, don’t forget our good friends at Hess Brewing. Watch their calendar for events at the tasting room in Miramar for now, but also keep an eye out for the grand opening of the new facility, currently under construction on Grim Ave in North Park!

Homemade Bread: Delicious, Quick, Easy, and Cheap

Over the years, I have typed in and emailed many recipes to friends, so I thought I’d paste them into the blog, since I got nothin else goin on up in heyah! When I was a kid, once in a blue moon Mom would pull out the bread cookbook, and make homemade, from-scratch, cinnamon bread. Now fresh homemade bread is always good, but this stuff was like crack (except apparently I survived the withdrawals). I was thinking I’d set aside a weekend, borrow the book, and give it a try myself, you know, give my family the same rare treat I got. Then one of the daily recommendation emails from Amazon caught my eye, with a book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The user reviews were glowing. A little searching, and I found this article online where the fundamental recipe and all necessary techniques are just out there for the taking! (Talk about giving the milk for free!) I read it carefully, tried it out, and voila! As promised, Delicous, Easy, Quick and Cheap! Then I found a YouTube video, which showed me I was still working too hard (getting water to approximately 100 degrees, carefully adding yeast and flour little bits at a time in a desperate attempt to avoid clumping). And finally, I found the author’s website, which gave me even more tips and tricks (links below)! So I would recommend to print out the article, read it carefully (through the master recipe), and then give it a try. If you like it (and you want more recipes than plain white round bread) buy a book! In the meantime, here is the wisdom I have gleaned:

  • Ingredients
    • Buy yeast and flour at Costco (or Sam’s or whatever). I started with a three-packet strip of yeast for a couple bucks at the grocery store, and that made two batches (8 loaves). Then I bought a little glass bottle on sale for $7.something, and that lasted a few more batches. Then I checked at Costco, and a giant vacuum-packed brick of yeast (was it two pounds?) cost about 5 bucks. That’s enough for probably 100 batches, probably more. It will keep indefinitely in the freezer, and probably last a year or two.
    • Similarly for flour. I think it was 3-4 bucks for a 5lb bag of flour (2 batches=8 loaves). At Costco, it’s maybe 7-8 bucks for 25lb, and I think I saw $12.99 for 50lb. The thing is that flour has bug eggs in it, and will hatch bugs if you don’t use it quick enough. UNLESS you can freeze it for a couple days. We have plastic containers we can divide the big flour bag into, fit in the freezer (taking turns if necessary), and then it should be good to sit and wait indefinitely until we get around to baking and eating it.
    • The recipe calls for unbleached, all-purpose flour (or slightly less bread flour). Costco only sells bleached, but it hasn’t given us any trouble.
    • At the prices above, I have calculated that the ingredient cost comes out at under 20 cents per loaf.
  • Equipment
    • You need a pizza stone. The website warns against Pampered Chef pizza stones, they apparently break a lot.
    • They also say you need a pizza peel (wooden megaspatula) and cornmeal to slide the dough onto the preheated stone and scoop it back out, but we have found that we can use just flour to prevent sticking, and carefully place the dough onto the hot stone.
    • You also need a bucket with a lid (with holes). If the bucket and/or holes are too small such that the risen dough plugs the air holes, the yeast exhaust isn’t able to vent properly, and the bread  takes on a bitter, beery flavor. We started with a mixing bowl with a plate on top for a while, but it was pretty messy and crusty. So here’s what you do: you go to Ralph’s and buy a 5-qt bucket of ice cream (not Albertson’s or Vons, they only sell 4-qt). If you have any trouble disposing of the ice cream inside the bucket, contact me immediately! Poke (or for a neater look, drill) some holes in the plastic lid. I made five quarter-inch holes.
    • For measuring salt and yeast, I have a 2Tbsp metal coffee scoop. The recipe calls for only 1 1/2 Tbsp of each, so I carefully measured 1 1/2 Tbsp into the scoop, and marked the level with a sharpie for easy future reference.
  • There is considerable room for slop in the recipe.
    • Salt: I found my first try of the recipe to be a little salty. Salt can be reduced to taste, without concern for any other adjustments.
    • Yeast: can also be reduced, if you account for it properly with time. Read here.
    • Flour: as they recommend, I level the six cups of flour with the back of a knife. But the last 1/2 cup I simply eyeball.
    • Water: I just take whatever warm/hot water comes out of the faucet.
    • As the recipe indicates, the initial counter rise time is not important. 2-5 hours. Or even overnight.
  • Method:
    • First I measure the water into the bucket.
    • I used to measure the salt & yeast into a separate cup and then sprinkle it in to try to avoid clumping, but after watching the YouTube video, apparently you can just dump it in and not work too hard to break up the yeast clumps.
    • I still measure the 6 1/2 cups of flour into a separate bowl, so if I lose count I can start over. I pour in half the flour, whip it into a slop for about 30sec, and then pour in the rest, and mix until all the flour is wet.
    • Sometimes when I have trouble getting some pocket or corner of flour wet, I’ll expose the dry part, and slosh a little bit more water in. It’s ok.
    • The recipe is not kidding when it says that bread can be made right after the counter-rising, but it’s easier if the bread is refrigerated. Plan ahead so you have time to refrigerate the dough overnight before you need bread, so you can avoid a sticky, sloppy mess.
    • Don’t be afraid to liberally coat with flour in order to get a lump of dough which you can shape without sticking to your hands. To form a loaf, use your (flour-coated, serrated) bread knife to cut a quarter of a batch apart from the rest of the bucket, use the knife to pull/stretch the dough out (it won’t cut completely separate) and plop it into your flour container and flip it over.
  • Ideas
    • A couple teaspoons of rosemary mixed into the dough is real good. Maybe chop it a littler smaller than whole leaves, or whiz it quick in a spice grinder. Experiment with your favorite herbs or spices!
    • For our family (5 people), we can take the regular 4-loaf batch, and make 5 slightly smaller loaves, hollow them out, and Bam! Soup in bread bowls! (Bear Creek Broccoli&Cheese soup mix is great: just add water, or “soup” it up with extra broccoli and cheese!)
    • Sandwich loaves: prepare two batches of dough (you’ll need two buckets, or a really big bucket — that still fits in the fridge!), sit out for 2+ hours and refrigerate as usual, then divide the whole double-batch into three equal portions, stretch/shape as usual except allow them to elongate, put them in three PAM’d 9×4 bread pans, bag the pans or cover with something flat (an upside down half-sheet baking tray is perfect for 3 bread pans), let them rise for 90min or more (I will typically put the loaves in the bread pans before evening church around 5:30, let them sit at home until we get back around 7:30), slash the tops just before baking to control expansion, bake in a 450 oven with steam (but no stone needed) for 45 minutes, then turn loaves out of pans onto a rack to cool, slice, bag, and freeze.
  • Cost
    • King Arthur says a cup of flour is typically 4.25 oz. So a 50lb bag of flour has 188 cups, which makes about 31 batches (6c each).
    • 50lb of baker’s (bread) flour is about $15 (I think it’s $14 and change), so that’s under 48c per batch (batch=four round loaves or five bread bowls, or one-and-a-half sandwich loaves)
    • Yeast is even cheaper ($4 something for yeast that lasts through at least 100lb of flour?), and salt is even cheaper than that, and water is even cheaper than that. And gas or electricity for the oven doesn’t cost much either. So I’ll round less-than-48c-per-batch to 50c per batch.
    • So for us, 1 batch = 5 bread bowls = 10c each; or 2 batches = 3 sandwich loaves = 3 for $1.
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