Doughs Before Bros

Alternate working title:  Leaven and the Ragged Tiger

It should be no surprise that I am a crappy blogger.  The real question, however, is why. I’m not a bad blogger simply because I seldom post. At the worst, this makes me a LAZY blogger.

Sometimes I rationalize this by telling myself that I have to be “in the moment,” you know, interesting food I feel passionately about, with a humorous storyline and mesmerizing visuals.  A LOT has to fall into place for all of that to be in place, my friends.  But, again, that’s a rationalization.  Sometimes I’m just lazy.

I’m not even a bad blogger because I don’t proofread.  Or verify my links or fix my #*$& WordPress template or present my recipes consistently or make sure my blogroll is current.  This makes me a SLOPPY blogger.   You’ve seen the stove, right?   I’m working on it. I think the real reason I’m a crappy blogger?   I overlook the obvious.  Food I eat weekly The foods that take up most of my intellectual and culinary effort.  Stuff I read about think about, talk about.  I always think I’m at my best when I’m putting my cooking in the context of my “real” life – my struggles with time due to carelessness, my social ineptitude and relational crucibles, my willingness to go hungry rather than eat out of a box.

So, bread.

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Question. What do vegetarian zombies eat?

Tee Hee. Anyway, I offer you the following cogent facts.

1. I enthusiastically maintain a bacon blog.
2. The last chocopot will be pulled from my cold, dead, sticky fingers.
2a I’m sorry if you clicked that link and didn’t already know how bad I need to clean my stove.
3. I have a family history of diabetes.
4. I need caffeine and am very picky about how I get it. Sometimes this means dirty dancing with the soda machines.
5. It is no longer 1993 and I am no longer able or even remotely inclined to run 30 miles a week. (yet)
So. 6. Obviously, eating well is a critical day-to-day challenge for me.

I mean, the exercise part is going to take care of itself. After about two months of running, I did get my first weight loss compliment the other day, which made me feel really good. But, like I said, I’ve been working on eating better, too.

It all started with this “health fair” they had at work. At first I was only in it for the $25 gift card, but I figured how much could it hurt to actually have my cholesterol and blood pressure checked?

Well, have you ever read Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Tell-Tale Heart?” Toward the end of the story, the murderer is visited by three very polite police inspectors, who simply and calmly talk to the murderer… and witness a complete breakdown and confession.

It was like that.

They were sitting around me at the table in the break room with the results of my screening just looking at me. My glucose is normal and my blood pressure is fine. But I could stand to drop some weight and my “bad” cholesterol was, well, bad.

“Have you ever thought about whole grains?”

Never leave me a comic opening.

“Yeah, I have ‘thought’ about whole grains. But I bake all my own bread and I figure that if I want whole grains I can just use white flour and eat a Goddamn Flinstones Chewable.”

Now, I’m not sure of the precise words that came out of my mouth. But I am COMPLETELY certain that I did actually say “Goddamn Flinstones Chewable.”

The Health Fair Ladies were not impressed. At all.

Despite my snarkyness, their point was well taken. The “1/4 cup of whole wheat flour I typically add to my 3 cups of bread flour when I bake bread” thing just isn’t cutting it anymore.

So the key was finding something I liked. I settled on this.

I really do suck at cooking brown and wild rice, partially because I am an impatient person and partially because I never add enough water. The instructions always say about three cups of liquid for each cup of rice, I’ve never been able to do it with fewer than like five.

Unfortunately after I started the cooking I forgot about Mark Bittman’s brown rice pilaf. I’ll do that next time.

So, basically, I wated to report that I’ve found a healthy meal option.

Brown Rice: Add an ass-ton of water and boil it.
Broccoli: steam or blanch it. (I steamed it here)

Also, pretend that you don’t see that piece of andouille sausage there. Really.

One cup of rice and one rubber banded “thing” of broccoli made enough for one meal

And a tasty bento box.


This recipe is a work in progress.   I mean, it’s not like I focus group this stuff.

Here’s the question:  What protocol, however informal, do you follow when you want to cook something new?

Before I explain how I do things, let me reveal another tidbit about myself that should shock all of you.  I am a stubborn, arrogant, pigheaded SOB incapable of believing anything I see, hear or read. Ever.

So, yeah, when I want to cook something new I typically go through a three-step process.

1. Comb the Internet as well as my vast array of crumb-besmirched cookbooks looking for the perfect recipe.
2. Reject everything I read because it just seems “wrong” for often arbitrary reasons I may or may not choose to articulate.
3. Wing it.

In my case I’m fortunate because my culinary repertoire tends toward “forgiving” recipes.  Soups, braises, stew.  Baked items with plenty of butter,  veggies at the last minute that are perfectly tasty if either overcooked or undercooked slightly.

I guess am the kitchen equivalent of a spread-option quarterback.

But sometimes you don’t want to play it safe.  While you might be able to guarantee “pretty good,” circumstances sometimes demand “outstanding.”  A cheese souffle (this has become my standard), Or, more to the point, something that demands the purchase of an expensive, blockbuster main ingredient.

This was one of those times.  I really, really wanted a Lobster Bisque.

The key problem for me to solve was “how much of what type of liquid?”   I knew white wine would need to be involved.  And chicken broth.  And, because it was a bisque, some sort of cream would be called for.

I also had it in my head that lobster bisque needs to be seriously yellow.  To me this means a bit of steeped saffron which means, yes, more hot water.

I no longer consider myself a bechamel ninja.  I can do three tablespoons each of butter and flour followed by three cups of liquid, usually milk.  This creates enough for a mac and cheese or some other sort of binding agent.  What I’m not very good at, however, is extrapolating.  It’s difficult for me to sort of adjust the quantities of butter and flour when I am not exactly sure how much of exactly what liquids I would be adding.  Long story short, I got lucky.

Which brings me to the lobster tails.

I have never worked with lobster.  In fact, the only time I remember actually eatinglobster was at this revolving restaurant overlooking Niagara Falls, while on a family vacation twenty five years ago.

Supposedly, retail lobster is cheaper this year.  People are ordering less lobster in restaurants, which means that restaurants are ordering less, which means that there is actually a glut of the little guys up in the northeast, and prices throughout the rest of the country are starting to catch up.

Anyway. I had two “fresh” lobster tails.  Actually, it was pretty obvious that they had been frozen at some point and allowed to thaw in the grocery case, which was fine by me.

But it led to an “eeu!” moment.  It wasn’t quite Annie Hall, but when I unsealed them from their little packet, they each “twitched” for a moment.  I watch too many zombie movies not to be unnerved when supposedly dead things are still animated.

And, like I said, I got lucky with the soup base.  It was thick enough and yellow enough and had a good balance between the cream and the wine.   I may need to tweak a little bit, so that 25 years from now when I make something like this again, I’ll remember what I did.

Lobster Bisque Version 0.9

Lobster tail(s) weighing a total of about 12 ounces. This should yield a cup and a half of meat.
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup of boiling water containing as many saffron threads as you are willing to part with
1/4 cup half and half
4 T butter
4 T Flour
1 large celery stalk, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 of a large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic

Prepare the saffron-water. Pour the boiling water into a ramekin and add the saffron. Stir a bit, then cover. Stir occasionally as you continue with the recipe. The water should turn a luxurious yellow.

Next, prepare the lobster(s). I find it easiest to steam them briefly. In your soup pot, bring a little bit of water to a boil and set the tails on top of your steamer insert. Cover the pot, cook for about six to eight minutes. They should be slightly undercooked. Set them aside to cool.

Melt the butter over low heat in your soup pot. Add the onions and garlic, along with a little salt, and cook, stirring constantly, until they turn pale. Add the other veggies and cook for another few minutes until they, too, are soft.

Sprinkle on the flour, stirring constantly. You will reach a point where the mixture begins to smell “grainy” but there should be no large clumps of flour on the bottom of the pot.

Add the wine first, all at once. Adjust the heat to a high simmer.

Add the broth, saffron water, and paprika. Stir frequently until the mixture thickens.

Harvest the lobster meat. I used my poultry shears to cut open the carapace and a serrated melon baller to extract the flesh. (you can do this and the soup cooks) Add the lobster meat, lower heat to a simmer, and cook for another twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serves two as a main course (with bread of course!) or four as a starter.


Forgot about the chocolate truffle torte.  Yum.  Recipe is here.

There Will Be No Pictures of Pigs Shooting Down Brothers on the Instant Replay

I suppose this is the part where I tell you what a great blogger I’m going to be.

And how I’m going to make all of these promises I have no intention of keeping.

To be diligent in my updates.   To network with the other bacon bloggers.  To update for the sake of updating.

News Flash: not going to happen.

Well, maybe.  See.  I started food blogging about a year ago here Wrote some posts, honed some recipes, generated some traffic, made some people laugh.

But I had issues.

Some of these were technical in nature.  My web host is unfriendly. They don’t support certain technologies which means the site had to be built by hand.  I mean, they haven’t even updated their OWN website since like 2002.  Then there is the comment spam.

But the real issue was culinary. You know how a compass always points north?  All of my recipes were… drawn toward the inevitable.   I’d make a perfectly good soup and bemoan its lack of salt pork.    I’ll make salad and wish it had more bacon.

Hell, I’ll make salad DRESSING and wish it had more bacon.

My piñata full of bacon candy was, perhaps, the moment I realized I need a new blog.

I reserve the right, occasionally, to not write about bacon.  Or salt pork. Or chorizo served over scrambled eggs with a side of perfectly seasoned roasted potatoes.  Or BBQ so good you suck on the leftover napkins.

I am perfectly content with a bowl of blanched edamame and a zombie movie.  But think of it this way.  I remember this file footage of Bobby Fischer (the chess guy) going bowling in Reykjavik during the 72 title match with Spassky.  He was basically hurling the ball down the little alley overhand and when someone tried to give him advice, Bobby brushed him off with something like, “You know, there is chess, and then there is everything you do to get ready to play or wind down after playing.”

So.  Here I am.  Hi. Welcome to my Bacon Blog.