Monthly Archives: December 2009

Thought experiment for conservatives

You have a terrorist, really bad guy, plenty of blood on his hands. He’s in your basement. There’s a bomb set to go off in 24 hrs that will wipe out an American city, killing millions. Only he knows where the bomb is, and how to defuse it. The only way to get the information out of him is to get his wife heart surgery, his mom into a good retirement home, set up a college trust fund for his son and bake him delicious homemade sugar cookies.

Do you do it?

(hint: this kind of extreme interrogation technique leads to a lot more actionable info a lot quicker than five years of torture at Gitmo.)

Field Notes: Salt Roasting

Salt roasting is when you pack something in rock or kosher salt then bake it, usually around 350, until some time has passed. It’s commonly done with seafood, but other meats and even some veggies get salt roasted on occasion. It’s kind of amazing, because it doesn’t necessarily make the thing you’re cooking salty, and keeps it unaccountably moist. I started off with a traditional salt roasting dish:

  • Potato – did one small white potato packed in kosher salt for 50 minutes at (I think) 350ish. (I have no idea how far off this oven is.) It was tasty and really evenly cooked, and the salt came right off. Leeetle underdone. It really takes things packed in salt a while to cook.
  • Mushroom – just one plain white mushroom. I gave this 20-25 minutes. This did take up the salt, but stayed kind up more puffed up and moist than I’m used to mushrooms being. It was nice, except for the gagging on the salt thing. It made me want to play with brulee’ing maybe sous vide mushrooms or something, to see if you can have them moist *and* browned.
  • Corn on the cob – one ear, cut in half. 20 minutes Not salty, very moist, not really cooked though per se. Kind of took that one out too quick. Not sure that it was a particularly superior way of cooking corn though, but it was very evenly heated.
  • Apple – I gave this about a half hour. Ok. So the theory wasn’t *totally* crazy on this one, since the salt seemed to not penetrate much into the roasted item, but kept things moist and evenly cooked. But… well… the apple exploded at some point. I tasted it on a dare, or rather tried to get someone to dare me to taste it, and when every seemed to think that was a Bad Idea dared myself and tasted it anyway. Baked apple tastes really good. Being heavily salted however is something of a drawback. Ok, I admit: ew.
  • Garlic – This was pretty normal roasted garlic. I gave it about 40 minutes. I finished the night by whipping up a batch of baglep (a Tibetan pan fried flatbread. I’m getting a bit obsessed with quick breads at the moment.) and spread the garlic on it, but it wasn’t remarkably different from any other roasted garlic. By this time, the salt was a pretty solid brown chunk and I had to chisel the cloves out.
Neat, I didnt know salt could turn this color. Or this smell.

Neat, I didn't know salt could turn this color.

FACT: You can save and reuse the salt for future roasting.
ALSO A FACT: It starts to look and smell a little funny after two potatoes, a mushroom, an ear of corn, an exploded apple, and several cloves of garlic.
OPINION: Saving this salt is probably not a good idea.

Just in case you needed to know

  • Clarifying two sticks of butter: 225g to begin with, 167g after boiling out the water and filtering out the solids. It’s nutty and nice.
  • Bus kanaka is a loan word from Tok Pisin entering English, Tok Pisin being a loan language from English. It means living by traditional instead of modern ways.
  • You never did the Kenosha kid.
  • Tonight’s Stone Soup: Winter roots

    A crappy phonecam pic of the soup is better than no pic at all, right?

    A crappy phonecam pic of the soup is better than no pic at all, right?

    1 onion
    3 cloves garlic
    5-6 cups broth
    2 potatoes
    small yam
    3-4 parsnips
    1/2 cup sliced cabbage
    1 carrot
    1 or 2 teaspoons lemon juice

    Bay leaves
    salt and pepper

    Boil broth with bay leaves. (I used water and bullion for 4 cups water.)

    Cut up the potatoes, in a lot of different sizes and add them early, when the water starts to boil. The big ones will be chucks in the soup, but the small bits will cook in, making the broth thicker and richer. Leave on skins- they are flavorful and nutritious.

    Sauteed ingredients: (I like to saute soup ingredients, it adds a lot to the flavor, and this was no exception.) Sweat or saute onions in clarified butter, and when they’re close to done, add garlic. Add these first. Slice the yam thinly and sauteed it in the remaining butter. Set aside. Peel and slice the parsnips at an angle, saute and set aside.

    I don’t saute cabbage or carrots, but what the heck, try it if you want to. Add the ingredients in this order, times are approximate:

    Bay leaves/bullion (if using it) – from cold
    Potatoes- from boiling
    Onions and garlic – 12 minutes later
    Sliced yam/cabbage – 5 minutes later
    Parsnips – 10 minutes later
    Carrots/Thyme – 5 minutes later

    Let this go for another 5-10 minutes, and test the broth. If it’s too sweet, and it likely will be, add lemon juice until it balances. (Root veggies have a lot of sugar, and caramelizing them makes them taste a lot more interesting. But the sweetness can be overwhelming in a soup, hence the lemon.)

    Salt and pepper to taste. Eat.