Category Archives: In a Hole

Clean Up Week

an article from In a Hole

cropped-bagnd.jpgThe Hobbit, more so than any other book I have ever read,  gave me a true sense of the love a person has for their home. A place in the world to call your own. The roof over your head. The place where you are safe and warm. Your comfy chair and your nice warm bed. Wishing you were in your Kitchen fixing eggs. In a Hole is about home.

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clean

Clean Up Week

No your home is not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, but it’s been closed up all winter and needs a good round of spring cleaning.

Growing up in Chicago we would get a week off in spring. What is now called Spring Break was then called Clean Up Week. My father had explained that farmers needed their kids to help get ready for planting. Like daylight savings this was another structure within the system to help agricultural states like Illinois. For us kids it just meant a week without school.

Clean up week was not only rural. Both farmers and merchants alike pitched in to get things cleaned up. There was a real sense of community, of putting your house in order and the sense that winter was being swept away and spring was here. Clean Up Week has been reduced to Townships collecting yard waste. For most people Clean Up Week means that you can get rid of yard waste for free.

Well I think that Clean Up Week is a state of mind. Every few months we need to go through and eliminate the unwanted and clean and maintain the rest. Clean Up Week is a great way to put things back in order and say goodbye to winter. While I am not going to get into the specifics that you need to do this is more macro than micro article.

The idea here is to set aside a block of time to put your house in order. This is more than just yard work. Maybe you need to paint or replace carpet. Maybe those closets are busting at the seams and winter clothing need to be stored. How about carpet and upholstery cleaning? Maybe you need to have the AC unit serviced before it gets to warm.

Some of these things may take more than a week. This is why I think of clean up week as a state of mind. By creating a list of things you need to see get done and working these within a time frame that is reasonable you will have a task free summer.

 

Have you read

blitzOr how about

eagle-staredownThese articles will help you get organized and teach you how to attack.

 

Spring cleaning also needs to be done. Washing and wiping and window cleaning, shampooing, steaming cleaning and dry cleaning, grouting, caulking and waxing sealing and don’t forget to oil and grease when needed.

There is a lot to be said for just airing everything out. Open the doors and windows ( do you need to replace screens add it to the list) and let the wind blow.

This is the time of the year when spring fever hits me the hardest. One day it’s snowing the next day it’s 48 degrees and the next its bitter cold. You can feel spring wanting to roll in and winter not wanting to die off. Whether you start inside the house or out in the yard beginning your Clean Up Week will  help you feel like your pushing winter out.

Remember it’s not the tent you pitch or where you pitch it that makes your house a home. What makes it home is the time you send with the people you love and the joy and merry you make together.

 

May the Love of Christ be with you always….

…Live long and Prosper

 © 2014 GEEKUSEXTREMUS.COM

 

 

 

The Practical Method

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Imagine if you suddenly found yourself with nothing. No home, no car, no extra clothing, nothing but a few changes of cloths and some shoes.

Well this actually happened to me. I wiped out on the surf board of life. When I washed up on shore I was divorced, foreclosed and in Chapter 13 for five years. Any one of these events is a major life change. Any one of these can take years to recover from. If you have experienced any of these then you know how devastating these life changes can be.

When I hit shore I had a few changes of work cloths and some shoes. A  good friend was looking for a room-mate and saved me from living on the street. I slept on the floor of my empty bedroom with a throw cushion as a pillow and a kids army sleeping bag.

Prior to this I was living in a 3000sq home  on a stocked lake in a gated community. Amenities included a rec center, health club, pool and golf course.

Licking my wounds I struggled to survive. It took months to save up and buy a used vehicle. When I did, I went to collect my things from the empty house.

As I went through the house I couldn’t believe the stuff or junk that was left behind. My ex-wife, my son and my step kids had taken the things they wanted and had left the rest. Now it was my turn to go through things.

As I went through the house, basement and garage I was stunned. Every room was filled with things that no one wanted. So why did we have this stuff in the first place? In fact most of it we moved in with. We never even unpacked it. But now, in the aftermath, these things held no value to anyone. In the end I left with my cloths, tools and some personal items.

What a waste.

When Times are green put it in your pocket when times are hard put it in your heart -Geekus Extremus

As I pulled out of the driveway I took one last look at the house that I built. Our family home had been nothing more that a monument of excess.I made the decision then to keep things at a minimum and life at a maximum.

As I drove back to the apartment (70 miles) I remembered the days following my fathers funeral. Going through his things, the mementos from his life, his trophies from when he was young. These things held meaning for him. When he was gone they held no meaning for the rest of us.

By the time I made it home I knew what I wanted for myself.

In one word…less.

No I don’t mean living out of a rucksack. I mean adopting a set of rules to live by. For me this meant being more Practical.

Twice a year I employ what I call  the practical method. Look around your home and be honest with yourself. Are there things in you closet, cabinets, basement, attic and garage that you really don’t need?

Then why are they there?

The Practical method means eliminating  all the unused or unnecessary things in your life.

These are the rules. They are simple. They keep things lean.

Have you worn it in a year?

Lets start with clothing. If you have not worn it in a year get rid of it. This includes shoes. Sorry ladies. The exception will be to special clothing like suits or party dresses for special occasions.Here is a great example. Have you ever kept a pair of jeans with a hole in them in case you have a job that requires you to wear old cloths? At one point I owned more jeans with holes than without.

They are called coveralls. Buy a pair for $20. Throw the worn clothing out.

Have you used it in a year?

Thrift stores are filled with Panini presses, cappuccino machines, George Foreman grills and portable DVD players…

Why?

Because cherry pitters and turkey fryers seem like good ideas but somehow never get used. This stuff becomes junk that lives with you. Junk that moves with you. Junk that clutters and stifles and entraps you. This  adds stress to your home.

Your home should never be stressful.

Does it serve a purpose?

All of us hang onto things that we don’t really need. Women keep their old purses and empty compact containers. Men save nuts and bolts,string and hinges. For some reason we see a value in things that is not really there. We fool ourselves by saying I might need that or that might come in handy one day. The truth is that this is just more clutter that surrounds you and smothers you and needlessly fills your home.

Growing up  I lived in an apartment. My parents did a great job of clearing things out. Christmas came and we had to make room for our new toys by letting go of old ones. New cloths came and we went through drawers and closets and got rid of things that did not fit or were worn out or no longer used. Things like puzzles that were missing pieces, broken toys and games that were broken or missing items were sent to the trash.

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I have seen and read a lot about people who live a minimalist life style. For many they own only what they can carry on there backs. For others their homes consist of bare essentials which looks more like a monastic cell in a monastery than a home.

While having nothing makes it easier to clean it also fails to create an environment that reflects the person who lives there.

The Practical Method helps you keep whats good in your life and eliminate whats bad.

I encourage you to take the time twice a year (at least) to go through what you have a ask yourself these three questions:

  • Have I worn it in a year?
  • Have I used it in a year?
  • Does it serve a purpose?

If you answer NO then get it out of your home. Sell  the items, donate them or throw them in the trash… but get rid of them!

As we have talked about so many times we learn first by modeling ourselves after others. Mimicking what we don’t know. Then adapting these ideas and concepts and making them our own methods. This is a model or  another way to follow if you do not have your own.

This is a practical method.

May the Love of Christ be with you always….

…Live long and Prosper

 © 2014 GEEKUSEXTREMUS.COM

Bilbo’s Buttermilk Biscuits

Bilbo’s breakfast VI

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Baking bread is a smell that fills a home. It is a smell you will remember your entire life. Fresh bread out of the oven is wonderful. Slathering a biscuit with butter while it’s still hot is one of my favorite things. In fact biscuits have become a staple in our breakfast routine.

When Bilbo sneaks a couple of scones off the plate and stuffs them into the pocket of his robe as Dwalin proceeds to devour Bilbo’s supper you have to laugh. If you have not seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey you really should.

Rather than trying to make scones I decided to find a recipe for quick biscuits. Which is really what a scone is. To be able to have biscuits quickly you need to have a mix already prepared. Rather than scones we are making America’s favorite the buttermilk biscuit.

The Biscuit Mix:

  • 10 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of baking powder
  • 4 tbsp of white sugar
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups of vegetable oil

Mix all your dry ingredients. Then add the oil. Mix with a fork. The mixture will have small lumps. Store in an air tight container in a cool dry place for up to three months. Since none of the ingredients require refrigeration the mixture doesn’t either.

Once you add buttermilk to the mix it will not keep.

When it’s time to make the biscuits here is what you’re gonna do…

Making the Biscuits

Preheat oven to 450. Mix together in a bowl 2 1/2 cups biscuit mix and 2/3 cup of buttermilk. Stir together to form a soft dough.  lightly flour the table surface. Turn dough out and knead  about 10 times. Then cut dough into 12 equal pieces. You can use a cup or mug to get that round shape. Place them on a prepared baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown.

This dough will lead to many other yummy things I’m sure.

Are they scones?…no they are Buttermilk… which is even better.

 

May the Love of Christ be with you always….

…Live long and Prosper

 © 2013 GEEKUSEXTREMUS.COM

Pancakes is Hobbit’s Food

Bilbo’s Breakfast V

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Today is the 76 anniversary of There and Back Again or simply The Hobbit as the big people call it. It is the tale of the most unlikely and most unheroic character, our ever beloved Bilbo, who sets out on a quest for Dragons gold. In the company of Dwarves and a Wizard, Bilbo’s adventure takes him into perilous and hair raising danger. Each chapter teems with surprises.

It is a book well worth reading.

The Hobbit or There and Back Again actually gave me the vision of what I want my home to be. A place of comfort and peace where friends and family can gather. If you want to sit it’s great for sitting. If you want to eat the pantries are full. If you like to cook well we have the pots.  If you want to tinker there is a place of tinkering. If you want to putter well it’s great for puttering. Maybe you just want to nap.There is a wonderful spot in the shade on the deck. Or maybe you want to raise a few daisy’s. Nothing wrong with fresh tilled earth.

On the weekends my father would cook the best breakfasts. When he was in the kitchen fixing breakfast we new he was off. This meant we would all be together for the day. His breakfasts are a tradition that my son and I have continued.

When Bilbo’s adventure to the lonely mountain is at its most difficult he dreams of being home in his Kitchen fixing eggs. No… it is not a prophetic dream like the Noodle dream in Kung Fu Panda. Bilbo is simply missing home. Cooking breakfast reminds him of home. It is one of the things that reminds me of home.

Now Gollum will say that Pancakes is Hobbits food but if you add some bacon even a dwarf will be happy. There is nothing heartier than a big stack of homemade pancakes dripping in butter and Maple syrup. By the way it doesn’t hurt to have good friend who gets fresh maple syrup from his brother who taps the trees himself.

Bilbo’s Pancakes

 Combine 1 1/2 cups of milk with 4  tbs of white vinegar and let stand while you mix the wet and dry ingredients.

DRY MIX

In a large mixing bowl combine and whisk:

2 cups of all purpose flour.

4 tbs of white sugar

2 tsp of baking powder

1tsp of baking soda

1/2 tsp of salt

WET MIX

take 4 tsp of butter and heat it up in microwave enough to melt. Then whisk in 2 eggs and 1 tbs of vanilla. Again the bowl must not feel hot from microwave or the baking power will activate to soon.

Now mix in the milk/vinegar combination.

COMBINE THE WET AND DRY

Slowly add the wet mix to your dry mix. At first you will whisk the mix but as it thickens you will need a spatula. Once it’s completely mixed let it stand while the electric griddle heats up.Set your griddle temp a little lower than suggested. We are going to cook these in butter so we do not want the butter to burn. See Out of the Frying Pan for temp.

COOKING

You are going to need an Electric griddle. They are only $20 and are well worth the money. You can use a fry pan but then where will you cook the bacon?

Once the griddle is warm coat it with butter. If the butter browns or darkens the griddle is to hot.  Use a ladle rather than try to pour. I usually get eight cakes on the griddle at a time. These are a little larger than silver dollar cakes. As they cook you will see bubbles and the edges of the cakes will get firm so it’s flipping time. When you flip the cakes you can add a little butter to the cooked side so it melts. If you prefer you can add butter as you pull them off . I do it on the griddle.

SMOTHERING

Do I really need a step called smothering? Yes…yes I do.

Smother these in the best maple syrup you can get. Here in the Fortress of Solitude these Pancakes were genetically engineered for a single purpose. They were designed to absorb syrup and butter. Take a stack of these pancakes, smother them in butter and syrup and cut them up. Then look at them and ask yourself where did the syrup and butter go?

POWDERED SUGAR

Once you have smothered these pancakes shake a generous amount of powdered sugar on top. You will need to get a shaker for this that has a cover so it’s always ready for Pancakes.

WARNINGThese pancakes may cause drowsiness and napping.You are going to need a comfortable place to sit and digest . Always consume with Bacon. Avoid heavy lifting or anything that resembles work.

Once again your home is just a space filled with things. What truly makes it special is the people you share it with. It is what you do together with loved ones  that makes your space a home.

May the Love of Christ be with you always….

…Live long and Prosper

 © 2013 GEEKUSEXTREMUS.COM

Perk Perk Perk it goes

Bilbo’s Breakfast IV

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Wah..Wah…Wah… is how everyone sounds to me until I have had my morning coffee.You know the way the parents sound in the Peanuts cartoons. People talk and I just hear wah…wah…wah.

You probably think I am joking. I’m not. I get up, put on my robe, slippers, turn on the pot and sit like a miserable wretch while the coffee perks. Then with a mug from my collection I have coffee. Elves and humans tend to wake up and flutter about. Chatty in the morning. Like the Chinese girl in Transporter 1. Dwarves and Hobbits are hard starts. I know. My son is Dwarf and I am Hobbit. Ask anyone that knows us. They will tell you. We do not get up well. If at all.

Unless there is food…

A bit of bagel and cream cheese, a hot cinnamon roll, toast with apple jelly. Even a warm buttery biscuit will do. It’s not breakfast mind you, not at all. It’s just a little bit…sorry… This article is about coffee isn’t it ?

Recently I decided to take a little more time with the things in life that I enjoy. We put so much time and effort into our work. We should do the same for ourselves. A little more effort in our personal lives. So I made the decision to stop the automatic drip and go back to the old school way of making coffee. Grinding and perking.

They have tea, ale, beer and wine in the Shire. Hobbits are known for their hospitality so I am sure they have coffee. The beans are probably grown is South Farthing. In our world coffee beans are grown everywhere from Colombia to the Philippines. So imagine taking fresh beans from all over the world and grinding and blending your own coffee. The flavor of the coffee you drink will be tailored to your personal tastes. Unique to your home. The Shire blend…The Bree Roast…the South Farthing grind…the Green Dragon brew…you get the idea.

 

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What would Bilbo’s coffee grinder look like ? This inexpensive hand grinder has a large enough bowl on top to handle all the different bean mixes you can come up with. It also allows you to choose how coarse of a grind you want. You can simply measure out the amount of the different beans your blending. Pour them into a large plastic zip-lock bag. Mix them in the bag. Then pour out the amount you want to grind. Or grind it all. Refrigerate or freeze the unused amount. You can blend a lot ahead of time or as needed. You can even have different coffee blends for different occasions. This also makes the coffee you drink your own, unlike anyone else. That’s Shaken, not Stirred.

 

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This is a stove top coffee maker. Or if you prefer a camping coffee pot. This is the type of coffee pot Bilbo would use in his kitchen. Or on his way to the lonely mountain.

This is the best way to make coffee.

Directions:

The process here is simple. Coarse grind the coffee. Use one heaping tablespoon of coffee for every cup. Fill and pack the basket attached to the stem. Fill the pot with the amount of water for the amount of cups your making. Bottled water is better for this than tap water. Insert stem and basket. Place on the stove and wait for it to perk.

You will see it start to perk in the glass dome. What is happening is the boiling water is flowing up to the tube and spilling over the basket filled with the coffee grounds. This coffee is collecting into the bottom of the pot. The longer it perks the more times this cycle repeats.  This makes for wonderful coffee.

Tips:

Once boiling or perking begins lower the temperature. Allow for the coffee to perk 5min. If you like it stronger let it go longer. You may want to set a timer. Always remove the stem and basket before pouring. You may also want to use a carafe.

Home blended coffee from scratch will make having Bilbo’s breakfast the best part of your day. Once again the articles you find In a Hole is about making your home a unique special place that you share with friends, family and people you love. Even if they just come over for a cup of coffee.

May the Love of Christ be with you always….

…Live long and Prosper

 © 2013 GEEKUSEXTREMUS.COM

What’s Taters, Precious?

Bilbo’s Breakfast III

DSC00710Bilbo on his way to the lonely mountain missed home. Even though he found treasures along the way he still wanted nothing more than to be home.

Nothing says home like the smell of breakfast cooking. Getting up on your day off without an alarm. Having that first cup of perked coffee. Staying in your pajamas while you cook up a breakfast that would make Bilbo proud is the best way to start your day off. Breakfast is a comfort food and home is about comfort.

 

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In our first article Eggses! Eggses it is ! We discussed all the ways that we like to cook eggs. Take the time to read this you might learn a few tricks.

 

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In our second article Out of the Frying Pan We discussed cooking bacon and how to season your own cast iron fry pan. I really encourage you to read this and then season a fry pan.

In this article we are going to discuss the best way to make homemade hash browns. This does take a little planning ahead but the reward is yummy golden hash browns with your eggs and bacon.

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Now I am going to save you all the trouble I went through in trying to learn to make hash browns from scratch. The first time I made them I peeled, graded and fried the potatoes. So what can be the problem right? That’s how hash browns are made right?

Wrong.

I peeled the potatoes and used the large holes in a box grader. As I graded moisture accumulated during the grading process. I squeezed out this moisture and dropped the hash browns into a saute pan filled with oil. What I got was a greasy gooey sticky mess not golden crisp hash browns. I tried again with butter instead of oil. Same result.

“Nastsies!”

I actually found the secret of making great hash browns while I was learning  to make the best mashed potatoes from scratch. The secret is refrigeration.

You see what makes the hash browns gooey and sticky is the gluten in the potatoes. When the potatoes are chilled this gluten crystallizes. Once the gluten is crystallized it stays that way. No more starchy gooey stickiness while grating.

No more Nastsies!

Directions:

1. The night before in a large pot cover the potatoes with water. Bring the water to a boil for 15-20 mins or when the potatoes are tender. Don’t over boil we are making hashed not mashed. Then refrigerate over night.

2. The next morning heat up a little butter mixed with olive oil or bacon grease in a skillet or saute pan. Grate the potatoes on the largest opening of your box grater and add the shredded potatoes to hot oil mix. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook for 5 mins. When golden divide the potatoes in quarters in the pan and flip each section carefully. Reduce heat and cook for 5mins more.

You will know when they are done when you see that golden brown goodness.

Here are a few more tips that will help. First get a good box grater. Spend a few dollars more and get one that is durable. Mine is made by Kitchen Aid.

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Maybe you have a grater or a processor that works for hash browns that’s fine. I tend to be old school about things. The main idea here is that you are going to be eating the rest of your life so these are the tools that will be with you your entire life. Buy good ones.

In the same way buy quality food. For your potatoes buy Idaho spuds. There is no better potato than an Idaho potato.

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The last bit of advise is this, get everyone involved. From the youngest to the oldest have everyone help. The best memories I have of times with family are when we all worked to make a meal. Even if you are just taking turns stirring sauce or helping set the table. Everyone will enjoy the meal more if they take part in making it.

 

May the Love of Christ be with you always….

…Live long and Prosper

 © 2013 GEEKUSEXTREMUS.COM

Out of the Frying Pan

Bilbo’s Breakfast II

0510132141aWhen Bilbo thinks of being home in his kitchen cooking bacon and eggs I understand. Nothing says home like breakfast. The smell of bacon cooking filling the house… just the thought makes me hungry.

My parents and both of my grandmothers had these huge cast iron frying pans. They were always on the stove and always filled with the most wonderful things to eat. Fried chicken, breaded pork chops, donuts and even burgers. So for me there is no other way to cook bacon than in an iron frying pan. For me this is one of those things that makes my home…my home.

This article is to help you season and maintain a cast iron frying pan. Bacon sizzling in a big old fry pan… can there be a better smell ?

Smoke Point

Have you ever burnt something in your frying pan and filled the house with smoke? your smoke  detector goes off and you throw the windows open and maybe a few doors. The smell is terrible. The pan is horribly blackened and the food is ruined. It is embarrassing but it has happened to all of us.

If you examine the food you will find that the food did not burn as badly as the pan. In fact sometimes the food even looks salvageable. What really happened is that your cooking oil reached its smoke point.

The smoke point of an oil  is the temperature at which it begins to break down to glycerol and produce bluish smoke. If you don’t get your pan off the flame the glycerol will broken down further into acrolein. It is the acrolein that causes the smoke to be extremely irritating to the eyes and throat and creates that terrible smell.

The reason you need to understand smoke point is so you can create a pan that best suits your needs. A properly seasoned cast iron fry pan is the original non-stick cook wear.

But what does it really mean to season a frying pan ?

When you first get an iron fry pan you will notice that it is extremely porous. If you use this pan without seasoning it, these pores or holes will cause your food to stick to the pan. You will have a terrible time and never want to use the pan again. Maybe you or someone you know has already had a bad experience like this. In order to get this pan to a non stick condition we are going to need to oil the pan, heat the pan up to almost the smoke point of the oil we are using,  let it cool and repeat. What will happen is that the pores is the pan will open larger when heated. Metal expands when hot. The oil will fill in these pores. When the metal cools the pores will be sealed with oil creating a non stick surface. This is healthier than any non stick surface being used today.

When you first get the pan wash it with dish soap and dry it quickly and completely. Blotting with paper towels is best. Once it is dry use a paper towel or a basting brush and apply a thin coat of oil to the exposed iron. My pan is enamel on the outside so for me it’s just the inside of the pan. There are two different methods for heating and I will explain both.

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Stove Top

If your pan is enamel on the outside like mine then oil the inside of the pan and place it on a medium flame. Keep a close watch on the pan. As it gets hot you will just see a thin wisp of smoke. It will be faint. The minute you see this remove the pan and set it on a cold burner. Let the pan completely cool the repeat. Start with another layer of oil.

If your pan is only iron then use the oven method.

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Oven

Pre-heat your oven to 75-100° less than the smoke point of your oil. If your pan is cast iron  inside and out you are going to oil it inside and out. Cover all exposed Iron. On the lower rack place a cookie sheet to catch any drips. Then lay the pan upside down on the top rack above the cookie sheet. let it bake for an hour. Remove it, let it cool, then repeat starting with the oil. Yes you can do this with your enamel pan also. Just don’t oil coat the enamel. But you knew that right ?

Repeat ?

How many times ?

Well for the stove top 7.

In the oven 3.

In order to season  a cast iron frying pan you need to use an oil that has a smoke point that is higher than the smoke point of the oil you will normally cook at. Let’s use butter as an example. Butter has a smoke point of 250-300° F. If I always fry in butter I can use any oil with a higher smoke point. I can use Virgin olive oil because it has a smoke point of 390° This means that the butter will burn before my non stick barrier breaks down in my pan. This also means that if I’m frying eggs in butter they will slide out of the pan without a spatula.

Now maybe you just want one pan to start with. The big all-purpose skillet. That is what I did. Then use an oil with the highest possible smoke point like peanut oil. Peanut oil is used in stir fry because of it high smoke point the oil doesn’t breakdown fast. Here is a list of the most common oils used and their smoke points.

Butter 250-300° F

Lard 370° F

Virgin olive oil  390°

Canola oil refined 400° F

Grape-seed oil 420°F

Corn oil refined 450° F

Peanut oil refined 450° F

Once you have seasoned your frying pan you are ready to cook up that bacon. There are all kinds of bacon and all different brands. I personally prefer hickory smoked center cut bacon. It cooks up well and has a wonderful flavor. Your home will be filed with the smell of breakfast.

If you have never cooked bacon before here are a few things you need to understand. You do not use oil or butter to cook bacon. Bacon cooks in its own drippings. Heat your pan up on medium heat and when its hot place five or six slices of bacon in the pan. As it cooks you will see grease starting to accumulate in the pan. This grease will pop and crack as new bacon is added to the pan so be careful. Some people use a bacon press to help keep the bacon from curling. These can be found in most cooking stores.

As you pull your cooked bacon out of the pan its good to place it on paper towels to absorb the grease. I usually do this on a paper plate. Once you have cooked all the bacon let the grease cool down. Once its cool you are going to collect this grease and store it.

Yes I said collect the grease. The secret to great southern cooking and to amazing bacon is saving and reusing the grease. The next time you go to cook bacon you are going to take a teaspoon of bacon grease from your grease can in the fridge. Heat that pan up with a little grease will kick-start the frying process and enhance the flavor of the bacon. Bacon grease is used in Southern cooking in everything from corn bread to pinto beans. It’s also great for frying eggses in.

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Collecting the Grease and storage

Once you finished eating, the grease in the pan will be cool but still liquid. Using a fine mesh strainer to catch the small pieces of bacon pour the grease into a storage container. Some stores carry cans as shown above, but a  glass jar with a lid will do. My father used an old coffee can. Keep it in the fridge and use as needed. I cycle mine every three months.

Cleaning and storage

Some Southern cooks will say to never wash your pan. Only to wipe it out. That a true seasoned pan is one that carries the flavor of everything that was ever cooked in it. That’s why these pans are heirlooms. I air on the side of caution. I use a little dish soap and a stiff brush with hot water. Then I dry it completely immediately. Again iron rusts fast so dab dab dab with that paper towel. Then wipe a thin coat oil over all exposed iron areas inside and out. This must be the same oil you used to season it with.

I hope you season yourself a pan and enjoy it. I love mine and use it all the time.

 

May the Love of Christ be with you always….

…Live long and Prosper

 © 2013 GEEKUSEXTREMUS.COM

Eggses! Eggses it is!

Bilbo’s Breakfast I

0510132103In the Hobbit, or There and Back Again, Tolkien uses imagery like “sleeping in his feather bed” and “cooking bacon and eggs in his own kitchen” as ways for the reader to identify with what Bilbo is feeling. When feeling less Tookish Bilbo wished to be home. Anyone who has traveled knows how it feels to be back home and sleep in their own bed again. And nothing says home like the smell of breakfast cooking.

Now most of us don’t have the time to cook breakfast from scratch on work days. But the weekends are something different. In our family we cook breakfast on our days off. It’s a tradition. Getting out of bed, still in your PJ’s, starting your day off slow and relaxed with a big Bilbo breakfast is grounding. Being around the breakfast table with loved ones is the best way to start the days of the week that are yours. And nothing says home like breakfast.

As Hobbit fans we love the idea of Bilbo’s breakfast. What would Bilbo serve to his hungry dwarf friends ? Well see how this sounds…

Whats better than eggs cooked in butter,  thick cut smoked bacon cooked crisp, homemade golden hash-browns, buttery pancakes covered in fresh maple syrup and biscuits from scratch hot out of the oven ? The only thing that could make it better is coffee fresh ground and peculated in a coffee pot on the stove.

In this series of articles we are going to teach you all the ways to cook eggs ( at least the ones we like), how to season a frying pan and cook great bacon, the best way to make home made hash-browns, an amazing pancake recipe and how to make biscuits from scratch. Plus a few other secrets you will learn as you read !

Each week we will post a new one so subscribe now !

Eggses it is! Eggses!

The best pan for making eggs is what my father called an Egg Man Pan. This  is simply a  small skillet, usually five to seven inches in diameter. Its bottom and sides are well rounded because eggs are cooked at low heat.

Eggses Scrambled :

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It a mixing bowl add one teaspoon of milk for every large egg. Whisk evenly until the egg and milk are completely blended. Never use water !  (Nasty hobbitses uses water !)

In your best egg man pan put a tablespoon of butter. On low heat melt the butter. If the butter browns your heat is to high for eggs. Mix as you pour the eggs in. With a wooden spoon drag the bottom of the pan over and over so the eggs don’t stick. When the eggs turn golden and the moisture disappears scoop them onto a plate.

Eggses… Over easy…medium…or well:

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Over easy means the whites can still be a little runny after flipping. For over easy flip eggs and count to ten. Over Medium means the whites are cooked through, but the yolk is still liquid. It just takes a couple of minutes longer after flipping the egg. Over well means that the yoke is cooked completely through.

Flipping skill :

The skill is to flip the eggs in the pan without breaking the yokes. The best way to practice is to use a slice of bread. Shake the pan with the slice of bread in it. Get it moving then try to make it flip. Once you can get it to somersault in the pan try to minimize the motion until your just doing enough to flip the bread. Remember your going to be flipping eggs.

Cooking: low heat

Add butter to your egg pan. When it melts, crack you eggs into the pan. Lift the handle  so that the eggs pool in the far corner of the pan. Hold it for a half-minute and the whites will start to set and then lower the handle. Give the pan a jiggle just to make sure there’s no sticking. Cook  until the whites become opaque. Jiggle the eggs, then lift the pan and flip the eggs over by pushing the pan away and snapping upward simultaneously. Do this away from the stove. As the eggs start their somersault, lift the pan to meet them so that you don’t break the yokes. The idea is a soft landing. So easy does it. ( Just Breath… Remember your training)

 Eggses Sunny Side Up:

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Add butter to your egg pan. When it melts, crack you eggs into the pan. Just as the eggs start turning white we are going to use our wooden spatula and gently flick some butter over the top of the edges of the egg from the bottom of the pan.  Then add a tablespoon of water to a area of the pan away from the eggs and cover the pan. The steam that is released will help cook the eggs. Keep covered a minute. Once the steam settles remove the lid.  The rest is a matter of taste. If you like your yokes runny or firm it’s up to you.

There are many ways to cook eggs. These are the ones we eat so these are the ones we write about. So if yours are not here sorry !

The secret to anything is practice. For eggs remember butter, low heat and pay attention. Practice flipping your bread. Eggs are usually the last things I cook this way they don’t get slighted. So if you do make a mistake and the yokes break or you flip and miss the pan, eggs are cheap. Clean the pan and try again. No pressure… your off today remember ?

Eggs like mashed potatoes and chicken soup are a great comfort food. Eggs remind us of home. Getting up to a home cooked breakfast is something your kids will remember. If you cook it from scratch they will remember it the rest of their lives.

Eggses is yummy ! Eats em’ eats em’ yes precious !

May the Love of Christ be with you always….

…Live long and Prosper

 © 2013 GEEKUSEXTREMUS.COM

 

 

About In A hole

DSC00664In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats – the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill – The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it – and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.

– J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

The Hobbit, more so than any other book I have ever read,  gave me a true sense of the love a person has for their home. A place in the world to call your own. The roof over your head. The place where you are safe and warm. Your comfy chair and your nice warm bed. Wishing you were in your Kitchen fixing eggs.

In the Hole is about improving our home and of course  The Hobbit.

 

May the Love of Christ be with you always….

…Live long and Prosper

 © 2013 GEEKUSEXTREMUS.COM