Eclipse 2024

In the end, everything worked out as planned and hoped. In my first viewing of a total solar eclipse, the food was great the the weather perfect! Huzzah!

2017’s eclipse

It was also surprisingly scary. I know the event isn’t actually a harbinger of doom, but I didn’t expect it to look quite that creepy, with the moon just appearing next to the sun and turning black. An existential moment of personal insignificance.

Anyway, here’s some pics:

You can sort of see a missing bite
Binocular projection
I thought this was a neat screenshot of an augmented reality overlay
Another shot through the filter
Unfiltered and bad auto focus
Party in progress with some apparently needed booty dancing

Last year at this time Canada was on fire and the ashes rained down as a blight upon the land. I like this year better!

–Simon

Kurabuta

So this is a cool random discovery.

Pork is an interesting meat. In my experience it’s often dry and funky. And there’s a variety of cultural reasons for and confirmations of this:

  • Trichinosis – a parasite that develops in pigs when they’re used as garbage disposals. Killing the parasite requires cooking pork to temperatures that make it dry.
  • Pigs fed garbage diets develop of funky flavor.
  • Heavy seasoning is often employed to mask funky flavors (brine, sausage, smoke).
  • Marketing pigs to the mass consumer population led to the development of streamlined pig diets that reduce funky flavor and trichinosis. This also led to pig meat becoming less fatty in nature, but with less fat the meat dries out even quicker.
  • People were slow to change their cooking habits to account for trichinosis elimination and drier meat.

Ergo – the pork we’re used to now is either heavily processed or very dry and lacking depth of flavor.

Then I discovered kurabuta pork!

Perusing the meat cooler at my local upscale grocer, I noticed what appeared to be beef due to its deep red color, but in the form of pork shoulder chops. Fortunately the internet was available in my pocket and revealed the mystery: a specialty breed of pig fed a non-grain diet. Free-range/grass-fed or something to that effect.

It’s juicy and meaty in flavor.

The pork revolution is at hand! Keep an eye out for this stuff. Down with boomer pork!

–Simon

Canine Yuckies

A dogger does love a stinky treat. So for a minor project I fried up the salmon skin from the Lox.

They are smelly to the point of nauseating, and apparently so delectable to a furry carnivore that their odor induced uncontrollable salivation onto the kitchen floor. Fantastic. The price of being a dog dad.

–Simon

Vernal Anticipations

Spring is coming, and to celebrate I smoked a salmon! This time, I used quick cure (the kind I make bacon with – the one with sodium nitrate) instead of plain salt for the brine.

Few fish preparations are as tasty as Nova Lox – brined, cold-smoked salmon. On a bagel. It’s also something that can be closely replicated at home! I don’t technically cold-smoke, since I don’t have that equipment and don’t want to rig something up. Cold-smoking is technically done around 80 degrees, but you can’t generate smoke at that temp so you have to create hot smoke and then cool it before it touches the fish.

Or, you can smoke at a temperature just high enough – say 150 – on very cold fish that’s only barely fully thawed. Combined with the brine, it’s juicy and salty, and the sodium nitrate preserves the bright orange-pink color. Cooked to an internal temperature of 130 (I deep-froze it to -40 beforehand to make it safe for “raw” consumption), then cooled, it’s a damn close facsimile to true Lox. It made for a nice faux-spring day.

–Simon

Hocus Crocus

I have a fondness for crocuses (…croci?). They are the first of the perennials to bloom in the spring, and they were always out in the yard at the Lubbock house, so childhood nostalgia there. They represent the first marker of seasonal change with a dramatic splash of color – a much appreciated change from the brown and grey winter, and they do so at the most needed moment: the heart of suicide month (or at least they do now anyway, what with climate change and all).

They also indicate a phenologic marker! Time to plant radishes. We don’t really eat many radishes, but as the first cold-weather crop that can be grown, I plant them for the sake of planting them.

Also, the crocus bulbs are planted on the whippet graves, so there’s a bit of an “awwww” factor as the blooms remind me of dogs past. Rest in peace, you naughty dogs.

So here’s some pics to celebrate and mark the occasion, as well as honor late canines!

Historically, daffodils will be next.

–Simon