Posts Tagged ‘kitchen’

3 quick chicken roast tactics

January 23, 2010

Saturday. I’m writing music, using my pencil. I’m copying extensive cues from one part of a concerto for two keyboard instruments by J.S. Bach into photo copies of the second part, in preparation of a rehearsal on Monday, where I will be the only keyboardist present, and where I will have to fill the gaps left by the absent other soloist.

This act of severe retro-geekiness – writing Bach with a pencil – costs a lot of time; time I cannot spend on cooking (one may wonder where I get the time to write this blog entry). In anticipation of all this, I bought a whole organic fresh chicken (these things are possible in Southampton. I’m still amazed). Preparing a Chicken roast goes fast, and you don’t have to stand and chop and stir all the time. But even here, most of the talk is about how to fill the gaps, or rather, the chickeny hollows. (more…)


red cabbage and chestnuts

December 5, 2009

To explain why I ended up combining chestnuts (Wikipedia wants me to call them sweet chestnuts or marrons with 2 “r” or, in American, Spanish chestnuts; all in order to avoid confusing them with lesser, inedible kinds) and red cabbage, I will first introduce my childhood red cabbages. At home, red cabbage contained a few cloves, perhaps bay leaves, allspice, in fancy moments some apples, and some smoked pork of the bacony kind. I sort-of liked red cabbage but it was certainly not my ultimate favorite.

At the age of four, I learned to be careful with food away from home: The kitchen of the Weberhof on the island Juist (at the time best described as a seaside vacation kindergarten, where I was supposed to have fun while my parents went on an old-instrument museum trip), bluntly introduced me to the culinary side of homesickness (my present addiction to home-cooking may still be a late compensation for the loneliness of those four weeks).

Regarding North-German red cabbage, there was every reason for my reluctance: (more…)

kitchen gadgets of doom

October 19, 2009

My flat in the UK, a new temporary post-doc-studies accommodating asset, is furnished, which includes pots and pans and things in the kitchen. Most of these are new or at least clean. Only the oven, split into a baking and a grilling compartment, has seen way too many moons and could apparently not be cleaned any more. I am looking forward to a 19th century-style ur-British day of coal mining one day. For now, I’m happy to consider here the various things I am renting.

First, there is the scooper. This is a bent slotted spoon made from heat-resistant black plastic, apparently, or hopefully, used for scooping up sausages from their greasy bath. The plumber, who came after a week to fix a leaking tap, forgot his keys behind the wooden panel in front of the bathtub and used the scooper to retrieve them. (more…)

the kitchen of statenlaan 119

February 13, 2008

I began to cook my own meals in the kitchen of one of the houses with student rooms that the Royal Conservatory of the Hague maintained around 1980.

The house (also featured in this entry) had three kitchens, each of which was shared by six or seven music students. While on the other side of the wall someone was nervously stuttering through Schumann’s first piano sonata on his battered Bechstein Grand, interrupted by frequent nicotine- and espresso-fill-up silences, I battled to find out how a slice of pork behaved when fried at various temperatures, how rice was best kept from sticking, how to prepare bean chili or a new-agey veggie all-in-one-pan with rice, nuts, raisins, chopped dried apricots and curry powder. Others had other pastimes. (more…)

green (soft. mushy.) boiled vegetables

January 17, 2008

Hervé This-Benckard, also mentioned on this blog, combines the art of cooking and chemistry. I have here a German translation of his Les secrets de la casserole. Most enlightening is his explanation why green vegetables should be boiled in much, lively boiling, water and without a lid. Note: this recommendation is entirely the opposite of what <fill in favorite term> have told their daughters for centuries. (more…)

kitchen gadgets you never knew you needed III

December 19, 2007

Robin grew up in Virginia and she introduced what she and her family calls regular tongs in my kitchen. I use them for outdoor grilling and I thought that I never needed another pair of tongs.

Then Robin got a cast-iron wok, and with it came a pair of bamboo forceps. I got into the habit of using these for getting hold of the occasional warped bit of bread that gets stuck in the toaster (I don’t appreciate having to run down to turn on the main power switch again, every time I try to retrieve a piece of bread by using my fork). Of course the glue line between the bamboo parts was faulty and broke after a few weeks. Because I am a lazy workshop person, I never got around to flattening the surfaces properly, heating a pot of hide glue and re-assembling the parts. Instead I came across a pair of 28cm long heat-resistant plastic tongs at the local store.

For a kitchen item that was impulse-bought because of my unfocused laziness, they are having a glorious career. They still do reside on top of the toaster for the sake of convenience, but I use them for about anything in the kitchen. Breading fish or Wienerschnitzel, turning hamburgers, tuna chunks or chicken bits, tasting stew, removing bay leaves, lemon grass or bones from a stock, and stirring pretty much everything that needs stirring. No idea what I did before I got these.

kitchen gadgets you never knew you needed II

December 19, 2007

Five years ago I bought a milk frother, since I decided not to have a proper espresso machine with a foam nozzle. It was made, or rather, labelled and distributed, by a well-established Swedish brand, it had gotten good reviews for perfect foam and a good price-device relationship, and it worked well until it, 2 months after the warranty had expired, expired too with a scratch, a fizz and a bleep.

So I bought another one and took an effort to handle it extra carefully. It behaved exactly like the first one: perfect foam for a blissful while and then an unannounced exit from this world. I e-mailed the customer service of the firm, mentioned the exact nature of the problem (the motor’s collector gets damaged through normal use and cannot be accessed for repairs) and within days I got a third frother sent home for free. This summer, it quietly joined the others. Now I bought another frother, this time by a German fancy design brand. Let’s see how this one survives. It foams better, the motor makes less noise and it stands all by itself on the counter.

Why do I persist in wanting milk frothers? Because they are great. For someone who had his early milk-frothing training using a cheap and coarse wire brush in a battered aluminium pan, they are the symbol of coffee culture luxury.

kitchen gadgets you never knew you needed I

December 19, 2007

I encounter ever more recipes where the pepper is to be crushed with a knife handle. Okay, so we want freshly and coarsely ground pepper – I appreciate this. I also want my knife handles and cutting boards undented, and I hate cutting myself during the effort of preventing everything from slipping and rolling about. Ordinary pepper mills have improved from worthless-as-a-rule (25 years ago) to pretty reliable (if you can afford them) – but they don’t provide the knife-handle-crushed pepper that make mushrooms in butter and many other creations a real success.

In Sweden, I got hold of one of Skeppshult’s most archaic products, a two-piece cast-iron tooth-meets-tooth mortar which has served me well for sixteen years. While the teeth have worn down to match the advanced age of the device, the pepper-crushing works as fine as on the first day. The only impractical feature is the large cork stop for the pepper reservoire, which tends to crumble and becomes difficult to uncork. I will fit a handle on mine, which shouldn’t be too difficult.

This is easily the most used gadget in my kitchen, apart from the 24-cm frying pan.