here fishy fishy

As part of my paleo diet experiment, I’ve also been taking a lot of fish oil pills. By “a lot” I mean 10g — that is, 10x 1000mg — pills per day. Of course, before I started, I did what any sane person does these days: pseudo-research on the internet, reading random websites and taking blind stabs at the truth.

The Mayo Clinc’s opinion on fish oil safety says:

Omega-3 fatty acids may increase the risk of bleeding, although there is little evidence of significant bleeding risk at lower doses. Very large intakes of fish oil/omega-3 fatty acids (“Eskimo” amounts) may increase the risk of hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke. High doses have also been associated with nosebleed and blood in the urine. Fish oils appear to decrease platelet aggregation and prolong bleeding time, increase fibrinolysis (breaking down of blood clots), and may reduce von Willebrand factor.

I do believe we need to introduce the phrase “Eskimo amounts” into the popular lexicon. As in, “Brah, get thee to a clinic! Do you have any idea how many other people your hookup from last night [man-]slutted around with? Eskimo amounts!”

But that’s neither here nor there. Continuing onward, UC Berkeley’s Wellness Letter says:

Large doses of fish oil supplements have potential side effects that include nausea, diarrhea, belching, and a bad taste in the mouth. Large doses of fish oil can also increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, suppress the immune system, and decrease glucose control in people with diabetes.

Bah! Why waste time on the intarwebs when my good friend Jess, a soon-to-be Registered Dietician, can give me free, personalized advice? She wrote:

Do an experiment with the bottle you have and go big until it’s gone. See what happens. Give it a couple days to get into your system. You can’t really overdose on fish oil. If you are taking huge doses and get a deep cut, you might not clot as well.

I love that — “experiment on yourself! you can’t overdose! but… maybe stay away from sharp objects…” Did I mention the advice was free?

Well, of course, I trust Jess’s common sense folk-wisdom based on… I’m not really sure… over some random page on the intartron, so go big I did. That’s what friends do — trust each other. “Check out this jawesome wombat-page, it’s so sweet!” “Gnnaaaak! Stop sending me pictures of that octopus eating a cat!”

And finally, we learn from the WSJ that fish oil may prevent schizophrenia. Bonus!

Researchers in the new study identified 81 people with warning signs of psychosis, including sleeping much more or less than usual, growing suspicious of others, believing someone is putting thoughts in their head or believing they have magical powers. Forty-one were randomly assigned to take four fish oil pills a day for three months. The other patients took dummy pills.

After a year of monitoring, 2 of the 41 patients in the fish oil group, or about 5%, had become psychotic, or completely out of touch with reality. In the placebo group, 11 of 40 became psychotic, about 28%.

I love that the journalist clarifies that to be psychotic is to be “completely out of touch with reality”. By that definition, I know many psychotic people. They typically make product schedules and expect engineering staff to adhere to them.

In other news, I am sleeping more, am quite skeptical of Obama’s budget plan, and have been listening to a lot of NPR lately. On the other hand, I’ve always thought that I’ve had magical powers, such as the ability to eat 10g of fish oil per day without diarrhea or belching.

YMMV.

mas comidas

jamonador

Slicing a sliver of delicioso.

chocolate con churros

Traditional Spanish breakfast: a full cup of chocolate with churros. No, I also don’t know why the entire country hasn’t died of diabetes yet.

navajas

madre corniz

Absolutely delightful.

chirrup!

Beep!

Back for a few days and I’m already missing eating tapas for every meal.

hungrygrrl

I’ve been reading a friend’s foodie blog ever since Potlatch last year, and now I’m passing it along to you, dear readers.

You get a taste of Seattle and the lovely understated writing of a poet’s whispered observations.

But there’s also flair:

My halibut paled in comparison, but it wasn’t really fair. The halibut came over fava beans with a delicate white wine sauce. It was like Gwyneth Paltrow in a white linen dress trying to compete with Angelina Jolie in crushed velvet.

[as compared to a lamb chop cooked to perfection: (fresh bistro)]

Check it out.

elysian + new belgium = yay

Life has its own synchronocity — New Belgium and Elysian breweries to cross-brew beer at each other’s breweries.

I just visited Elysian last week, and sampled some of their jasmine infused IPA. It was deliciously quirky, and a good second place to my most favourite of all beers, Odell’s IPA.

As a fan of New Belgium’s business practices (but not so much their beers), I’m hoping Elysian can make improvements on the taste of NBB beers. But in any case, it’s nice to see good things happening in the micro/craft brewing scene.

bourbon pecan ham

I experimented with ham last night, my first one, and used this bourbon pecan ham recipe. It was a huge success, and the nice part was, I didn’t really need to modify the recipe at all. About the only thing I would suggest is that 325 is a bit low, and takes much longer than 10-12 minutes per pound.

Probably start at 350, with the ham covered and on a roasting rack. Keep an eye on the temperature using your trusty meat thermometer. Once the internal temp reaches 120 or so, you’re probably good to go. Put the glaze on, put the ham back in the oven, crank the heat up to 400, and you’ll be done in about 20-30 minutes. Just mind the temperature — you don’t want the ham getting much hotter than 130.

Sorry, no pics for this one.

$92 paella

I alluded to making paella a few posts ago. I used this seafood paella recipe, and it came out delicious. I’ll save you some time of reading through the comments by telling you the modifications I used for extra jawesomeness:

  • add one pound spicy chorizo and/or andoulllie sausage. Cook it like you would the chicken, and set it aside (just like the chicken).
  • double the amount of garlic and saffron
  • use arborio rice, not long-grain crap
  • instead of pimientos, just use roasted red peppers
  • only need one bottle of clam juice
  • omit peas
  • add crushed tomatoes
  • for the clams, use littleneck clams

As far as cooking instructions go, definitely do not put the seafood in for 45 minutes. Rather, put the shrimp. squid, and scallops in during the last 5-10 minutes of the baking stage. You’ll know it’s done when the shrimp turn pink.

After you put the soft seafood into the pan, you can then sautee the clams and mussels in a garlic, butter, white wine concoction. Shouldn’t take very long — maybe a few minutes at best. The shells are done when they open up. Add them to the pan and serve hot.

turkey 2006 = huge success

Last year, I made my first turkey. The turkey itself came out pretty good, but as I noted in the blog posting, the gravy was weak and watery. It took about 2 hours of reducing to get it to thicken up, due to lack of enough roux.

This year, we tried again with another early Thanksgiving. I wanted to try a new recipe, so I found this one: Sherry’s German Turkey, which I used to prepare our 20 lb. bird (another behemoth). The one thing I changed in the recipe was to add an overnight brining step. This required purchasing the largest pot I’ve ever seen in my life — a 21 quart monstrosity, and I wasn’t sure the shelves in my fridge were going to be able to handle the weight, but everything held up.

(edit: Jenny tells me that not everyone knows what brining is. The short story is: rub salt all over the inside and outside of the carcass and then cover the entire bird with water. Add more salt to the water, and then let it sit overnight. For a 20 lb. bird, maybe 1/2 cup to 1 full cup of salt is the right amount. Some recipes call for kosher salt or sea salt, but any salt will do. The next day when you’re ready to cook, dump all the salty water out and rinse the existing salt off the bird. Now begin whatever recipe you’re following.)

The recipe calls for soul food seasoning, which took me a while to figure out (actually, kudos to my coworker Matt who teased out the correct ingredients with his google-fu). To save you the same trouble (and because you probably don’t know Matt): soul food seasoning recipe.

After brining the bird, I followed the recipe to a tee. The combination of the brining, the bacon, and the orange resulted in a deliciously moist bird, and I received compliments on it all night long.

Fixing the gravy debacle of last year was similarly easy, using this Easy Turkey Gravy recipe. When you use an oven bag, all the juices stay inside the bag until you’re done roasting. That’s not a problem with this recipe…

When you take the bird out of the oven, it has to rest for 15-20 minutes anyhow before you start carving it. This is plenty of time to make the gravy. Cut the bag away from the bird and throw it away; this will obviously cause all the drippings to flood into the bottom of the roasting pan. Your hardest task will be transferring the juices from the roasting pan into a cooking pot. You can do it the slow, safe way by siphoning it out with a baster, or you be more risky by enlisting a helper. As you tilt the pan over the pot and pour the juices in, the helper plays “D” by holding the turkey in place and not letting it fall out, which would result in unmitigated disaster. You can probably get 90% of the juice out in 30 seconds this way, and get the remaining 10% using the baster.

The juices should come to a boil pretty quickly since they’re already hot. A 20 lb. turkey will create a lot more than 5 or 6 cups of drippings, so I basically doubled the recipe, using 2 cans of soup, twice the seasonings, and twice the milk and flour. It should take a lot less than 15 minutes to dump all the ingredients in and mix them up, and when you’re done, you’ll have a beautifully thick, savory “home made” gravy with only a little bit of cheating. Of course, your guests should be doing their part at this point, getting sauced and enjoying themselves, while not noticing your indiscretion, so no one will be the wiser.

Last year, I anticipated a few years of stumbling around until I finally figured out how to make a turkey that everyone would enjoy, believing this learning process to be a part of manhood and what eventually makes one into a good dad. I’m gonna go out on a limb though, and say that in my 2nd year, I’ve pretty much found the winning combination that I will use until I die (let’s say some time in 2053). The only point of deviation will occur if I ever purchase a deep fat fryer, in which case I’ll obviously be trying to make a fried turkey. Maybe if we ever get laser beam cookers or something else crazy in the future, I’d try that too. But as long as I cook turkeys with conventional oven technology, I’ll be using the notes from this blog post to do so.

All in all, we fed about 25 people, all of whom brought their own delicious sides and desserts for a great time. I believe a Fort Collins tradition is taking root.

bbq delight

One of my favorite activities in life is grilling. There are few things as viscerally satisfying as heating meat over an open flame and then devouring it moments later. Of course, in this day and age, some silly humans have decided that they want to eat some vegetables too, and so we must satisfy them. With that in mind, I present a delectable spread of some tasty bbq treats.

Main Ingredients

  • package of chicken legs (drumsticks)
  • red pepper
  • mushrooms (criminis are really good, but you can use whatever type you prefer)
  • garlic heads
  • couscous (optional)

Seasonings

  • 1 egg
  • bread crumbs
  • soy sauce
  • olive oil
  • cooking sherry
  • salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, brown sugar

Tools

  • baster
  • tin foil
  • grill

Prepare the chicken legs first. Ideally, you want to marinate them for a half day to 24 hours, but you can get by on little as 45 minutes. Remove them from the store packaging and give them a rinse to clean them off. Next, place them into something big and flat — I prefer to use a Pyrex baking pan (kinda like the 13″ x 9″ thing you use for brownies). Drizzle soy sauce and sherry over the legs, enough so that the bottoms of the legs are sitting in about 5 millimeters of liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and then add on a very sparse coating of brown sugar. Rotate the legs so that the side with the marinade is turned upwards, and season with salt, pepper, and brown sugar again. Cover the entire pan (using Saran wrap or similar) and let it sit in your fridge. Half way through your marinading time (ie, 6 hrs if you can spend a half day or 20 minutes if you only have 45 minutes), rotate the legs again.

Closer to actual grilling time, you’ll want to prep the veggies. Rinse the mushrooms and set them aside. Break one egg into a bowl and beat it like a red-headed stepchild (ie, as if you were making a scrambled egg). Place bread crumbs into another bowl. Proceed to bread the mushrooms up by dipping them in egg, and then rolling them around in the bread crumbs. Place the breaded mushies aside.

Next, rinse the red pepper and cut it in half. Rip off a piece of tin foil that is big enough to wrap the red pepper half, and place the pepper on it. Drizzle olive oil onto both the outside and the inside of the half, and spread it evenly with your fingers. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste. Wrap up each half and set them aside.

Last are the garlic heads. We’re gonna make roasted garlic, which is delightfully easy and super tasty. Cut off the top of the head such that you’re lopping off the top 1/4 of each clove. Drizzle olive oil over the exposed cloves. Your hands will probably be covered in oil, so go ahead and rub the outsides of the garlic heads to give them a thin coat of oil as well. Tear off a small piece of foil — enough to give each garlic head a little tin foil hat such that it covers up the cloves.

Ok, the prep work is done. The next step is crucial — crack open a beer and start drinking. In the summer months, I prefer something light and hoppy, such as Deschutes Brewery Mirror Pond or O’Dell’s 5 Barrel.

Heat up the grill to medium heat and put the garlic heads onto the top level. Wait about 10 minutes, and then put the red pepper halves on the top level, rounded concave side down. After another 5 minutes go ahead and lay all the drumsticks on the bottom level of the grill. The key is to keep a nice medium heat — not too hot or else the chicken will get burned, and not too low or else you’ll be there forever. After about 10 minutes, go ahead and turn each drumstick. Use your baster and squirt the marinade over the chicken. At this time, you can put the mushrooms on the top level as well.

After another 10 minutes are up, you can rotate the drumsticks as necessary to even up the cooking. Each leg should have a very nice browning at this point. The chicken should be totally cooked after a total of 25 minutes from the time you put them on the grill, and everything else will be done too. Of course, you should cut into a leg or two to check to see that they are actually done. Hopefully, they are super juicy and tender, and not burned. The mushrooms will definitely be done, but the breading will not turn golden brown as if they were fried. Don’t worry, they’re gonna be good.

(5 minutes before you pull everything off the grill, you can optionally start some couscous if you feel that you must have a starch with your meal.)

Now you’re ready to enjoy your feast. Go ahead and take the tin foil hats off the garlic heads and unwrap the peppers, being sure to savor the juices running out. Eating is obviously self-explanatory, but for those who haven’t grilled or roasted garlic before, a suave way to get the cloves out of the head is to place the head on a hand towel, and cup the entire thing in your hand. Then, gently squeeze your hand together and cloves should start popping out of the head. They’ll still be garlicky-flavored (obviously) but the grilling/roasting will caramelize them and turn them sweetish. Eat them plain or use them to season whatever else you want in the spread. Yum!

Celebrate in your manliness.