It feels like we’re well into Summer here in Memphis. I’ve made two fires to cook stuff over and I can’t stop sweating. Wearing a bag when I bike leaves me with a drenched back and on Saturday I switched shirts three times. Still, I wouldn’t trade it for any day in winter!
You may also know (or want to know?) that we got married!
And we bought a house!
Having a house feels really great, and I can’t wait for us to plant a garden! The kitchen is really great but for aesthetic reasons I’d like to redo the cabinetry and countertops. Time and money, money and time.
Back to Food
We don’t own a grill, yet, but that doesn’t deter me from cooking over fire. If you’ve got an oven you’ve got a grill grate. If you’ve got a shovel or a couple bricks, you’ve got all you need to start cooking outside. This past week’s installation of “What Kind of Makeshift Grill Can I Assemble” was 3 stones placed upright with a leftover grill grate I found in the backyard. Fire purifies everything so I wasn’t worried at all about that grill grate. When we lived in Springfield I dug a small hole in the backyard and built fires in that, lying the oven rack over the top for grilling purposes! You don’t need to drop hundreds of dollars on some fancy ass grill, just make one. Use sticks you find lying around to build it up, grass clippings to spark it, be inventive, have fun, and use cast iron over an open flame!
Pictured below are some pre-cooked black beans mixed with a dried chili, oregano, salt, pepper, onion, and local cherry tomato. That corn is local too, nothing special there, just thrown straight on the grill. I’ve had good luck with soaking whole corn shucks in water overnight before grilling like this, adds some nice steam to the cooking process. Otherwise, if you’re looking to do any sort of hearty root vegetables I’d recommend par-boiling or par-cooking those first. Things like potatoes don’t fair too well on a hot, hot grill. They’ll tend to burn on the outside with no tenderness inside.
Also aluminum foil can be your friend here. It’s not shown but I wrapped up some cabbage in olive oil, salt & pepper, and added that to the grill near the end. It was amazingly tender and flavorful. Cooking over direct heat is such a damn joy!
Lastly, I finally pulled a couple decent loaves! After our trip to New York I came back with some Farmer Ground half-white flour and tried making loaves out of that. Each time, perhaps my hydration was too high or the flour a bit dull, I never got much life out of it. The gluten didn’t want to develop and I’d end up with these sloppy, wet masses that I couldn’t do much with. On Saturday I ran into the folks behind St. Honore bakery here in Memphis and chatted for a bit about sourdough so I knew I needed to just get back to basics and get a good loaf. I grabbed some Bob’s Red Mill all purpose flour and had a tiny bit of Central Milling Type 85 leftover, with a 65% hydration I made two beautiful looking loaves. It feels good to be in our home now and getting back to a regular schedule!