Follow me down the rabbithole

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

East meets west...and chaos ensues

I grew up on the right coast, somewhere about the middle.  New Jersey, to be exact.  I have very fond memories of the 60's and even into the early 70's of the beaches, being in the water, down the shore.  The pines were vast, silent, creepy expanses of possibility.  Atlantic City, Salt Water Taffy, the concrete boat, Lucy the Elephant...boardwalks, tram cars, diving horses, pork roll sandwiches...

All amalgamated into that East coast lump inside my head.  And that stuff is bottom layer, foundational concrete, unshakable, immutable, solid.

So why is it that whenever I try something that I used to do with ease back east is such a shitstorm out here?

Let's talk BREAKFASTS - at whatever time of the day that we eat breakfast foods.  Like 9 PM.

Making jelly.  Never measured, just poured off and watched, and knew when it was right.  Made gallons of grape jelly, apple jelly, you name it jelly.  Easy peasy.  Paraffin seals?  Snap.

Fast forward to Oregon.  Jelly doesn't.  Jell that is.  It's soft and squooshy...kind of crawls away from the knife when spreading it is attempted.  Tastes decently, but it's not jelly.  And whenever I pour over the paraffin tends to leak.  GRRR.

Baking anything.  I understand, new ovens, learning the timing, increasing or decreasing things according to that oven's quirks - hot spots... but Great Caesar's Ghost-I have been here for 6 years!  Either the damn thing is possessed, or I have to relearn everything I ever knew about cooking.

I am becoming convinced that I need to adjust for altitude.  In New Jersey, I baked at what was said to be the highest point south of Trenton - the high point of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.  The Gibbsboro Radar Station was placed there for that reason, at the commanding height of 63 feet above sea level.

Phoenix Oregon is listed at 1,543 feet in elevation.  How much difference can 1500 feet up make?  Although the sites I have been looking at generally invoke high altitude at 3000 feet or so - it is easy enough to make tweaks to perfect the technique out here.  Lower the amount of yeast.  That one I would not have thought of.

Higher altitude means lower air pressure.  Means bread will rise faster and farther with less gas.  Fewer hungry yeastybeasties means less gas, but the gas that they do produce will be much gassier.  A double rise was suggested.  Meh. More liquid.  ABSOLUTELY!  Reduce sugar -again -less fermentation needed,,,

OK.  That all makes sense.  But why are eggs so hard to scramble out here?  What is in east coast eggs that makes them integrate completely when assiduously whisked?  Whites and yolks create a creamy, frothy eggy colored liquid that pours into a hot pan without separating and sliming... what is up with all that nasty slime, western eggs???  Western egg whites NEVER cease to resemble snot until they are within 14 seconds of becoming vulcanized rubber.  Gross.

Bagels are explained by source material.  No one out here makes bagels.  They make hard outercrusted doughy donut shaped baked bready products that do an adequate job of supporting cream cheese...but they ain't bagels.  And if you need to ask me what salt water possibly has to do with bagels - you never ate a bagel.

Sausage with biscuits and gravy - This one I have been cheating with - I have made decent gravy over those frig biscuits.  I'll go back to my own biscuits later this winter.

Pancakes.  What in the 7 hells is KRUSTEZE?  or KRUSTEEZ - or whateverthehell that box says here...

They obviously have no idea just how fundamentally UGLY that combination of letters is.


It doesn't automatically say its name when you read it - you have to stop and sound it out a couple of different ways.

And some of those ways are downright UNFORTUNATE when linked with a food product.

First of all - it does say it is crusty.  That's what scratched-open bug bite wounds became back in the day.  Crusty.  

Then there is that warning in the middle.   R-U-S-T

To me - rust means that fungus that infects grains - and especially ergot on rye.  So now we have a crusty pancake that might cause you to hallucinate more than morning rush hour can.

The name ends with a z.  That's horrible.  In that font, that z at the end could be LOTS of letters - like... KRUSTEAL - great.  It's either blue, purloined, or both.

If bleary morning eyes read the logo with a t - we sit down to break our fast with KRUS TEAT.  A crusty tit.  BLEAH.

Out west - we get blue, stolen crusty wounded tits with hallucinogenic properties to pour maple syrup over.

Pumpkin Spice Flavor.

Of such does great despair spring.   Or a preference for Scotch Eggs in the AM.  Hell Yeah.

I bid you Memento Vitae!