Save the Cheese! Help Estrella Family Creamery

There are very few brands I am passionate enough about to devote a blog post to, and even fewer that, upon receiving an email about saving, I will hop out of bed and compose a blog post about at 6:45 in the morning. The cheese from Estrella Family, however, does inspire such things. Estrella Family Creamery makes my favorite cheese(s) in the world.

As many of you know, the FDA is working hard to shut Estrella Family Creamery down and they have been unable to sell their cheese for quite some time. This is tragic, not only because I have to live without the incomparable Caldwell Crik Chevrette, but because it is indicative of what government agencies are attempting to do to great cheese-makers around the country. Washington has already lost too many great cheeses to ridiculous regulations, and I refuse to let the best cheese I’ve ever had go down to government regulations to. So people, I implore you, please help me and help Estrella to SAVE THE CHEESE!

How? Well, funny you should ask. First and most, attend their Small Farms: Saving our National Treasures event on February 26th, from 11-4, in Woodinville. For more info, click here. This is a free event, with raffles and auctions to support the farm, as well as speakers leading a discussion in the hopes to solve the issues plaguing Estrella and so many other farms.

If you aren’t local, I still hope that at some point you’ve been able to taste Estrella’s magical cheese, and if so (or not) and you’d like to help, Donations to aid the Estrella family can be made at Pledgie.com. Donations are not tax-deductible for federal or state tax purposes.

If you’d like more information about Estrella and what has happened with them, see this blog, set up by a friend of theirs.

 

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Carlos eats the Quadstrocity

Last night I met Carlos. He was a very cool guy and had recently (six hours prior) completed a task both ridiculous and amazing.

–Side note: Guys, this is gross. Grandma, stop reading. I’ll get you a nice post on a Guatemalan restaurant soon–

He ate a doubled up double down. What is that? You may have read about the Double Down–a sandwich where the bread is replaced by fried chicken, enveloping bacon and cheese. So Carlos, my new buddy over here put two together, called it the Quadstrocity and ate it.

Isn’t the buzz about this stupid sandwich over? You might wonder. Probably. So why am I posting this? I think this video actually demonstrates just how awful KFC and the like can be for you. As B said, after watching this “Really, that is kind of how all fast food makes you feel”

“My kidneys really hurt” was his biggest complaint when we asked him how he felt afterwards. Of course, by the time we saw him, he seemed to have recovered nicely and moving on to higher quality beer than the PBR he consumes in the video. If you don’t fee like watching, you can see below where I outline some highlights. In actuality it took him about 17 minutes to eat the sandwich, luckily the video is only around ten minutes, because I’m not sure it’s healthy to watch much longer than that.

Highlights:

-Early on he gets some chicken in his beard. I like that his fiance waits until 7:12 to inform him that it’s there
-00:52 His fiance can be heard in the background talking about looking for a bucket for him to throw up in
-Carlos quote “I think at least 3 of the 11 spices are salt!”
-2:52 Hiccups begin. These will plague him well into the 7th minute, making everything much more difficult
-3:45 Less than 4 minutes of eating it and he begins to shiver
-At the 5 minute mark he starts to pull the sandwich apart, ostensibly to show you the inside. I think it was a stalling technique. He looks to be in pain
-5:46 He declares that bacon is now a PROBLEM when he runs into it. This is an overturning of all food philosophy. I think it is because the ‘bacon’ in question has no semblance to actual salted pork product.
-6:05 His burps begin to seem scarily like there is food coming up with the air
-7:48 Starts to look more likely he’ll throw up
-8:00 His fiance points out “You don’t technically have to consume it” His articulate response: “eraugh” in a pained voice
-9:40 Carlos quote”I think I have some in my lungs”

He also mentioned at one point his jaw popped out of place.

You can find Carlos on the interwebs via his Twitter account to congratulate, chastise or just generally harass him. Thanks to Carlos for agreeing to let me repost his video!

Like Comparing Apples, and, well, Apples

I have always thought I didn’t like apples. They’d be the last thing on a table I’d eat. If I were hungry and there were only apples, I’d wait. Not that I thought they were gross, I just didn’t like them. Today, that changed.

I liked an apple. It was juicy, but without being messy and drippy like a peach. It was crunchy, but not so hard that it hurt my gums to bite into. There was no evidence of that awkward mealiness when an apple is on the verge of going bad.

“So what,” I hear you say. “Its a freakin’ apple. People have liked apples for hundreds (thousands? I’m not up on my apple history) of years.” But that is not my point.

My point is all those people who “don’t like” certain foods, who recoil when you mention that there might be a bit of mustard in their salad dressing or whatever, they refuse to get near the food. These are the same people who pretend their dislikes are allergies, as Ruhlman discussed here. There minds are made up, and I want them changed

Maybe, just maybe, these dislikes are like mine of apples. And in the right place and the right time, they will bite into that delicious bit of mustard (or whatever) that changes their feelings.

Now the world is my apple, and I’m ready to bite!

Make Your Own Salt

Homespun Salt

Homespun Salt

I don’t think I’d do half the culinary experiments I do if B wasn’t all together so damn supportive. And by supportive, I mean that he has the same ridiculous ideas I do, but knows that he can convince me to do them so he doesn’t have to. Which would be how we found ourselves on the shores of Puget Sound on the Olympic Peninsula with two growlers full of salt water.

We had been watching Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie, a fantastic show, which you can watch online at the Gourmet website. It was all about sea salt and Sichuan peppercorns. Holy food porn up my alley, Batman, ya know? I was drooling. Part of it was a story on a guy who made his own salt from ocean water at his pub in England. They showed him down at the water, with a bucket full of water, walked you through the process of making it. I looked across the couch to B. We had to be on the peninsula the next day anyways…Wheels turning, ideas forming…Sure enough, the growlers were packed for the next morning.

How does it taste? Well, I’ll be honest, it tastes like salt. It is not crystals of salt, like what they sell in stores as “sea salt,” its more like little flakes. I would say that it is better than your average kosher salt, but not quite as good as the branded “sea salt” you can buy. However, given that it was free, required almost no work at all and will impress all your friends, I would reccomend this method highly.

How to Make Salt from Sea Water

Get your salt water: we used one gallon (two growlers) and came up with one spice canister full of salt.

Strain the saltwater–we used three layers of cheesecloth to make sure that nothing got through, into a large pot. Bring it to a boil and just let it boil away, evaporating all the water. Towards the end, we found that it was getting very splattery and messy, so we took it off the stove and spread the salt on a silpat and left it in the sun for a day. Technically, you can just let it boil til all the water is gone, but, if like us, you have a small pot and it is getting salt everywhere, the sun drying method works well for the last bit–it was already nearly evaporated, like a thick paste texture.

The Death of a Pig: Warning–Graphic Pictures

I said it in the title, and I’ll say it again, because I know there are vegetarians who read this blog and I don’t want to be responsible for them seeing things that they don’t want to see. If you eat meat and you don’t want to see this, I’ll be honest with you, you are a hypocrite. You eat the meat from these animals, you should know what they go through to become your food. 

Helen shortly before her demise

Helen shortly before her demise

Helen was the name of the pig we were killing yesterday. She seemed sweet, but they had fed her a fair amount of alcohol before we sent her on her way, and don’t most girls seem sweeter with some booze in them?

 

Dipping the pig for de-hairing
After shooting the pig, then draining the blood for making blood sausage, Mark, above, the owner of the pig, dipped the pig in a vat of 140 degree water to get all of the hair off of the skin.

 

Me, scrapping the hair from the ear

Me, scrapping the hair from the ear

I helped out by scraping an ear. This was the messiest part, resulting in me being covered in singed pig hair. 

Brett, dreaming of head cheese, I'm sure Brett is dreaming of delicious head cheese here, I think.    

Cutting the jugular for blood to make blood sausage

Cutting the jugular for blood to make blood sausage

Beautiful Caul Fat

Beautiful Caul Fat

 

I don’t know why the formatting is so weird on this post, but it is making it really annoying to post. So the pics are out of order, though it is probably better the bloody one is at the bottom.

Basically the pig kill wasn’t all that notable. We watched as the pig was shot, then hung, bled and de haired. He was split in half, then we helped to break down the meat in to primals, then into usable cuts for various types of charcuterie.

It was a good lesson, and I’m glad I went. Anyone who eats a lot of meat should  probably be familiar with what goes on to get the food to their plates.