Butcher, Baker…

…candlestick maker? I have rendered tallow from a half beef we purchased last year, but I can’t imagine making candles out of something so delicious. Maybe I’ll start keeping bees in the future! Two birds with one stone, that.

Years ago, I was a butcher for a small grocery store in Golden Valley, Minnesota. It was a grand old, mom and pop store in most people’s minds, but really it was a rather large store in its heyday. One thing that stays with me about butchering in the way back, apart from how darned heavy a hanging quarter of beef was, is how cuts that were undesirable then, garner big bucks today. For instance, we almost always ended up grinding the flank and skirt steaks into ground beef. Crazy, right? Same with the brisket. How nuts is that? It was all about time and place. In a different region, that brisket would have been honored. Come to think of it, that brisket was honored as some of the best ground beef I’ve ever tasted.

Keeping with the theme of butcher, I would love to explore the craft of charcuterie. I think this will be the topic of this blog for several weeks. A discussion of condiments, cured meats and various pates and rillettes would help me learn, and that is what this blog is about. It certainly is not about me teaching you to cook. That would be presumptuous and a bit dishonest of me. If you want, you can come along for the ride. That would be cool. Constructive criticism and mentoring is always welcomed. Nastiness and mean spiritedness is allowed but pretty much ignored. Foulness and vileness is deleted and block!

IMG_0216Baking is one of the other culinary crafts that I have been exploring. Sourdough is pretty darned amazing stuff. I have had some pretty good luck modifying KAF’s Rustic Sourdough Bread recipe to use a liquid levain. I’ve also eliminated the commercial yeast because, the starter really doesn’t need the help. I just let the fed starter sit for a few hours in a mildly warm oven. It produces a really nice loaf with a somewhat tight crumb, though not too dense. It has a nice, brown, crunchy crust and the aroma and flavor are really very nice. One of the nice folks on the Artisan Bread Bakers FaceBook page encouraged me to make one type of bread until I became proficient at it, and then move on to another type. I think I am ready to try Ciabatta, or Focaccia.

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