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Return To The Kitchen: The Returnening (Episode One)

With one exception, I haven't cooked for a week.

One week ago today, I made up an epic batch of char siu. It took a triple batch of the marinade, six and a half pounds of pork shoulder, and had to be cooked in two batches so as not to dirty two racks. Some of it went into banh mi that night, some of it got stashed away for a near-future project, and most of it ended up in the freezer for future consumption.

The Failed Bento Experiment

No, this has nothing to do with Japanese meal boxes.

Also, while I do not believe in being one of those bloggers who posts about how they're not posting, I didn't actually intend to accidentally take almost all of November off from writing about food. And, indeed, if you enjoyed the live tweets from two of the last three weeks of Next Iron Chef, technically, I didn't take the month off. That said, the content-bereftitude here was largely the result of this being at the bottom of the time/energy priority list, so when work gets nuts or I spend a week with a cold...

The Mistake

I've referred to this a few times in various places, but I've been saving the whole story for Forkbastard, and the time (in short supply right now) and energy (even shorter supply) to write it up properly.

Cooking is many things. An art, a craft, an exploration of flavor, a way of communicating culture and history, a lot of fun, and a chore.

But most importantly, COOKING IS SHARP AND HOT.

A Few Things You Should Know

A few notes.

If you don't watch No Reservations regularly, make an effort to seek out the most recent episode, on the closing of Ferran Adria's "El Bulli". Not only is it awesomely foodporny, but Bourdain and his crew do a beyond exemplary job of really demonstrating, in just 44 minutes of video, where the restaurant came from and why it, and Adria, are so incredibly important. Fabulous television.

The Great Housewarming Party Checklist

I hope I made enough food, but I comfort myself in the fact that I couldn't make any more.

ADVANCE PREP DONE:

Carnitas: Cooked, shredded. Sauce chilled and skimmed.
Chicken: 24 thighs marinating in an overnight paste rub of ancho and cumin.
Beef: Four pounds of eye of round cut into slabs and rubbed with a mix of dried onion, dried jalapeno, dried garlic, cumin, and chili powder.
Shrimp ceviche: Shrimp cut into small chunks and are marinating overnight in lemon, lime, and orange juices. Hope this works. New thing for me.
Mango-Cucumber Salsa: DONE

Back To Basics

So we are officially ensconced, which means one thing. An entire week of Taco Bell and fast casual has to thankfully come to an end. Time to get back to cooking my own damn food.

And it's turning out to be a lot like the backwards version of the weeks leading up to the move. Simple dishes I know how to do under normal circumstances, dishes from the repertoire. Dishes that let me try out the new gear, unpack tools a few at a time as I need them, that kind of thing.

A Few Things

First, I've had to shut off comments without logging in first. Way too much spam, and it's tough with the moving and all to stay on top of deleting them. And Mikey's really busy, so even if there's something that can be done behind the scenes beyond the basic updates he's already done, it'll have to wait.

Spent two hours this afternoon making my new kitchen as close to spotless as I can make it. Photos as soon as I can manage to pull them off the camera.

Another Week Of Learning

It's been so long without a post that I'm almost tempted to violate my cardinal rule about not apologizing for the amount of time between posts. But if you follow YAD at all, you know I had a cold. I had it for a week. I still have the dregs of it, but the part where my throat hurt and I tired out quickly? An entire fucking week. This cramped even my now-legendary style.

Making Plans

Before I start - using some of the cash from a Half Price Books dump of old Star Trek paperbacks at Taco Bell doesn't count as cheating, right? I didn't think so.

So anyway, new kitchen means room. Room means more space to store and use the kind of equipment that the fine people at Target call "small electrics". So I'm using this post to solicit advice on a few items I've long thought would be nice to have, in case any of you have relevant experience.

Things I've Learned Since Making Hot Dogs

A small assortment of food learnings since this weekend:

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