Tuesday, May 13, 2014

German Potato Salad

Looking for a zesty alternative to French Fries with my burger this week, I decided to make a German Potato Salad.  It took a while to find exactly what I wanted to do, as there are many Potato Salad recipes.  I knew I wanted a non-mayonnaise Potato Salad, but didn't know where to go after that.  It turns out that I used a Herbaceous Vinaigrette that has Pork Fat, Rice Wine Vinegar, and lots of Dill.
Its a salad so a Vinaigrette seems appropriate, and the Dill makes it fresh.  But how many salads start out with a pan of Bacon?  It looks like Bacon is pretty popular on salads.  LOL!
I'm using the Bacon for two reasons, the Bacon bits, in this case Lardones, or thin strips of crispy Bacon for the Salad, and the Bacon fat for the Vinaigrette.  A Vinaigrette is a slurry of fat, vinegar, and an emulsifier, in this case brown mustard.  The emulsifier holds the fat and vinegar in an emulsion so they don't "break".
I'll start the Vinaigrette with two cloves of Garlic diced finely in a mixing bowl.  Then add two tablespoons of hot Bacon Fat.  This will cook the Garlic a little so its not too sharp.  Raw Garlic is never a good idea in a Salad, and this also brings out the sugars in the Garlic.
Then I added two tablespoons of Spicy Brown Mustard, a tablespoon of Honey, and four tablespoons of Rice Wine Vinegar.  Then whisk this mixture into the emulsion that is the Vinaigrette.  This can be used as it is, or seasoned more with Salt, Pepper, Red Chile, and I chose copious amounts of Dill.  I am adding the Salt and Pepper directly to the Baby Red Potatoes.  Then I whisked in another two tablespoons of Olive Oil.  The Vinaigrette is equal portions of Fat and Vinegar.
Dill feels Springy to me, and why not make a stark green Vinaigrette, everything outside is popping green right now.  I chopped about three ounces of Dill and added it to the Vinaigrette.  This gets to sit a while, and let the flavors meld while I prepare the rest of the Potato Salad ingredients.
I got about two pounds of Baby Red Potatoes at Rosemeade Market this week.  I roasted them in the oven at 425 F for about 30 minutes until they were fork tender, then quartered them.  Really you could use any Potato here, the Baby Reds just caught my eye.  They were right next to Baby Yukon Gold, and Fingerlings which I could have also used.
Then we'll season the Potatoes with Sea Salt, and Black Pepper.  Season well because Potatoes are pretty bland.  Then Vinaigrette will also give them a punch of flavor.
Then I want to add some contrast of flavor, and texture, so I am going to add some sliced Radishes, and Red Onion to the Potato Salad.  For me Potato Salad has to have Radishes.  Then the Red Onion is just ubiquitous, everything I make has Onion, LOL!  Its a Savory Chef Thing...

OK, then, everybody in the Salad Bowl, lets go for a toss.  The last thing is the Bacon, which I slice thinly across the grain to make it chew easy.  The Bacon can be used as a garnish, or just mix it in.  The Potato Salad is great without it, but better with the extra dimension of nomlishousness...

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Posionous Plant Remediation

There are a few plants that are toxic to humans, Poison Ivy, Poison Sumac, and Poison Oak. Toxicodendron Radicans have a chemical in them called Urushiol, the oil in the plant that is poisonous to humans. Most animals are immune to this toxin, such as goats, who regularly eat this plant.  Dogs are also immune to this toxin, but can carry the Urushiol Oil on their fur. and transfer it to humans who pet them.  Humans that are sensitive to Urushiol have big problems with the effects of these plants, causing a infectious rash that is contagious if not controlled.  There is a neglected space next to my garden that has become overgrown with these toxic plants, and I feel I need to take action before they encroach upon the garden space.
On the right side of this picture is the East side fence of my garden.  This space is totally infested with Poison Ivy, and there is a Poison Oak tree growing in the middle.  Neglected soil, that is contaminated with industrial chemicals will produce an environment where these poisonous plants can thrive.
This space has been neglected for years.  Its not just Poison Ivy, but all the native Texas weeds like Johnson Grass, Burock, Amaranth. Nutsedge, Dichondria, Dandeloin, ad infinitum...
The Poison Oak Tree is really the stickler for me, rearing its head over my fence.  Last fall it shed it toxic leaves over my garden space, and I was very concerned about it.  I don't want the Poison Ivy contaminating my organic garden.  What if was to accidentally eat it, it might kill me...
Enter Toxicodendron Radicans Remediation Man...  Poison Ivy is a serious threat to organic gardeners.  There is no viable way to chemically eradicate Toxicodendron Radicans , and it must be physically removed manually. This requires adequate protection to prevent a Urushiol infection, and subsequent rash.  You don't want this stuff to touch you at all.  The Coveralls will cover most of your venerable parts.  But you also need thick gloves, eye protection, and thick boots.  Don't take chances with Urushiol, it will Fuck You Up.  I was largely successful with the Ururshiol infection prevention gear that I used today, but only time will tell. I don't feel it, and that is good, I'm not itching...  LOL!
I took the Poison Ivy, and Poison Oak out, and survived, and am not itching, and that is what is important.  But I have to keep after it.  Toxicodendron Radicans is very persistent, and has to be controlled regularly....  This space needs to be maintained regularly...