Habeas Brulee » Equipment http://habeasbrulee.com Sun, 17 Mar 2013 03:04:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.21 The Wildman’s iPhone App http://habeasbrulee.com/2011/06/06/the-wildmans-iphone-app/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2011/06/06/the-wildmans-iphone-app/#comments Mon, 06 Jun 2011 23:20:20 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=553

My favorite urban forager and educational hike leader, Wildman Steve Brill, finally made my dreams come true when he released his Wild Edibles app this spring.

Now, I’ll start with my full disclosure – the Wildman gave me a promo code to download a free copy of the app, so that’s what I did. But in all honesty, I would’ve happily paid for it anyway. I’ve been hoping he’d create a wild foraging app ever since I bought my iPhone two summers ago, after all! My fantasy involved some sort of 20 questions style tool, but the well-organized database he put together instead serves just as well as what I’d envisioned.

I love his hikes through NYC parks, where he teaches us how to identify edible and medicinal plants around the city. I love his beautiful artwork, which is all through his cookbooks and now the app. And I love his recipes (even when I adapt them to suit my ovo-lacto palate).

The Wildman’s new Wild Edibles app is an incredibly thorough directory of the edible and medicinal plants you’re likely to find in North America. It’s easy to browse and search through, and full of photos and drawings to help you identify what you’re looking at. I particularly appreciate the big pink warning (and yellow alert sign on all images) when a plant has poisonous lookalikes, and the tasty looking recipes included with many of the entries.

A friend and I had a lot of fun playing with the app when trying to find cattails out on Long Island, and seeing how her recollections of eating cattails matched up with the Wildman’s advice. I’m going on a big road trip this summer, and I can’t wait to put it to good use then!

I’m also very proud of my [tiny] involvement – the Wildman emailed me to say that he put a note in the app about prickly ash and Sichuan peppercorns, which he hadn’t known about until I got excited and mentioned the connection when we found prickly ash trees in Prospect Park last summer!

(And speaking of using the iPhone with urban foraging – when we found those trees last summer, I immediately dropped a little pin into my maps app on my phone to mark the spot. So now, I can just search for ‘prickly ash’ on my phone and follow the gps directions straight to the right spot in the middle of the park. This sort of nifty use of technology is probably my favorite thing about living in the future!)

So, have fun! I’m getting more and more into urban farming, with my bees and my Dad’s sour cherry tree and the myoga (a Japanese ginger relative, with delicious flowers) I planted last fall. But nothing really beats being able to wander around and identify what you’re looking at as you go. At least in the context of urban foraging, this is the future I wanted.

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A KitchenAid Upgrade http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/01/16/a-kitchenaid-upgrade/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/01/16/a-kitchenaid-upgrade/#comments Tue, 16 Jan 2007 12:44:53 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/01/16/a-kitchenaid-upgrade/

My father is an attorney. He has a general civil practice here in Brooklyn, NY. He also has a history of clients who believe in trying to barter instead of paying legal fees. We’ve had the bagel man, the sports tickets man, the nut man, the painter, and more. I’m an attorney, too, but I don’t have the sort of practice where I get this sort of creativity from clients. (Yet.) Dad does.

One of my father’s clients owned a restaurant that was soon to go out of business. The client planned on auctioning off his various kitchen appliances and such. Dad figured we should go over there while the restaurant was still open, have dinner, and look around the kitchen to see if there was anything we wanted.

We wanted the chest freezer, the KitchenAid stand mixer (which was larger and more powerful than ours), and a ton of flatware and glassware. It turned out that the glassware was spoken for, the freezer was leased, and the KitchenAid was broken.

“Fine,” said I. “Give me the broken KitchenAid. I’ll fix it.”

Dad delivered it to our apartment a few days later. (Along with a massive bucket of flatware. Fantastic!)

Our new broken KitchenAid was an Epicurean, with a 6 quart capacity and a 475 watt motor. We looked it over when it arrived – broken whisk, no problem. That was about $20 to replace at Sur La Table. Plugged it in – it was a bit loud, but then, KitchenAids always are. Sounded like the motor was working just fine. What’s the big deal?

Ah, there’s the problem. The lever that raises and lowers the bowl is broken.

Wait, you mean we just got a perfectly good working KitchenAid Epicurean 475 watt 6 quart stand mixer, and all we have to do is replace the whisk and fix the lever? Okay!

We unscrewed the base of the mixer and looked inside. The problem appeared to be that the plastic lift lever (that which attaches the thing you turn with your hand to the thing that turns inside and actually moves the bowl) was broken. We googled around, and ordered a new one for about $8.

Problem was, we could not quite figure out how to open the machine up further and actually replace the plastic lift lever with the new one that was due to arrive in the mail.

So, I called up KitchenAid’s customer service number and asked them to talk me through replacing the lift lever. I told them our diagnosis and explained that all I needed was some advice on opening the thing up. The customer service representative asked for the model and serial numbers of the machine, and put me on hold while she went to see if she could find the information I was looking for.

“I’m sorry, the model you have has been discontinued,” she said when she returned. “We don’t have any new parts for that model.”

“That’s okay,” said I. “I already ordered the new part I need. I just need you to explain to me how to replace the broken one with it once it gets here.”

“But,” she continued, cheerily ignoring me, “I spoke to my supervisor for you, and she has authorized me to extend your warranty and give you a free replacement with one of our new 6 quart models.”

Now, I can be a bit dense sometimes, but even I know when to stop talking.

I said, “Thank you.”

“We’ll send you a new KitchenAid Professional 600 [575 watt] 6 quart stand mixer.”

I said again, “Thank you.”

She went on to explain that while the shade of grey I have no longer exists, she could offer me a choice of three other shades of grey. I picked the one that was in stock and would arrive soonest.

“Your new mixer should arrive in 7-10 days. All you have to do when it gets there is take the new model out of the box, then put your old machine into the box. You’ll have to write your customer ID number on the outside of the box. And then we’ll have UPS come back to pick up the box and send it back to us. Can I help you with anything else today?”

“No, thank you, you’ve already made me very happy.”

This conversation took place last Wednesday. The new KitchenAid arrived yesterday. 7-10 days must mean something very different (and much more delightful) in their world than it does in mine.

KitchenAid may not offer lifetime warranties on their products, but they sure do take good care of their customers.

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Lamb Tagine with Pearl Onions, Dates, and Sugar Snap Peas http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/10/12/lamb-tagine-with-pearl-onions-dates-and-sugar-snap-peas/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/10/12/lamb-tagine-with-pearl-onions-dates-and-sugar-snap-peas/#comments Thu, 12 Oct 2006 14:10:24 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/10/12/lamb-tagine-with-pearl-onions-dates-and-sugar-snap-peas/

Well, I finally purchased a tagine, so my tagines will actually deserve the name from now on. I seasoned it by soaking it in water for about an hour and a half, then rubbing the inside with olive oil and baking it for a nice long while afterwards.

I have been rereading all the Paula Wolfert cookbooks I own, and eyeing a few more Moroccan cookbooks I would like to pick up. It is a wonderful voyage, trying to learn enough about Moroccan cooking to be able to improvise within it more dramatically.

Paula Wolfert has written that she prefers to cook traditional dishes in the traditional manner. She is a culinary anthropologist, and her research and stories are extraordinary. I love the recipes she manages to unearth. I respect and appreciate her commitment to working within the strictures of the cuisine that she loves.

I can’t function that way myself. I truly enjoy learning about traditional techniques and recipes, but in the end, fusion is my native cuisine, and all else falls before that. I am less interested in doing things right than I am in doing them well. That said, you have to understand the rules before you can break them successfully. With Moroccan cooking, I am still first learning the rules.

This tagine was adapted partially from a recipe I found on Food Down Under, and partially from the general technique for cooking lamb tagines that Wolfert explains in her books, and, well, the sugar snap peas looked really good when we went to the store.

Lamb Tagine with Pearl Onions, Dates, and Sugar Snap Peas
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 lbs boneless lamb, cut into 1″ chunks
10 oz pearl onions
5 tbsp chopped parsley
1/4 C chopped cilantro
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/b tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp saffron threads
Salt and pepper to taste
1 C warm water (plus more if necessary)
8 oz pitted dates
2 tbsp honey
About four big handfuls of sugar snap peas (rinsed, ends snapped off and discarded)

Blanch the pearl onions in boiling water for about 3 minutes. It will be easy to peal them afterwards, just by cutting off the root end and squeezing the onions out of their outer layers, which you then discard.

Do not, repeat, do not heat up your tagine before you start putting stuff into it. Place the tagine on your stovetop. Put in the oil and swirl it around a bit. Add the spices and herbs, and turn on the heat very low. Add the lamb and stir it around until it is coated in the oil/herbs/spices.

Add the onions and water, then put the top on the tagine and allow it to slowly come up to a simmer. If you want a few onions to remain whole and pretty instead of melting into the sauce, reserve a small handful and add them in later on instead.

It is remarkable how much cooking action you can get in a tagine over very low heat. I have never seen any other pot allow its contents to simmer over the lowest setting on my stove before.

Simmer for about an hour and a half, then add the dates. Continue simmering for another half hour or so, or until the lamb is unutterably tender.

Remove the lamb and place it on a baking sheet, and brown it for just a moment under the broiler, then set it aside.

Stir the honey into the sauce and cover the tagine again. Let it simmer for a little while longer, until the sauce is almost-but-not-quite reduced to your desire consistency. Add the peas, and let simmer for just a few minutes longer. Then return the lamb to the tagine, stir, and simmer just until all is warmed through again.

Don’t place your hot tagine onto a cold trivet. Remember, always heat your tagine slowly and allow it to cool slowly.

Serve and enjoy.

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