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Talking Just Living, Playing With “Work,” and Food

I’ve been meandering back to some of my roots, lately. Maybe you’ve noticed. I’ve been getting way more interested in preparing good food regularly for just one example. Here’s an unfinished project. I’m putting up some of my homemade stuff on Pinterest.

For another thing, I have a blog redesign in the works. This is ancient history, but Alec and his beautiful Foliovison Team in Bratislava moved this blog from TypePad to WordPress in about 2009 and hosted it on their servers until around 2014. We had a difference in management philosophy and so, I moved it away—but still retained them for urgent tech needs now & then. Anyway, I’m back to fully managed hosting, and Ivana is leading on the tech (when the blog is a dozen years old, there are always issues). As part of the package, they’re setting me up with a new theme and look, led by the Canadian expat himself, Alec—who always seems to self-cultivate just the right amount of hubris regarding stylistic elements. I’m very anxious to see what his keen eye has in store for me. I’ve unequivocally extended Carte Blanche to his strong disposition in this matter. Never micro-manage. Find competent people and let them loose.

…I’ve been meandering as well in the drafting of my Stupid Dog Brian post. Learning so much myself, using potatoes as my primary food.

…Bea and I are heading out of town tomorrow morning for just an overnight down south in Malibu. Sisson is having a launch party for some new goodies in his Primal Kitchen, and we’re both excited to attend.

Let’s get to some food. Here was Friday evening’s dinner.

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Pan-seared redfish with kale & parsley risotto infused with vegetable stock; all garnished with baked kale crisps.

Never skimp on doing risotto the right way. Two core and critical elements to get it al dente yet creamy: first, you have to stir it nonstop for 20 minutes. There’s no fucking shortcut. Second, you must use a flavorful broth, preferably an unsalted one that you’ve reduced somewhat to concentrate flavor already. You bring it to a simmer and add it hot to your risotto a soup ladle at a time, stirring until fully incorporated, then adding another, etc. At the point it goes right beyond chewy, you’re done. Stop!

Speaking of making stock, this is not what I used in that risotto. But I surely could have, and I’d advise you to try various stocks—mushroom stock for a sautéed mushroom risotto? Kitchen Basics is the best off the shelf. Take my damn word for it and shut up. I’ve tried every single one many times. KB is by far the tastiest and has an immaculate ingredients list. Just buy KB and shut up about it.

This is “freezer stock.” I know some of you understand me.


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It’s all the chicken carcasses (four of them in this), bits of leftover meat, bones of various species, and vegetable ends and peels.

Toss it into a pot, add water, cover and boil for a good six hours. Here’s where I see so very many go wrong, which I chalk up to an irrational exuberance for fat by people who don’t fucking know how to cook properly. Just because fat is fine, lovely and delicious doesn’t mean you want to fuck up your stock with off-taste-alien and texture, which you may want otherwise for various applications, other than fat guzzling.

If you must later, bring whatever you need for a particular application to a boil, add 1-2 pounds of Kerrygold butter, and take the stick blender to it. Call it “Bulletproof Stock” and drink up.

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Get one of these. You can even save the fat for other applications. It does not belong to a proper stock or broth. Take the time and effort and do it right.

In this case, the total amount rendered—being about two and a half of those separators—was perfect for another pot of my potato soup for the week.

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Same basic recipe per the link above. This one made with all the homemade freezer stock, no water. Also, just one yellow onion instead of two, with a bunch of green onion or scallions, chopped and added at the very end, with the milk. Finally, also, added to the two TBS dried parsley, is a half bunch of fresh, and using the rest for fresh garnish with each bowl.

I have a lot more to say about my potato soup vis-a-vis Stupid Dog Brain. How it possibly could help some, but maybe hurt others. This has been the chief reason for my delay in posting. Has to be original, and well thought out. It’s getting there.

Alright, wrapping up with dinner last night.

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Vegetable stock, Bok Choy, ginger and soba noodles to the upper left. Infused with star anise for that extra touch, and a bunch of baby spinach goes in at the end. To the right is wild fresh ground salmon, mixed with fresh ginger, sesame seeds, scallions, sesame oil, and panko crumbs.

I can’t decide which finished product pic I like best, so here’s both.

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OK, not sure when I’ll be back again, only that I will be.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

11 Comments

  1. Alec Kinnear on March 8, 2016 at 14:16

    Thanks for the mention Richard. Would have liked the free dinner too though!

    No kidding that maintaining long standing WordPress properties with all the silly bells and whistles and unnecessary database changes (unless you plan to start writing in ancient Korean, Richard) is a total pain. All those twats at Facebook and Twitter and Google and Apple constantly changing their API’s instead of just calmly providing what they promised with smooth transitional upgrades.

    Richard those of us in IT are out there to steal both your time and money.

    Of course, I’m doing my best to fight back against this tendency of forced obsolescence and excessive maintenance but it’s an uphill battle. Fighting the Nazis was much harder: first world problems of course.

    Glad to have you back!

    • Richard Nikoley on March 8, 2016 at 17:29

      It’s funny.

      I never stopped loving Alec and his team. I think we were engaged in different battles, not so far apart fundamentally and I had a silly moment in not recognizing some important things he did in order to keep ahead of the continual retool at expense, just so you’re sporting the latest .xxxxxx Dev.

      I fundamentally like Alec because his head is always in the game and he doesn’t put up with my shit beyond reason. At the same time, all it takes is a single data set of doubt and he will be assholes and elbows on my behalf.

      I saw that yesterday, even though it turned out to probably be no big, his doubt was enough.

      I’m for some reason a lot different these days. Embarassingly, I used to berate them over hiccoughs.

      Now, I’m far happier and content at a solid level of trust and partnership, making sure to be part of solutions rather than creating problems.

      I am so glad to be back and wondering how I could have ever left.



  2. Evolutionarily on March 8, 2016 at 20:00

    Richard, how do you separate the fat from the stock?Amateur cook here, thanks!

    • Richard Nikoley on March 9, 2016 at 07:16

      Go to a kitchen store like BBaB or SLT and ask for a fat separator.

      I should have taken the pic more sideways but the spout is at the bottom. Fat rises to the top.



    • Wilbur on March 9, 2016 at 08:30

      If you make it in advance, you can refrigerate it and the fat will float to the top and become solid. Same principle as the fat separator, but one less thing to clean.



  3. Wilbur on March 8, 2016 at 14:41

    I never liked making risotto because I hated standing over the stove. Yet I loved to eat it.

    Then I received Modernist Cuisine at Home as a gift. There are about 4 procedures in it that each alone justifies the cost of the book. One is fat-free Mac-n-cheese that uses a ton of cheese and is Velveeta creamy. You use sous vide to create cheese-flavored water which gets entirely absorbed by the pasta when it cooks (so that you have cheese-flavored pasta). The rest is getting the mouthfeel right.

    I digress. The book has a no-stir risotto. That’s ok. What’s awesome is barley risotto. Or steel-cut oatmeal or farro if that’s your thing. I’m sure you could do wheatberries. It takes 20 minutes in a pressure cooker, no stirring. Instead it uses rapid release of the pressure to break the starch molecules. And barley has an al dente’ness to it that makes regular risotto seem a little mushy, even when it’s done right. I have no idea if barley risotto can be made without a pressure cooker or how long one might need to stir.

    The flavoring liquid is crucial in risotto, as you said.

    • Jim on March 9, 2016 at 03:52

      Would you consider the Modernist Cuisine at Home to be worthy the $100 sticker price?



    • Wilbur on March 9, 2016 at 08:26

      If I had not received it as a gift, I would have bought it no question. Outside of my baking books, it’s the only book I really use consistently because some of the recipes require precision, rather than intuition like I normally use.

      The fat-free Mac-n-cheese is worth it all by itself. It turns it into something that takes a couple of hours. I’ve served it to many kids and they eat all of it. It uses cauliflower to get its creamy texture, but I’ve used white bean purée too. You can’t taste it even if I tell you it’s there. It’s amazing.

      It does a lot things I’ve never seen elsewhere. Like using baking soda to change the acidity of, say, squash or mushrooms, so that a pressure-cooked soup will have caramelized sugars. It’s a great technique.

      It’s got a lot of cool stuff, but you should probably love to cook if you buy it. Some of it is a bit of work. They do a great job of explains why certain ingredients are needed for the techniques. HTH



  4. Amy on March 9, 2016 at 13:12

    MUST you make food posts with pics when I’m trying to do a potato hack (and haven’t had time yet to make the soup)?

    Seriously, great. Love these posts. Keep them coming. 🙂

  5. king of the one eyed people on March 10, 2016 at 03:37

    Richard, I have just come to learn that you were raised under strict religious ideals. Firstly, congratulations on finding your freedom and secondly I can tell you a little trick I used to do the same: I woke up one day and realised I am Jesus-fucking-christ himself. Changed my view of the world and myself in an instant. I realise it’s probably not true but it’s a working hypothesis and it has not faulted me yet.

  6. Jed on March 12, 2016 at 13:53

    thanks for the tip about eating potatoes are room temperature. I’ve been incorporating them into my intermittent fasting days. What kind of vinegar do you use?

    It seems like malt vinegar would be the tastiest but that seems like it has bad stuff (grain?) in it. I have tried apple cider and red wine. It seems like I’m missing something.

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