To my readers, a belated apology. My wife has been ill, my house has had power and aircon issues, and when your house is broken, it becomes hard to cook and write about food. So we’ll talk a little sous-vide, things that have been building up, stuff I’ve observed, and the occasional incidental that may only pertain to the Snellville GA area as opposed to the much larger world of sous-vide cooking.

Gogi Brothers has closed. I enjoyed my stay there, but I was about the only one I know of who had a positive experience there. If you can’t please customers, it’s hard to stay open.

Fung Mei, which for a while was missing its Sichuan chef, has one now, and their version of “Shan City chicken” (Fung Mei calls it E1 on the Sichuan menu) is exceptionally good right now.

Fung Mei’s “E1” was blow you away good this last Father’s day.

Concerning the dish dry fried green beans: can anyone explain to me the move from spicing with Sichuan peppercorns to a less fiery garlic based set of ingredients? The garlic flavored green beans are good. but not as insanely good as the green beans I had on this visit to Fung Mei.

For the 4th, I prepped a pair of buffalo sirloins. This 8 ounce cut is rapidly becoming my go-to when I want a steak I don’t have to think about. Reliability, tenderness, rich flavors, and serving size about right are driving this. 3 to 5 hours at 131 with dry spices, and these meats are good to go.

Buffalo sirloins are grass fed and very reliable in a sous-vide pot.

When spicing more than one piece of meat, it’s faster if you’ll spice all of them at once on one side, flip all of them, and spice the other side. This approach saves time. Keeping a pot around on the stove, with scalding hot water, also makes it faster to equilibrate the sous-vide pot.

Bottom round roast, 16 hour sous-vide.

Recently I worked up another roast, this time a bottom round roast. I was going to cook it 30 hours, but cut the time short, to about 16 hours, when I found this article on a 10 hour bottom round roast. It ended up a nice cut of meat, some chew but definitely more tender than a stove roasted meat.

I’m beginning to think the 10-24 hour time frame is best for these kinds of meats, regardless. You’re guaranteed something you can eat and not think about it. The longer you go, the more likely it is you’ll get meats with a sawdust texture.

The malty chocolate overtones in this beer make it a creative alternative to another American pale ale or an overhopped IPA.

If you like malt forward beers, you might want to give New Belgium’s 1554 a try, whose malty chocolate overtones make it an alternative to yet another IPA.

Finally, for those of you who are interested in monitoring electricity use, or do some minor electrical work on your own, let’s introduce the common current clamp. Versions of these are available at Home Depot or Lowe’s, or can be purchased for about 50 dollars on Amazon.

A current clamp. It can be more useful to the cook than you might imagine.

The current clamp above came with this temperature probe. Claimed range is less than or equal to 400 C, plus minus 2.5 C.

This one, an Amazon purchase, comes with a temperature probe. That’s what lifts it above the fray for the interested cook. It becomes a dual purpose tool. The accuracy of this probe is 2.5 C, and that’s yet another way to double check the accuracy of your sous-vide device.

Triple checking the temperature in my sous-vide pot.

It could also be used as the main temperature probe in a beer cooler sous vide setup (see also here).

On Father’s Day we went out twice. The first time was to Benny’s Bar and Grill for their brunch. I had never had their brunch before. We had their mussel appetizer (really good), a bowl of their gumbo (fantastic), and I had a tilapia wrap. My wife had a chicken sandwich, with marinated grilled chicken, and my daughter had a omelet.  It was all good, and too much food for lunch really. We all took leftovers. And I found out how much my daughter liked my wrap when I took it for lunch on the Tuesday after, and she had already taken a large slice of it. For dinner we went to Destas Ethiopian. I’ll review that restaurant later.

My doctor has laid down a gauntlet in terms of my eating, and it’s going to be hard to meet. The deal is, no red meat, no soft drinks that aren’t diet drinks, control portion size, and start an exercise program and stick to it. I start exercise programs all the time. Sticking to them is the hard part. The point is to lower my weight, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and if possible, prevent the onset of adult diabetes. There were some ugly sides to my last blood test, and though I didn’t starve the way I should before that kind of test, it is better take precautions now.

Simply put, I’m not going to be able to give up red meat. But what I think would work better actually, is giving up almost all meat for lunch. While the difference in cholesterol between fish and red meat is something like a 20-30% difference, the difference between animal and plant products is a 100% difference. Plants have no cholesterol at all.

The best diet I was ever on was later popularized as the Subway diet. You don’t need to eat Subway sandwiches to do this. Just limit calories at lunch to 400 or less, don’t snack, eat normally at dinner, and exercise moderately. My last successful diet, about 10 years ago, was exactly this. I lost 20 pounds doing this and relatively painlessly.

An easy way to accomplish a vegan/vegetarian lunch at my work is to make heavy use of Kashi’s frozen entrees, such as their Black Bean Mango and their Ranchero Bean offerings. Both are vegetarian, if not vegan (Sara from Innocent Primate suggests that many Kashi entrees may have honey as a sweetener. Please check). Both are under 400 calories.

Popular Atlanta sandwich shops often have a vegetarian option. Alon’s has a Tuscan sandwich and Wright’s Gourmet in Dunwoody has a vegetarian sandwich they call Glenda’s Garden. Finally, I’ve cooked both a quinoa and Kashi stir-fry before. If worst comes to worst, then I can do it myself (though I need some way to figure out calories per serving).

In terms of boonie peppers, I couldn’t be happier. The outside plant simply shed all its bad, nasty looking leaves and it now looks extremely healthy:

Potted boonie pepper growing outside in Georgia. It looks fantastic!

Potted boonie pepper growing outside in Georgia. It looks fantastic!

The inside plants, in 2 liter soda bottle greenhouses, are doing extremely well. To reiterate, take your plant once sprouted, get a peat pot, add about 1 inch of soil. Put the sprout in the peat pellet into the pot, cover with soil. Place in a greenhouse made of an empty soda bottle cut in two, with a few two inch vertical slits (can be done on either half, really. I split the top half). Water immediately with an indoor strength fertilizer; assemble greenhouse and place on handy sunny window sill; repeat watering as needed (every 1-2 weeks). Don’t worry about excess; it will drip into the bottom of the greenhouse and help keep the plants moist. To keep them warm through the cool Georgia spring on the window sill I had them on, I was using a heating strip. Heat + fertilizer + greenhouse = steady reliable growth.

Many of those will be moved outside sometime during July. They are looking that good, growing that well. My tomatoes, on the other hand, aren’t growing well. I believe I’m going to have to find a new plot for them, some place with more sun. The only tomato to fruit there so far have been Sweet 100s a few years ago.