Water Roux Or How Wallpaper Paste Can Help Your Bread Baking

This really is a very easy process.

Since I am not doing a video here, but text, I am going into deep detail.  I’m probably overdoing it, and once you do this once, you will remember it forever.

Besides, I’m a perfectionist when it comes to video and a bit camera shy so lets dive into text!

Perhaps it’s a bit silly to call the result of this “wallpaper paste” but it’s the result of an Asian technique for pre-baking some of your flour to get it to retain water.

Flour and Water in the right proportion can stick paper to the wall, make papier mache, and will make your breads and pastries wonderful!

There are various names for the process:  Water Roux, Tangzhong, and others.  The process locks up extra water in the dough, gelatinizes it, and gives extra lift to the breads.

When that is used in baking, it allows your breads to rise taller, last longer, and the resulting loaves are softer and more tender.  I did not notice a difference in the taste however the texture was definitely changed.   Until you get the hang of this, you are going to be more hands on and manual than usual.

Intrigued?  I was, and I tried it.  The best hint I can give you about this is to take your time while mixing.

I can’t say about the longer life because the rolls I made today were the first using this process.  Allow things to “come together” on their own until you get used to the new proportions.

I can say that they were interesting and I certainly will do this again.  Obviously there are times where this process is inappropriate.  For Bagels this would be wrong because you want them to be chewy.  The resulting dough from this process is soft and pliable so it’s best for sandwich rolls and I can see it in pastries as well.  Burger Rolls definitely will be improved by this.

I am using this recipe for the bread dough, Pat’s Pizza Dough.  I have been using it for years, decades really.  I know what the rolls and dough should be like so I was able to tell right off that this technique has its place.

First, that specific recipe uses 10 ounces water, 3 cups of flour.  Since you are going to pre-cook part of that, keep those numbers in mind as you will adjust your normal recipe downward for this process.

Second, of those three cups of flour, you will want to reserve a quarter cup of it.  The Water Roux process absolutely changes the texture of your dough.  Since the dough is changing, you will have to add in either more water at the end.

If you overshoot and end up with a dough that isn’t smooth and silky, adjust as needed.

Third, to make the paste:

  • In a small mixing bowl, I took all 10 ounces of the water from the recipe and added in 2 ounces of flour.
  • I then whisked the flour into the water for 5 minutes by hand.
  • Then warm the flour to 140F/60C (in the microwave) in bursts.
  • Whisk that mixture again until smooth.  You will notice a thicker “gel” forming in the bottom of your mixing bowl.
  • Allow the mixture to cool to 105F/40C or cooler before making your dough.  After all, you want to give your Yeast a chance to thrive!

Fourth, Make your dough.  Add your salt, sugar, yeast, oil.  Mix the roux into the flour slowly, watching how the dough comes together.

Overview: What you just did was to release the proteins in the two ounces of flour.  Those proteins bound to the water in the mix.  Now you really don’t have 10 ounces of water any longer since some of it is bound up, you now have to add back an appropriate amount.

What is appropriate?

For the Pat’s Pizza Dough Recipe, I added in an extra ounce of water to a total of 11 ounces.  For our Metric Audience, each ounce is two tablespoons or 28.3 mL.  283 mL originally plus another 28 mL or so.

Its an adjustment not a whole re-do of things.

The dough is in the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook, and it was now too “wet”.  Adding in one tablespoon of the reserved flour “tightened” the mix back up to where I could make rolls and allow it to rise and bake.

The dough was silky smooth and very easy to work with.  The usual recipe tends to be on the sticky side and a bit rubbery due to my all purpose flour.

You will want to take your time with this process.

What happens is that while baking some of that “extra” water gets released in the form of steam and your dough gets taller.  It acts as Leavening to make for a lighter and more fluffy roll.

At least that was what I found.  Those rolls were sliced open, and had with some tuna salad.  Quite good!

Lemon Curd in the Microwave in Under Three Minutes

I never really intended to write a food blog but my curiosity gets the best of me.   I never knew a Kitchen Hack I didn’t like.

On the other hand, if I search for this particular food, I find the Microwave version first.  I guess I’ve just been hiding away from the world too long!

Lemon Curd is an English confection that the closest thing we have in America is the filling for a Lemon Meringue Pie.

But it’s much more creamy and silky than that.

It also takes about 1/2 hour of standing by a stove babying it and making sure it does not boil on a medium to low heat.

This cooks in the microwave in under 3 minutes.

Yes.  It took me 2:45 to get it done.

The hardest part is making absolutely certain that your thermometer is reasonably accurate.  Mine was not, and read 10F high, so the Lemon Curd came out a little loose.

Oh, and I made mine in a recycle-able plastic Cottage Cheese container, then poured it into a jelly sized Mason Jar for storage.

Use within a couple weeks – that’s why I cut down the recipe in 1/2.

This all hit the web a couple weeks back as a Kitchen Hack, I tried it, and yeah, it works.  It turns a fiddly recipe into something anyone can make in under 10 minutes if you’re quick about it.

On a Bagel, English Muffin, or Home Made Crumpet, this stuff can’t be beat especially if you have cream cheese to go with it all.    I use this Lemon Curd for Lemon Tarts as well.  If you have a ready made pie shell, just dump the Lemon Curd in, and top with some whipped cream or perhaps prepare a meringue for it.

Oh and of the Variations I have tried – Key Lime or Grapefruit are my personal favorites.

Ingredients for this are 1/2 of my original recipe but I will repeat them here, adjusted for size.

  • 1 1/2 Lemons, Zested and Juiced (About a quarter cup juice)
  • 3/4 cup (170g) granulated Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter (2 Ounces, 60g)  – Room Temperature and cut into small pieces

Process

  • To a microwave safe bowl, add all your ingredients.
  • Stir the ingredients until smooth or run them through a blender.
  • Place Microwave Safe bowl in microwave and cook on High for 30 seconds.
  • Stir ingredients thoroughly to prevent hot spots.
  • Repeat the microwave and stir cycle until the temperature at least reaches 185F (85C).
  • The Lemon Curd will begin to noticeably thicken when you reach temperature.
  • Again, Do not allow to boil but make sure you hit that magic temperature of 185F/85C.
  • Pour the finished product into jars and refrigerate or run through strainer to capture any lemon zest or egg that might cause lumps.

Picture from wikipedia shows how it will look close up and personal!

Lemon Curd courtesy of wikipedia.com

Baking or Soap Making it could be Engineering Tolerances that are causing you problems

I was an electronics geek back when I was a teen.

Everything in Electronics had a percentage of tolerance engineered in.  Any particular theoretical Resistor may have been intended to be 220K, but in reality it had a 10 % tolerance built in and could have been as much as  22K off.  Say 200 Ohm to 242K ohm.

And since everything else had a 10% tolerance it just may work!  After all, analog electronics always had a trimming capacitor or potentiometer somewhere to tune the circuit to make it all work.

I have a habit of scaling recipes.  That Engineering Tolerance can get in the way.

It makes too much, cut the recipe down.  If it doesn’t make enough, double it.

In fact, my favorite bread recipe, Pat’s Pizza Dough works great in thirds.  I can take that third and make a rather nice sized pizza for two or a couple rolls for sandwiches and it works well.

My preferred way to make a pizza crust is to toss the ingredients into a bag, add an extra teaspoon or tablespoon to texture, and squish it around until it is properly mixed and kneaded.

What if I want one single roll?

No, seriously, just one.  After all you’re not eating two rolls at a time, right?  It may not turn out just right.

After all, you took a recipe that you cut down from 3 cups to 1 cup, and it worked out right, but what about going smaller.

Metric measurements may help.

But here is the rub.  Many recipes were converted from very old measurements and work well in one specific climate, but move them they don’t work.  Others were converted into Metric measurements and are rounded up or down.

I have seen conversion factors varying between 28 and 30 grams to the ounce where the official measurement is 28.35 (by my search) grams to the ounce.

28 and lets-call-it-a-third grams to the ounce.

(See what I did there?  Added an Engineering Tolerance?)

Have you ever accurately measured one gram in a kitchen?   – No.

How about 1/3 of a gram.  – No.

Does it matter? – Maybe.

“Cooking” may not be effected.  Your measurements can be a little off when you’re making a roast from Grandma’s recipe but “it’s the way we like it” would be the answer.

Baking, well that can be finicky.  I’m just not going to try to figure out 9.45 Grams of anything.  My scale is not THAT accurate, and frankly that’s only the 1/3 ounce.  A single roll needs 1/9th of a teaspoon of salt and of sugar.

Settle down, if you go up or down slightly, it should still work but you probably have a freezer that would take the other two rolls if you went to the 1/3rd recipe.

My point is that it is a rare kitchen that can measure in tiny fractions of a gram.  If it is. it is probably cooking something that you would see in Breaking Bad.

After all, I remember my high school chemistry very well and used to get ridiculously accurate measurements in a true Laboratory with balance scales and graduated cylinders and Scientific House weights and measures, and MY kitchen is not equipped!

Since my High School Chem teacher was a stoner, learning Chemistry well was self-preservation around all those possibly toxic ingredients.

The one gram weight was, by the way, a small square of brass that was about the size of a quarter of a common postage stamp.  Now cut that down to a third.

Just stop right there.  My point is with food, it just might not be a problem and you can always have leftovers since that oven isn’t exactly free to run.

But soap?  Don’t try this at home kiddies!

The size reduction… Soap Making is easy but take your time with measurements.

You see, making larger batches of soap seem to be fine.  Bread Loaf sized batches mean that you can do your measurements in ounces and your kitchen scale will be happy to oblige.  Use Grams if you like and be more precise.   Anything over 500 Grams or a Pound (you choose) and the numbers get nice and round.

Since you are using less than 100% of the Lye you need in the recipe to leave things nice and moisturized after washing  your hide with it, coming in a wee bit low makes things happy.

My first batch was at 96%.  That soap was so good that my skin problem cleared up.  Add to it that I only ever use Human Food Grade Ingredients for making soap and you can really see why.

Then I got “creative”.  “Lets make One Single Bar Of Soap.” I said, in earnest!  “After all, how difficult can it be?”

Hah!  You jest.

You see, the measurement came in wanting a fraction of a gram of lye. 8.45 grams, to be specific.

No.  Just no.

Since different oils have different properties, I fiddled with the soap calculator web page and came up with a combination that ended up being exactly 8.00 grams of Lye, even round numbered gram amounts of oils, and 17 1/2 grams of water.

Why such small amounts?  I wanted One Single Bar of Soap that was going to be 3 ounces.

Actually I wanted two of them but one had scent and the other did not.

When I was through, the same measurements gave me two bars through two separate preparations of ingredients.

Bar one was 86 Grams.

Bar two was 79 Grams.

From the same measurements.

Bar one was fine and made the house smell like peppermint, and that was intentional.

Bar two had no scent and a sheen of “something” clear on top.  I don’t know if it was oil or water but it all “digested” into the bar and was (semi) solid the next day.

Don’t ask, I have no idea why.

They are both curing until they are ready to use.  Bar One will probably be too strongly scented and Bar Two might be harsh.  I won’t know until I use them.

So if you’re wondering why it does not work out when you do all that weird calculations and get different results, well, you made a measuring mistake and it happens.

Go with larger batches next time.  I will.  My mold will make six bars of soap, each 3 ounces.  I will calculate 21 ounces and see what I get.  I’ll let you know how that worked out.

Bread Dough in Five Minutes In A Plastic Bag

I guess the title says it all, if you’re looking for the short description.

There’s always a back story with me so hold on for the ride.

I wanted a Pizza, but really this can be used to make most basic breads.  I did not want to fuss around with a “full batch” of dough and make a cookie sheet full of rolls and … well you get the picture.

I will say that this will scale up to a larger batch and should be limited by how strong your own hands are.  You see, it’s all about your grip strength.  If you’ve got arthritis or some other limitation, use the machine.

On the other hand, this dough flew together so fast that it’s a great way to make fresh dough for small batches like one pizza dough ball or a couple of rolls.

Basically, I have a “Standard Recipe” for bread.  It’s “Pat’s Pizza Dough” recipe.   It makes 10 sandwich rolls, or about 8 torpedo rolls.  It also will make three pizza dough balls.  The original recipe is at the link – or you can even see my original note written 20 years ago in the picture.

The idea was cut the recipe down to one third of normal, then make it in a bag.

I added to a clean and food safe plastic bag the following ingredients.

  • 3 ounces of water
  • 2 teaspoons of oil
  • 1 cup of bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon of bread yeast
  • 1/3 teaspoon of salt (I used a well rounded 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1/3 teaspoon of sugar (I used a well rounded 1/4 teaspoon)

The process was simple.

 

  • Squeeze most of the air out of the bag and wind the top up to close it.
  • Grip the mix at the bottom of the bag and squeeze it repeatedly.
  • The mix will eventually form a dough ball through repeated kneading.

 

You may have to adjust the water content to fit your needs.  Bread dough is effected by the weather and conditions in your house and kitchen just as you would expect.  Wet climate will make stickier dough, dry climate you may need to add more water.

For Pizza Dough, you need a dough ball that is more dry than tacky or sticky.  Similar to Play-doh or similar modeling clay compound.

For Bread Dough, you need a dough ball that will be a bit tacky and it may want to stick gently to your hands or the side of the bag – but you will be able to remove it from the bag.

Basically that’s about it.  I’ll use this again because it’s saving me a lot of time in preparation and clean up work.

But… it took me just five minutes to get this dough done.  Add to it rolling time and rising time as normal.

Does Water Matter That Much? The Story of Importing Water 1200 Miles From Philadelphia to Make Bread

Once upon a time, in the woods, up on top of a hill, there was a farm house.

It was a beautiful neighborhood, a wonderful home.  There was a large kitchen hung off the back of the house, 20 feet by 25.  It had a fire place that was a welcome addition in the winter.  Bright windows and skylights and plenty of room.  It was an amazing place to cook.

This was my house for only thirteen years, in Philadelphia.

I was fortunate.  I got the idea that I could try my hand at baking bread when the bread machines came out back in the 1990s.  They were easy and I got great results.  I quickly moved to use the bread machine as a mixer and proofer for bread dough.  The results were much better since the oven would caramelize the crusts in a traditional way.  I ended up having “artisan” quality loaves of bread for about $.50.

Yep, 50 cents a loaf.

That translated into a Seven Cent Roll.  Crispy crunchy crusts.  Italian Bread.  Sweet Breads.  Amazing Pizza Cracker Crusts that had flavor and cracked when you bit down.

 

Inside the crusts, I would have soft as a cloud and chewy bread.  It was easy in Philadelphia to make bread in that kitchen.  Everything “just worked”.  The chemistry of the water was not pleasant to drink.  Philadelphia’s water from the tap is described as “Schuylkill Punch”.  It had a strange color, taste, and smell.   Philadelphians would laugh about it and say “Yeah, it’s da wudder here” and change the subject.

But it made great bread.

2006 happened.  We moved from Philly to South Florida.   When I turned on the tap here, the water wasn’t better.  It was different.  It looks vaguely brown and has an unpleasant taste.  Fort Lauderdale is processing it and since this is a “semi-tropical” area just about 10 miles below the Freeze Line in Boca Raton, there’s a high amount of Chlorine to kill off the nasties that live in the pipes.

You don’t want nasties in the pipes.

But it made bad bread.

You have to expect that.  All that chlorine would kill off your yeasts or simply retard their growth.  After all, Yeast is a Living Thing.

We went through “steps”.  I have tried various water to make bread here.  I am using the same recipe as I always have, “Pat’s Pizza Dough” recipe.  The flour is the same, although I do switch in various kinds of flour from time to time.

I get an adequate result when I use tap water.  The crusts are very thin and soft.  Better than what I would get in the supermarket, it just wasn’t what I was used to.

I was playing around with water for a while.  Take it from the filter on the refrigerator, warm it to 105F or 40C.  Use the same recipe.  Better.  The crust would be a little thicker, a little crisper, but not quite that Artisan quality.  Bottled water had similar results.

One day I was driving through downtown Fort Lauderdale and we passed by one of those bagel places that promises to make their products from what can only be described as reconstituted New York Water.   The only explanation that I have is that they’re adding salts and minerals to local water to get the balance of water that is approximately what comes from the tap in Brooklyn.

My Aunt’s Mother in Law had an apartment in Brooklyn.  I remember as a small child turning on the water tap and getting something that looked like milk out of the tap from all of the suspended gasses that were precipitating out.  I don’t know that Brooklyn Water was what I wanted.

So the conversation went like this:

“Yeah but you’re going to Philadelphia in July.  Can you bring me back some water?  A quart would be fine, a gallon would be amazing!”

We decided that we would go to a sporting goods store and get the first jug we could find that would be suitable that was more than a gallon.  More than that and I felt it would go funny from storage.  Less than that and I would be frustrated.

We ended up with a seven gallon blue plastic cube.  It got trucked to Glen Mills, PA in the back of my friend’s SUV where he filled it with about three gallons of water.  Right from the tap.

Coming home, I got a text that read:  “Slosh, Slosh, Slosh”.  As he drove down US 1 to the Maryland Line, the motion of the car was making the water splash around in the cube.  I was glad it was semi-rigid and larger than we needed.

When he got here to Florida, I got chapter and verse about how it was in the car making a racket in the back sloshing around for 400 or so miles until he got onto the Auto Train, then from Sanford, FL to here.

But we had PA Water!  Now to make bread rolls and pizza.

Just as they went into the oven, the power cut out and I ended up finishing everything off in the Barbecue Grill.

Strangely enough, it didn’t harm the rolls.  They were some of the best I have ever had since we moved.  The crust was crispy like a cracker, and the rolls had flavor.

 

Clearly there was something to this!

So while we laughed at Philly Wudder tasting like Schuylkill Punch, it made good bread.

I still am not certain what it was all about.

It is possible that it is that the water is better for baking.

It is possible that all the sloshing helped to de-gas the water of all the Chlorine and Fluorine in it.

It is possible that since it has been out of the tap for a couple weeks at the time of baking it was at its peak.

I just don’t know.

What I do know is that the crust was crispy, the “crumb” inside was soft but full of pockets of “air” that you would expect from a high quality bread.

There is now one question left to answer.  Was it the water from Philly, or can I recreate the results using local water that was either filtered or distilled, and left to “de-gas” on the counter.

All I know is I finally have a loaf of bread that I made in Florida that tastes like I remember it in Philly.

Yes, there is something to all of this.  The actual taste of the bread has changed subtly. The crumb is definitely better and the crust is wonderful.

All of this from a big blue cube that is taking up space in my kitchen.

So in six months when a return trip happens… yep, you guessed it.  Someone will have a big blue cube riding North to Glen Mills.

 

Here’s hoping that the water doesn’t freeze overnight!

Why Does FPL Want To Ruin My Pizza?

Sundays.  They have turned into Pizza Day.

Specifically, one half 7 cheese, one half 7 cheese with Mushroom, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Grilled Onions.

Made from scratch.  Scratch Crust, Scratch Sauce, and the toppings are my own mix.

I have this pizza recipe down.  The dough is Pat’s Pizza Dough.  The recipe comes from my sister.  She had it in a recipe book that she was given when she got married back in The Nineties.  I sat at her table with a stack of little square pieces of paper and wrote a whole bunch of recipes down and kept them.

 

I still have the original square paper for this.  It’s faded, water spotted, stained, and just about everything else you can think of that can happen to a piece of paper after some 20 plus years.  But the recipe is bullet proof.  Never fails.

Oh sure, I have adjusted it for Florida Conditions.  Bad water that comes out of the tap slightly brown and tastes like it has been sitting in a garden hose in the heat.  Flour that is commercial high grade, and rather thirsty and seems to like brown water.

Instead of what the recipe says, I’ve bumped it up to 12 ounces of water.  I know what the dough “feels” like when it is right.  Every experienced cook has a recipe they do By Eye and get right.

Pizza is mine.

In fact, I’ll put my own pizza up against anyone else’s on the island now.

The dough makes 1400 calories of bread, I weigh that in grams, divide by 10, reserve 30 percent and that makes one crust.  The cheese is exactly 6 ounces.  Sauce is exactly 7 ounces and is a home developed clone of the best sauce on the island from a closed Pizza Shop.  Yield is a pizza that is just about 1000 calories total depending on whether I go with 30% or 33% of the dough.

The point of that is I Know This Recipe.  It goes well with a single beer for Sunday Lunch.

I start this all at 9 AM.  Make the dough, weigh and separate it out.  This pizza was 30% crust, allowing me to make 6 rolls out of the remainder.  101 grams per roll.

It got rolled out and allowed to rise in a protected place.

11:30, I put the pizza together.  The vegetables were sauteed to drive out the moisture. Cheese mixed.  Sauce layered, followed by the cheese, and finally the veg.

I reached into the refrigerator, grabbed a fine ale, and sat down to enjoy a brief rest as the oven came up to temperature.

About 20 minutes later I hear the oven snap.  “It’s ready!  I guess I should get up.  The pizza will be ready in …”

BOOM.  I hear that apocalyptic sound of a “Pew” as capacitors in all the appliances discharge.  The fans stop.  It is silent except the ticking of the mechanical clocks.

You see this part of Florida, Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale, and Oakland Park is in Broward County.  The East side.of the county was built up first and it was built to the edge of the Everglades National Park until no more room at the inn.

Florida is full.  If you’re moving here from somewhere else, don’t think it is an open place of palm trees and wading birds.  It is, but those places are usually redneck, infested with evil things like alligators, mosquitoes that would carry off a large car, and Republicans.  Swamp People.

Broward is nice.  It’s diverse, having lots of interesting people from lots of interesting cultures, and everyone is from somewhere else.   The Native Floridians here are comparatively few on the ground.

But all that demographic nonsense?  You see what happens is that every so often we get, yes, a Hurricane.  The last one that hit here was Wilma in 2006, and we’re overdue.

 

The telephone poles look like they were here before Wilma.  You may ask, how can I tell?  Simple, they all seem to lean slightly to one side.  They’re almost all sun-bleached on the South side as well.  Southern exposure here is redundant, they’re kind of a grey color.   I know, I’m looking at one now.

Motley assortment of old beat up infrastructure.  Old Beat Up Infrastructure fails.  Randomly and spectacularly at times.

That would be that boom I was talking about.  It happened as I was just out of my chair and took my very first step across the living room to the kitchen.

What caused it was a two or three year old repair to a High Voltage wire on a pole about 100 feet from my house.  We were told it was “done badly” and “it just let go”.

I walked into the kitchen.  Oven temperature was 450. It was dropping.  I slid the pizza in anyway, and went into the living room.
“I really don’t want to finish this off in the grill.”

Crappy infrastructure means we have backup plans here.  In places where the weather is more gentle, like, say New Jersey in my sister’s native Cherry Hill, you talk about power outages, but they never last more than two hours or so.

My friend works for the power company in Atlanta.  When I tell him what I go through here with the power, he shudders and says “Southern Company would never accept that sort of failure rate” and then segue into a long conversation about how awful the power is here in Florida.

When I moved here, I lost two computers because of the twice daily “Power Pops” I get.

Trust me, it really is that bad.

Six minutes passed.  The pizza was actually done.  A wee bit under, but since I opened the oven, I lost the rest of my heat.  It was now down to around 300F.

“Well, lunch is served.  I’ll put the rolls on the grill.”

The pizza was actually quite good, better than most here.  But it wasn’t exactly a crispy cracker crust I obsess over.

Freaking FPL.

I go outside and put the rolls on the grill and close the lid.  I know exactly where to turn the knobs to get the grill to heat to 430F.

Setting the timer for 11 minutes, I come back later.

The first rolls are done.  Surprisingly good looking for something that was cooked under the Lanai.  I put in the second set.   They come out perfect too.

Actually the grill hot spots, so I will remember next time to put bricks in the grill to keep the cookie sheet up off the actual grill work.

“Now what?”  We were without power.  Full but no power.

“Luckily the house has hurricane glass and new roof.  We’ll have to see”.

The day went up to 92F here.  I watched the indoor temperature inch up a degree an hour or so.  It started at 76, and by 5PM it was up to 84.

We had some small battery operated fans for when it was warmest, but it served to remind me that while we do have a generator, it won’t power the Air Conditioning in the house without some more work.  Yes, we’ve got more hurricane prep to do or else it’s pile the dog and the parrot in the Jeep and drive North in case of a power outage.

Wilma did that.  My block was without power for two weeks.  I was told this over and over.  Two weeks of sitting on a floor and using D Batteries to power a small battery powered fan in an emergency is not fun.

So please, FPL, fix your infrastructure.  I don’t want to get used to baking rolls on a grill.

Potato Chips, Anyone? They’re a little…

Some folks should never be in a kitchen when bored.

I may be one of those people.

You see, it was in the run up to lunch time, late morning.  I was thinking that it was time to put the potatoes in the oven if I wanted to have them with my lunch.

If you’re counting on me for a baked potato recipe, it’s 450F for 1 hour 15 minutes “Or Until Tender”.  I usually go with smaller potatoes because they’re typically what are “medium” in this inflated garden basket of food called America.

Don’t look at me that way Europe, you lot are just about as fat as most Americans are here, and I’m decidedly not fat.

At any rate.

They run about 1.1 calories for 1 gram of Potatoes on average.  I went with 300 calories worth of potatoes.  I was going to split them in two and eat them over two meals anyway.  But I was bored with baked potatoes.

I started slicing them.  I have a habit of having the knives of death here – they’re sharpened to a professional edge.  If you ever use a knife here at my house … be very careful.

I selected my favorite steak knife.  It’s about an 8 inch blade, not serrated, and deadly sharp.

Yes, I mean it.  Be careful

Drew the knife back on the cleaned potato and it gave me a slice that was ridiculously thin.

Repeated it through the two potatoes.

Instead of getting a “comb” of potatoes connected at the bottom so that I could make a Hasselback Potato, I ended up with passably thin potato chips.  Some were thicker than others, most were translucent.  I guess I have a heavy hand when it comes to that kind of precision slicing.  Still getting used to how sharp these knives are myself.

I put the potato slices in a plastic bag, then added two tablespoons of olive oil.  Shaking the bag I made sure they were coated.   That yielded two servings, 250 calories a piece.

Standing at the stove, I thought.  Now, that never is a good thing.  Either put them on a sheet of aluminum foil, or try to pan fry them.

It’s May in Florida.  Mid to upper 80s that day.  A bit warm to put that much heat in the house by running the oven, I got out the Electric Griddle.

Potato Chip Nirvana?

Not quite.  The thinnest ones cooked almost immediately, the thicker ones were a bit soft in the middle.  I did this by eye.  Once they started to brown up, I flipped and repeated.  The entire griddle was covered with little “coins”.  Golden coins of Potato Goodness.

Muwahahah, My mind thought!  If Only It Were Real!  Right, Scrooge McDuck?

I think they took about 3 minutes to cook per side, this was the fastest way I had ever discovered to make potatoes, and since I controlled the oil, I could control the calories.

Luckily, I had a “small” breakfast that day.  Only 400 calories when I budget 600.  Yes, I count EVERYTHING.

I “snuck” a chip.  Needed a wee bit of salt.  But… these were GOOD.

I tried another one.  Another, and another.  I was in trouble.  There went my 200 calorie cushion.  I stopped midway through the cookie sheet.  I was like the cookie monster with these chips.  Fresh off the griddle, they were good!

I washed up the griddle, cleaned up the kitchen and walked away.

At lunch time I devoured the rest.  Ok, so the thick ones were cold and not crispy, the thin ones were crunchy but this was a start. “Ten out of Ten I’ll do it again!” I told myself.

Next time… Thinner!  Yeah that’s the ticket!  Thinner!

I had once had an actual company tour at a potato chip factory years back.  They fry their chips in an oil bath.  Seemed to me a bit imprecise, but they also got a more uniform and predictable result.   If you want to take shortcuts you’ll end up with variations.

That’s what I see in every recipe I have made.  This one was shortcutted from the start.  I was playing in the kitchen, entertaining myself with food.

I know many people who say they can’t cook or won’t try.  It’s all about giving yourself the freedom to fail.  If Failure Is An Option, Success comes with a Gift of Knowledge.  Mom was wrong, Play With Your Food!  Go ahead!  You may just find that you are learning a valuable skill for your future.

Oh sure, there are people who never use their kitchens, save for storage.  Hanging their laundry where they should be browning meat, or some other such activity.  Silly people, you’ll never know!

In the meantime, I have to plan out a pork dinner.  Cooked to 145F.  Now, what kind of cuisine?  Mexican?  American?  Chinese?

That’s what I gave myself years ago, the joy of allowing myself to come up with a mistake from time to time.  You never know what you’ll get when you experiment, do you?