We have a beautiful wrought iron, propane fire pit with glass marbles in the back yard. And in the house we have a gas fireplace with a switch on the wall. I love the thing. Last year, we vacationed in Taos, New Mexico. Killer trip. The ranch where Georgia O’Keeffe’s home is, and where City Slickers was filmed, is about an hour from there, and they give horseback tours of it all. It’s absolutely idyllic. There are charming museums, stores that sell fun metal sculptures from Mexico, the scenic Rio Grande Gorge Bridge where you can see goats playing, some neat restaurants, and it’s about an hour from skiing in Red River. The hotel we stayed at had a bocce court, and we could see prairie dogs playing all over out the back window. The room had an adobe fireplace in the corner that was amazingly efficient. My husband was in love with that thing. A year later, still having that urge to burn wood, he had to get a chiminea. That means I get to spend the same on a no reason kitchen toy. Awesome.
An Instant Pot? 8 quarts was really tempting, but I already had a really nice Cuisinart pressure cooker, so I couldn’t justify it. The vegetable cleaver I’d been eyeing? I’ve got a really nice knife collection, so I probably shouldn’t. A sous vide? I’ve been sous vide-curious for some time, and the little home versions had much smaller price tags than they used to. J. Kenji Lopez Alt had just posted about Maine lobster rolls using the sous vide. Yeah. I’d love a trip back to hike and eat lobster rolls in Bar Harbor again. Making real deal ones at home sounded fabulous. I ordered the Anova Sous Vide, a cook book to go with it, Lisa Q. Fetterman’s book, Sous Vide at Home, a plastic tub to cook in, ping pong balls to prevent evaporation, and a FoodSaver to get rid of air and seal it all up.
The Sous Vide is the second best thing I bought for my kitchen this past year. I bought a kamado-style grill this summer that’s keeping spot #1, but this thing’s really awesome. I call it Luke because it looks a bit like a lightsaber, and cooks everything in luke warm water (okay, that’s an exaggeration). The learning curve is minimal. It just involved 5 minutes of swearing from my husband as he connected it to Wi-fi, but he rather enjoys and is prone to swearing as he gets electronics going. There’s a little dial in the front that you can use to set the temp manually, but that’s only to one half of a degree. You can get to one tenth of a degree using the wi-fi.
I’ll go onto the my review of the book with my pics and thoughts on the dishes I tried in a bit.
The container’s perfect.
I’m on the fence about the ping pong balls. They work well to prevent evaporation. The problem is that any time you are putting food in or taking it out, the balls bounce all over the kitchen. They look like little Minions and the brand is Kevenz, so my kids think it’s hilarious to yell “Kevin” and run around the kitchen collecting them every time it happens. My dogs are interested, too. If I had a do-over, I might get a lid with a sous vide cut out. Yeah, they make those.
The FoodSaver’s unnecessary, but I wanted one for speed marination, and this was a fantastic excuse to grab one. I’m super curious about trying it with tofu. We love tofu, but it flavor can’t really penetrate it, only the surface gets flavor blasted. I can’t wait to see if this will get that done, but that’s an experiment for another day.
Here’s the link to the recipe for Connecticut Lobster Rolls on Serious Eats if you’d like to try. If you don’t have a sous vide and are feeling super adventurous, they give directions for a beer cooler turned sous vide hack. Sounds like something out of Myth Busters, no? 🙂
Here’s my review of the book…
Sous Vide at Home: The Modern Technique for Perfectly Cooked Meals
by Lisa Q. Fetterman
I absolutely love this book. The dishes I’ve tried involve quick prep while the Sous Vide heats up, then you pop the bag into the water and clip it on so it doesn’t sink to the bottom, do something else while it cooks, and then quickly finish it off on the stove or with a torch for searing, caramelizing, and flavor development. Wholly recommend.
1) My sous vide, a heat safe plastic tub, ping pong balls to stop evaporation, and eggs cooking away. Love everything but the ping pong balls. They fly all over the kitchen every time a food goes in or out. I might have chosen a lid with a cut out if I had a do-over.2) Eggs Florentine with No-Whisk Hollandaise Sauce – p 26. Easy and amazingly good. The egg texture is perfection. I used a whole bag of spinach and 9 eggs instead of 5 the second time.
3) Zingy Crushed Potatoes – p 190. Wow. Best potatoes ever. Ever.
4) Perfect Sous Vide Steak – p 145. This was the first thing I made in the book. I didn’t get a great sear with the pan heated up at medium high. I suspect that the author has a better stove than the builder grade one I’m rocking, so I’ll try high heat next time and see it that does it. I’ll update this then. Thought I’d mention it in case you have an average stove, too.
5) General Tso’s Chicken – p 89. Wonderful. It’s spicy, but not off the charts spicy. My daughter thought there was cardamom in the dish because of the floral notes of the Sichuan peppercorns.
6) Foolproof Garlic Shrimp – p 55. Terrific texture and flavor. I made peppers and onions and quartered a pineapple to go with it.7) Vietnamese Caramel Chicken – p 83. Delicious. Totally plate-lick worthy.
8) Vanilla Crème Brûlée – p 203. I love this technique for crème brûlée. There’s no guesswork about when you’ve achieved just the right level of wobble. I will never go back to the oven method.
Some other things I have flagged to try: Vietnamese Shrimp Summer Rolls – p 51 * Beer-Battered Fish and Chips – p 59* Butter-Poached Lobster with Cognac Sauce – p 56 * Jerk Chicken Wings – p 75 * Chicken Katsu – p 81 * Perfect Fried Chicken and Waffles with Honey Hot Sauce Syrup – p 93 * Duck Breast with Apricot Mostarda * Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwiches – p 133 * Carne Asada with Chimichurri Sauce – p 149 * Creamy Winter Squash Soup – p 173 * Beet Salad with Goat Gouda and Pistachios – p 174 * Carrots with Yogurt-Dill Dressing and Sunflower Seeds – p 177 * Sweet Potato Tacos – p 181 * Thai Green Curry with Winter Squash – p 186
I’ll update this as I play in the book more.