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isn't quite ashamed enough to present

jr conlin's ink stained banana

:: Now I’m Cooking with ~Gas~ Induction

A while ago, someone pointed out that you can get an induction burner from IKEA for around $70 i’ve been induction curious, since i’ve never tried one before, so i bought one.


So, with all the discussion about induction and people coming for your stoves, no one bothered to explain to me the mechanics. They’re… not what you think. i’ve been cooking with a gas stove for decades, and this is very different.

Allow me to try and best explain what’s going on.

Let’s say you have a resistive electric cooktop. Electricity goes in, then heats up the coil using resistance to the point where it generates radiative heat. That heat, depending on the make and style, then either gets passed up into the cooking surface or contact heats the pot. Since it’s radiative, heat goes in all directions so only a percentage of the heat goes into the cooking vessel.

Gas works pretty much the same way, only more so. It combusts producing heat that is then dumped into whatever happens to be near by. Since convection is a thing, most goes up into the vessel.

It’s important to note that the heat in both of these cases can go around the vessel. Gas is far worse at this than electric, and anyone who’s cooked with gas will tell you to mind the flame so that you’re not making the pot handles too hot.

Induction doesn’t do any of that. Induction produces heat in the vessel directly via fun electromagnetic forces. This means that the wattage you ask for, goes into the vessel with very little being wasted. That’s absolutely not the case for resistive electric and gas.

When i boiled water using a pot i’ve used hundreds of times in the past, the handles were cool. Possibly for the very first time in that pot’s lifetime. As a fun bonus, the surface of the cooker cooled rapidly once the pot was removed because it was not the source of heat.

i’m interested in trying it with a few other cooking styles, but i’m going to guess that it’ll do just fine.

i am now very sad that induction cooktops were crap when i redid my kitchen 10+ years ago. Joe can absolutely come for my gas stove.

Much like can openers, things have absolutely improved.

:: Performative Cooking

Recently, i was reminded that there are a large number of people who do “performative cooking”. They absolutely need a recipe, which they follow religiously, and have no real idea how the magic incantations and gesticulations produce edible substances to consume. They fear deviation.

Please, don’t be a person like that.

Ok, Baking is physics and chemistry, so it’s a bit less forgiving, but cooking (in the more general sense) isn’t like that at all. Recipes, in those cases, are examples. They’re suggestions of things to do and ingredients to use in order to produce things that the author of the recipe liked. Your palate will absolutely differ. (For instance, i am not a fan of excessive fats. i hate mayo, am fine without all the bacon grease, and don’t pour tons of butter on things. You may be the opposite, and that’s OK. i will not cry if you change a recipe on me.)

i know this because of a discussion i had with some relatives while they made a “low country boil”. They were following an aged recipe in which they carefully measured Old Bay, and were desperate to find where the Bay Leaves were.

i asked them “So, what does Bay taste like?”

“i dunno. The recipe has it.”

This is the wrong answer. Actually, the wrong answer is bay leaves in general since they really don’t give a whole lot of flavor, and the flavor they do give is a mix of tannin. You could get the same effect by adding a pinch of black tea, plus you don’t have to fish the inedible leaves out. i know this because one night i got a bunch of spices, grabbed a pinch and sucked on each of them for a good couple of minutes to understand what the difference between oregano and parsley was (there’s a lot). It was a completely unpleasant experience. Granted, that’s lead to a fun party trick where i can take a mouthful of something and work out most of the ingredients because that night got seared into my mind.

When you make something, you should always be asking “How can i make this taste better?” Knowing what stuff tastes like helps tremendously in that. Likewise, knowing that foods dramatically change flavors when prepared differently also helps. Shrimp tastes different when you boil, steam, pan fry or roast them. (It has to do with how much water you remove, less water, more shrimp flavor.) Same with vegetables, meats, and all sorts of other things. That’s why Mexican and Indian cooks roast their spices, to draw out more of their flavors.

Honestly, their “low country boil” was ok. Basically it was boiled potatoes, onion, corn on the cob, “sausage” (hot dogs), and shrimp. Start by seasoning the water with Old Bay, another seasoning mix that was even more salt, black pepper, parsley and oregano. Boil the quartered potatoes and onions until the potatoes were soft, then add the “sausage” for about 5 minutes, and add the shrimp for about 3 minutes. Strain and serve. It tastes like Old Bay with hints of shrimp and hotdog. Not a favorite.

How would i do it?

i wouldn’t boil, for one.

i’d quarter red potatoes and linguica sausage and convection roast them at 400F while caramelizing some onion. Toss the corn on the grill (husk on, but silk gone), and let that cook up. Be sure to toss the potatoes and sausage so they get semi-evenly cooked. Once the potatoes start showing some nice brown color, pan fry the shrimp, ideally on an iron skillet with no oil (this will let them char nicely). Toss everything together, optionally dust with a mix of Old Bay (or my preference stirred chili powder, oregano, and sage) and serve with a brown mustard and either beer or a good wine and warm bread. The spices will bloom from the steam by the time that everyone is seated. Want it to be even better? Cook the potatoes at least 8 hours beforehand, then re-heat them while you cook the sausage. Yes, this is more work. You get out what you put in. There were a lot of reasons we didn’t do this one, but it definitely gave me ideas on how it could be better next time.

Same ingredients, VERY DIFFERENT flavors. i fully expect that you can come up with an even better version. Make small batches if you’re not sure. Make mistakes, and learn from them. Even burnt stuff can teach you flavors you didn’t know about and may love.

Kitchens are delicious playgrounds.

:: Meat Burger

There’s a restaurant called “Umami Burger” that bills itself as having crafted the ultimate umami flavor, delivered in hamburger form. i kinda held off going there for a while, not because i don’t appreciate the fine umami flavor, but mostly because it was sorta trendy and i’m not a fan of that. Time passes, as do crowds, and finally we decided to visit (this may have been spurred on by Anne Marie’s hangover, but that’s a different story).

Suffice to say, i wasn’t really impressed. It was a pretty good burger, presented stylishly and i will take away one good idea. Still, i’m a fan of my own.

First off, what the heck is “Umami“? In short, it’s what makes meat taste good. It’s also found in things like soy, tuna, Parmesan cheese, mushrooms, and a few other sources. It’s hard to define, much like trying to explain what “sweet” or “salty” tastes like, other than your tongue is hardwired to taste it, and some are more wired than others. (i’m one of those types.) Umami can be brought out generally by dry cooking methods that also reduce the fat content. Generally, the leaner something is, the more Umami it has. This kinda goes against a large portion of humanity which wants butter and fat, but hey, they can have their addiction if they’ll let me have mine.

Reasonably long time readers probably know my recipe. i’ve actually tweaked it a tad over the years, so here’s a much more detailed take:

JR’s Burger (KyÅ«kyoku no umami style)


(makes 4 burgers)

  • 1 lb(.5kg) 80+/20- course ground chuck
    You want a grind where you can distinguish bits of meat. Honestly the courser the better. You can also use leaner 90/10, but you’ll definitely need to blend in mushrooms.
  • 1/4 lb(.1kg) brown crimini mushrooms (4 large or 6 small)
    These are the baby versions of portobellos. While it’s possible to use whites, you won’t get quite the same hit. You can also use something fancier, but you’re putting it on a burger so you’re kinda wasting the taste of the mushroom. Crimini are a good balance between flavor and not going broke.
  • 1 yellow onion
    i find that yellows have more sugar in them when they cook down. Look for one about the size of a baseball. You won’t need a ton of onion here, and are using it mostly to flavor the mushrooms (although they go very, very well with the finished burger)
  • soy sauce
    Yeah, don’t use Kikoman here, unless it’s all you can find. i prefer going to the Asian markets and trying various types and have found a few that are fantastic. You want to look at the ingredients and go more for the ones that don’t have wheat in them. If you can find one that’s also flavored with mushrooms, get that.
  • tumeric (optional)
    You’ll only need a pinch for this. Tumeric can be a very powerful flavor, and can taste “chalky” if you add too much, in smaller portions, though, it’s pure umami.
  • sourdough rolls
    Feel free to use rye if that’s better, or pumpernickle if you can find it, or really anything other than a sweet, potato roll. (Really, you’re building something to hit the umami button, why are you trying to dilute it?)


Now that you’ve got your ingredients, start by getting a large bowl and washing your hands. You’re going to be getting wrist deep in beef, no reason to bring anything unsavory to the party. Now take the ground beef out of the fridge and putting it on the counter (wrapped).

You want it to warm up.

No, it’s not going to suddenly go bad if it reaches 50°F (10°C). (i mean, it would if you left it there over a warm summer night, but you’ll get to it in an hour or so. For now, just let it loosen up.)

Right, so where were we? Oh, right… slice up your onion, then brown it in a skillet over low to medium heat. i’d recommend sauteing them in olive oil, until they are light brown and practically falling apart. This Will Take Time! Do Not Rush Things! Feel free to use the time to wash and slice the Mushrooms.

Once the mushrooms are done, put them in a small bowl and cover with foil so they stay warm.

In the same pan, add the mushrooms and saute them over the same low to mid-heat. You should cover them at first, and listen to when the sizzle becomes less pronounced. Lift the lid and see how much liquid they produced. Feel free to deglaze the pan using that liquid if you like. In any case, you’re looking to give the mushrooms a golden brown sides to them.

Once they’re done, set them into their own bowl as well. Fire the grill up and now you can turn to the meat.

Mix in the soy (start with 1tsp, adjust later if desired) and optional tumeric (1/4 tsp at most), and mushrooms. You can layer the mushrooms on top later if you’d prefer, but i like them in the meat instead of squirting out of the bun. Mix well, then form into equally sized balls. Flatten into patties (with the center thinner than the edges).

Once the grill hits about 350°F (175°C), cook the burgers. (5 minutes, turn, 5 minutes, flip, 5 minutes turn, 5 minutes serve) i’m also a fan of using a cast iron fajita pan to griddle the burgers. Note that no oil, butter or other bits of grease are required (although if you’re using a brand new grill, you may want to add a bit of spray cooking oil).

i serve on lightly toasted rolls with dill pickle and topped with some of the cooked onions and brown mustard. Your tastes are different, so feel free to use whatever, but i will not look kindly upon your use of ketchup.

i’ll also note that there’s a lot of room for experimentation here. That’s a good thing. Make yours better.

And with that, i’ve just saved you $40 (191,534 Dogecoin).

You’re welcome.

:: Fáilte Dining

Ah St. Paddy’s Day. A day when everyone is a bit Irish and tuck into a taste of the Emerald Isle.

Well, no, not really. No sane, sober person would, but let me explain a little about why i tend to enjoy Pasta or Thai instead of Corned Beef and Cabbage.

First off, let me introduce you to my Grandfather. That’s him, tending the bar that he ran for a few years in Brooklyn. Sadly, the pub he ran closed, partly due to his tendency to be more generous than business savvy, but that did have one interesting side-note.

Far more often than my Grandmother appreciated, he’d come home with someone he’d met while at the pub. His arms would be filled with unusual ingredients and he’d usher his wife from the kitchen and away from the shortbreads and creamed tripe stew, and soon the apartment was filled with exotic scents and tastes from strange and wondrous lands, like Germany or Italy. My sainted Grandmother generally hated whenever he did this, but my Mom and her siblings didn’t.

Irish cooking tends to “use everything but the grunt”, and they pretty much mean it. Traditional Irish country food tends to use a, frankly, terrifying amount of pork, cabbage and potatoes, most of it boiled in pots above peat fires. One need remember that it was the loss of the Potato that pretty much devastated the country and lead to massive starvation. This was not a country with a wide and varied diet. Special occasions might include a bit of roasted lamb, but that tended to (literally) eat into the export business.

This might also explain why folks drank, but only a wee bit.

Mind you, modern Irish cuisine is a helluva lot better now and has even included things like fish and beef. i’ll also note that Irish have taken to, ahem, “embracing the foods of other cultures” with a surprising enthusiasm to those not familiar with traditional fare.

So, aye, i’ll not be partaking of the bacon knot and cabbage this year (or the next), and i prefer my corned beef peppered and sliced thin from the deli counter. i’m not exactly sure how many shepherds kept meat grinders in the dairy, either.

Still, raise a glass and a toast. To my ancestors from Roscommon, Tabhair dom ar ais ar mo dhia damanta caorach, bastaird tú!

:: Jelly Topped Thumb Scones

Anne Marie is attending a Ladies Holiday Cookie Exchange. Aside from this blatant sexism and exclusion of men, (a Real Man’s place is in the kitchen, with the knives and fire and meat and stuff) she’s decided that she’s not going to bring some of my Chocolate Chip Cookies.

This means that i she has to find another recipe for the cookies i she’ll bring. She is a fan of thumbprint cookies so we figured that would be what we’d go for.

Mind you, there are many different types of thumbprint cookies. Most tend to be sugar cookies with a big dollop of jelly in the middle. Nice, but often a bit overly sweet. i prefer more of a shortbread base. Of course, if you’re going to do a shortbread, you could cheat a bit and do a quickbread. And if you’re familiar with all the sorts of things you can do with quickbread….

Right, so this is both easy, and kind of a pain in the ass. There aren’t many ingredients and things go quickly, but preparation temperature is more important than it normally is.
Let’s start with the goods:


  1. 1 cup (125g) flour
  2. Pinch salt
  3. 1/4 tsp (~1g) Baking Powder (not Baking Soda)
  4. Nutmeg to taste (i go for about a tsp/4g)


  1. 1 egg yolk (Save the white, you’ll need that later)
  2. 1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
  3. 1 stick (4oz/118ml) butter (room temp)
  4. 1 tsp (healthy splash) vanilla

Ok, so let’s make cookies:

  1. Sift together dry ingredients into separate bowl.
  2. Cream butter and brown sugar together
    Pretty straight foward. i dice the butter into smaller chunks, but you don’t have to.
  3. Add yolk and vanilla
    Beat until blended and fragrent
  4. Add dry to wet in batches
    You’re looking for biscuit method here, so don’t overmix. Things should just come together, and stop. There should even be a fine crumb at the bottom of the mixing bowl.
  5. refrigerate dough for 30 minutes
    This is surprisingly important and will add to the flakiness.
  6. While dough is in the fridge, heat oven to 350° on convection.
    Oven will beep that it’s ready before 30 minutes. That’s fine, it’s lying to you anyway. You want the walls to heat up too so that things bake evenly.
  7. Line (preferably ventilated) cookie sheet with parchment
  8. Once dough has chilled, portion out in small balls.
    Be careful to work the dough as little as possible to keep it cold.
  9. Press thumb into center of balls to make a depression, fill with jam.
    It’s easier to do this if your thumb is wet. The dough won’t stick to it.
  10. Use remaining egg white as a wash for the top of the cookies.
    You can skip this, but the cookies will look kinda anemic.
  11. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until GDB
  12. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, or preferably longer.

Serve with tea, because you are not a barbarian. Of course, considering the amount of cholesterol in these, you may want to also serve Lipitor. i may work on a slightly more “heart friendly” version of these later.)

As always, this recipe is CC (like you could trademark a recipe anyway), so if you figure out any improvements, please share!

Blogs of note
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