Bloat

In this case, I’m not talking about government bloat, but my own.  This fucking pointless lockdown caused by the Chinkvirus has quite enfattened me, not so much because of what I’ve been eating — okay, not that much — but because our gym has been closed for the past three months by our timorous apartment management.

I hate strolling, unless to a pub — but as the pubs have been closed as well, even that has been denied me.  AND we’re starting to approach the annual Texas Broil a.k.a. summer, so the desire to walk outside is lessened yet more.  Which means that New Wife has put her foot down and decreed that we will now be entering a period of No Sugar And Only Healthy Foods.  Fuck.

My coffee tastes like hot, rancid bilgewater and I can only imagine what weeks of salads and such are going to do to my already-tenuous control of my temper.  And I know, I know:

Me too.

I think I’ll just have to spend a lot more time at the range.  Which reminds me, I need to lay in a little more ammo, because reasons.

Rules

This article got me thinking — or rather, its title did:

Rules for a deconfinement dinner party

I thought about it for a while (about 30 seconds), and came up with Kim’s Rules For A Post-Lockdown Party:

  • invite a group of really good friends, or family members you get along with, or both
  • have an ocean of fine booze at the ready — in my case, Glen Morangie single malt;  Sipsmith gin;  champagne (for New Wife, her favorite tipple);  a case of Barefoot wines, in different colors;  two cases of decent beer;  a bottle or two of Tawny Port;  Richelieu brandy;  and whatever the guests want to drink (prearranged)
  • a huge rib roast (or leg of lamb), accompanied by roast potatoes and -parsnips, asparagus, and some other veg TBD by New WIfe, along with crusty French bread and farm butter;  with peach cobbler dessert and vanilla ice cream (dieters, vegans and teetotalers, needless to say, are persona non grata).

And that’s it. Good food, lots of booze and good company, all seated together round the dinner table at the proper social distance (12″-18″ apart), and have at it.

Of course, those are my ingredients for any decent dinner party, but let’s not get all bogged down with details.

Mystified

I understand why people use drive-through lanes to get their morning coffee en route to the office, even though I think it’s a mark of either stupidity or pure laziness when the “convenience” is nullified by long waits in the queue, e.g. in Britishland:

Motorists queued for hours to get a drink at Costa drive-throughs this morning, sparking fears people are ignoring lockdown measures as more high street chains reopen.
Tailbacks stretched around the block at takeaway chains in Edinburgh, Wakefield and Glasgow today as drivers waited to get their coffee fix.
At the weekend, eager customers queued for more than a mile to get a coffee at a branch in Snowhill Retail Park in Yorkshire as it reopened after more than a month on Saturday.

Costa makes decent coffee, but it’s not that  great.  (And don’t get me started on Starfucks’s burnt water concoctions.)

For those people who are not completely up to date on recent modern inventions, there are now things called “travel mugs” which allow one to make one’s coffee at home and take it to the office, where it can still be enjoyed hot.  Here’s an example:

… or, if one prefers to support one’s favorite coffee brand: 

Pro tip:   Plastic travel mugs are useless.  Nothing beats a decently-insulated metal one — unless you’re rich and can afford the Thermos (glass-interior) type.

Even better, brewing one’s own coffee at home allows one to use a decent brand of coffee — whether it’s the humble Dunkin’ Donuts Regular (still my favorite coffee, after thirty years):

  … or one of the “gourmet” (over-priced) offerings: 

In the old days, the only way to brew coffee was in a giant thing which made a large pot of the stuff — which, of course, is not the optimal choice when one needs only a single cup.  However, since the mid-1990s there has been another option, the single-cup home brewer:

…or, if one wants to feel all Italian: 

…which were once tied to the awful pods, but now allow one to use ground coffee in a small filtered device which — and I cannot express this strongly enough — enables one to brew coffee to the desired strength, and not as decided by some bored coffee-jockey.

I know that all this sounds terribly complicated, and really can’t compare with the joy of waiting for hours in one’s car, eventually to get a cardboard cup filled with overpriced coffee, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out at least a modest option thereto.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the Keurig.

Sidebar

More than a few of you have asked me to put my Biltong Prep post onto the permanent sidebar, so I have.

Just FYI:  I changed the spice measures ever so slightly, and also (based on the last batch I made) substituted red wine vinegar for malt.  Yum.  New Wife and I have actually had to measure out the sliced biltong into daily-ration portions, because we have absolutely no brake pedal on this addiction.

It should be called beefcrack and not biltong, except that sounds vaguely suggestive.

Weekend Food Prep

From exasperated Reader Lowkey:

Kim,
With much respect… DAMN YOU AND ALL SEFFRICANS for biltong. This stuff is just too tasty and easy to make.
I half-assed a batch (slice roasts into 1 inch-ish strips, soak in cider vinegar for a few hours, dredge in salt/pepper/coriander, then hang for a few days with an old computer fan running to circulate the air) and it’s fecking delicious. I’m gaining weight on what is supposedly a “survival food”.
Damn you.
Please, share with us your recipes for this (and your preferences for it… I seem to like my biltong a touch “wet”).

Actually, Lowkey’s “half-assed” approach isn’t at all bad.  Biltong bought online or at specialist food shops can cost up to $20/lb, or even more.

Make it yourself and it’s the per-pound cost of the meat from the supermarket (usually around $5 to $7).  It’s the gastronomic equivalent of handloaded vs. commercial ammo.

It’s been a while (years, actually) since I made biltong, but here’s the scoop on its preparation.

What you’ll need:

  • 1lb of boneless beef, whole (not sliced).  I like my biltong quite fatty because of the flavor and moistness of the fat layered over the dried beef;  your preferences may vary.  Just FYI:  filet, while tender, doesn’t make decent biltong because of the lack of fat.  Top sirloin or bottom round make the best biltong, I think.  Feel free to experiment to find your  favorite.
  • 8 tbsp red wine vinegar (brown apple cider vinegar can be used too).
  • 1.5-2 tbsp coarse (kosher) salt (some people like their meat salty, others less so.  I prefer less, so I use at most two tablespoons).
  • 2 tsp coarse ground black pepper (ditto as for salt;  too peppery makes it something other than biltong, but be my guest if you’re of that persuasion.  If you must  have it spicy-hot — South Africans refer to it as “peri-peri” biltong — then add ground red pepper flakes, but in moderation.  I don’t recommend it).
  • 2-3 tbsp whole coriander seeds (this  is what sets biltong apart;  I use 3).

Some people suggest adding brown sugar to the spice mix:  these are Satan’s minions, and should be roundly shunned if not actually flogged for their heresy.  Jerky  is a sweet meat snack for children, and we shall speak no further of it;  biltong  is a savory snack, and the food of the gods.

Spice mix prep:

  • Lightly toast the coriander seeds, then grind into a coarse powder (about the consistency of the black pepper);  if you have a few shell fragments left, that’s fine.
  • Combine all the dry spices until the mix has a uniform color and consistency.
  • Divide the mix in half.

Meat prep:

  • Slice the meat with (not against) the grain into broad flat strips about 1.5″ thick.  Try to have each piece include a piece of fat along the outside, although if the meat is well marbled, that’s fine too.
  • Pour the vinegar into a glass baking dish, then lay the strips down side by side, turning the meat strips over and over to get the vinegar well set into the meat.
  • Sprinkle half the spice mix over the strips and rub it in vigorously, then turn the strips over and add the remaining mix, rubbing as before.
  • Make sure that the pieces do not touch when you’re done.
  • Cover the dish (foil or plastic) and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  Most of the vinegar and spices should have soaked into the meat by then.

Drying the meat:

  • You’ll need an enclosed drying area such as a seldom-used household closet or even a mover’s garment box with some breathing holes punched in the top.  Biltong does not need warm air to dry — in fact, many of the biltong cognoscenti  will specify cooler temperatures — so an ordinary household climate will do fine.
  • What’s important is to circulate the air gently (Reader Lowkey’s use of an old computer fan is spot on), so run a small household fan into the closet/box and set it to its gentlest strength.  Do not direct the air flow at the meat or it will dry unevenly.
  • Hang the meat strips, making sure that they do not touch each other.  Use plastic-  or stainless-steel hooks — iron or wire will add a metallic taste to the whole piece of meat over time.  I use thick nickel-plated shower hooks, myself.
  • Put a tray lined with newspaper (the New York Times  is best — it’s about all it’s good for) underneath to catch any drippings.
  • Leave to dry for about two to three days, depending on the size of the slices*, then test the biltong by squeezing it gently.  It should be outwardly firm, but “give” a little as you press harder.  If it still feels “raw” (it won’t), then leave it for another six hours.  Feel free to cut a sample piece to check on the hardness.
    *Check the meat for mold each day.  There shouldn’t be any mold (tiny white spots) on the meat during the drying process, but if there are, wipe them off thoroughly with vinegar and just re-hang the meat.

Some people like their biltong to have the consistency of driftwood — I happen to prefer ostrich or game biltong that way — but the ideal beef biltong should be to have a firm outer crust, with softer meat in the center.  The longer you leave it hanging, the harder it will get.  Four days is about the maximum for “standard” biltong.  The dried strips should look something like this:

Cutting the biltong:

  • Biltong is hard meat to cut.  Make sure your knife blade is thin and extremely  sharp — my grandfather used to use a box-cutter*, and replace the blade for each batch.
  • Cut the strips across the grain (unless you want to spend an hour chewing each piece) as thinly as you can, to ~1/16″ to 1/8″ thickness.
  • If the biltong pieces are too fatty for your taste, just wrap them all in a paper towel and pat dry.

New Wife and I prefer our biltong “wet” (moist and fatty):

…while others may prefer it a little more dry:

It’s all good.

My suggestion is to cut all the strips into pieces, then store in a greased paper (not plastic) bag in the fridge.  It should keep about two to three weeks without any mold growing on it (not that it matters, because I guarantee you’ll eat it all inside a week anyway).  When New Wife brought a few pounds of it Over Here for her final Atlantic crossing, we made it last a full month (exercising massive  self-control), and the last mouthful was as delicious as the first.

As a survival food, it’s difficult to beat biltong.  Three or four small pieces constitute all your protein needs for a day.  When I was in the army, I used to buy a single stick of (very hard) game biltong from the commissary just before going off-base (so to speak), and I would consume it over a week.  I never went hungry, as long as I had a couple mouthfuls of biltong and a “dog biscuit” (hardtack) each day.

As snack food?  Oy.  I would remind everyone of Reader Lowkey’s complaint above.


*By “box cutter”, of course, I mean the old-fashioned and robust replaceable-blade kind:

…and not the “snap-off blade” type, use of which will just lead to frustration:


Legal notice:  I accept absolutely no responsibility for any ensuing addictions.

Whore Ding

I apologize for the Vox link, but this was too good to pass up:

Well, that kinda depends on what you mean by “country”, doesn’t it?  In fact, where you live, there might conceivably be a short-term stock outage of something — of something you actually need immediately, like salt or… toilet paper.

And “where you live” is the important part of the above.  It’s small comfort, when your local stores are all out of infant formula, to know that in North Dakota, Maine and Idaho, infants are well-fed and healthy while yours is starting to look like a Somali baby, and you’re starting to look at large-breasted women not with lust, but as a food source for your kids.

As for the “two to three weeks’ supply of food” canard;  oy vey.  Two or three months  is more like it (as all my Readers know full well by now), and fuck them and their “hoarding” — which is really just a euphemism for “someone’s got something that I don’t have, and I want the Gummint to take it away from them and give it to meeeee”.

Preparing for disaster is not hoarding, it’s prudence.  Of course, the Left is devoid of that quality because Marxism, deconstruction and envy.  Which brings us back to the Marxist tools at Vox.  The rest of the article is equally stupid, but unintentionally hilarious.