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Syzygies last won the day on October 15 2022

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About Syzygies

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  • Birthday 11/29/1955


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    New York, NY and Concord, CA
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  1. I too have the JVR Vac100 and I love it. A generational advance over the chamber machine I had (and still have, other location). Call them? At a minimum, understand why they don't offer a 230v model now, and their future plans. Which parts would need to be replaced? The innards look easily repaired, like a 1950's car.
  2. The official cold smoker (which I own) and my smoke pot have the same goal in mind. One best meditates on the difference between careful smoke and "chunks of wod on the fire" by getting stoned out of one's gourd on cannabis. Actually, twice. Once rolling a joint, and once using a modern vaporizer. Notice a difference? Same story.
  3. Yes. Takes more stock than a vacuum pouch, but the stock gets better... It recently dawned on me that the Vermicular Musui Kamado ("indoor K") is ideal for making Japanese dashi stock. One wants to bring kombu seaweed to a near simmer without boiling it, remove, then give the bonito flakes a controlled simmer in the same liquid. The Musui makes this easy.
  4. I can get really good artisanal chickens at The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley. Our favorite preparation is the signature Zuni Cafe Chicken, which would be amendable to this modified technique. Harder in to find great birds in New York City. I've been twice to Yakitori Kono, and that's the best chicken I've ever had. He spent six months searching before contracting with a Pennsylvania farmer; here's a video of his operation: How Chef Atsushi Kono Makes Chicken Skewers From Wings to Testicles — Smoke Point Westermann clearly has a few gallons of stock simmering when he needs it. I sometimes do, but this is an ideal application of sous vide: Thaw one freezer packet of stock, and vacuum pack it with the bird, then cook in a water bath as indicated. The stock gets better, same effect on the bird as a bath in a huge stock pot.
  5. Yes! I own one in each kitchen. It's pretty simple: We cook anything in it that makes sense to cook in an enameled cast iron Dutch Oven, and where feedback (constant temperature rather than constant energy flow) makes sense. Once one gets the point of an autopilot in the kitchen, it's hard to romanticize fiddling by hand inside. I'd much rather fiddle by hand outside. It's called fire.
  6. Cooking with EVOO reduces stress.
  7. There are multiple brands of this style: Klein Tools 12 in. Hack Saw with Aluminum Handle The point is that one can adjust the tension, and achieve higher tension than with more basic models. There are similarly many brands of "good" blades. I'd go as fine-toothed as I dared, keeping in mind the theory that coarser blades clear more easily. I'm just not convinced that's enough of a factor. Freezing works, but makes for much more work. If you can figure a way to squish the meat against a vertical plane, you might make quick work of raw meat? What we both really want is a Berkel (bone the meat first!) Berkel 300M-STD 12" Prosciutto Meat Slicer We just don't have that kind of stupid money. Some restaurants buy these partly because they do work really well, partly because they can set the ambience for the entire restaurant.
  8. I own a Vermicular Musui-kamado in both kitchens. We have beans soaking now, ready to start soon. I always make nixtamal in the VK. Many stews, such as lion's head meatballs... A good analogy is adaptive cruise control for cars. Some people can't imagine why one would want such a thing, even some people who own cars so equipped. We're so used to, um, what do you call it? driving, that we become inured to the annoyance workload of manually guiding a car. We probably think of commercial pilots as flying the plane, when they're primarily system managers who can step in to fly as needed. Fiddling with the heat while cooking is the same idea. Some of us use barbecue controllers and can leave for errands after starting a cook. Others watch their KK get up to cruising altitude, marveling over how easily one can manually control a KK. And there goes an hour. My point is that as a good cook one isn't really conscious of the time sink that fiddling with temperatures represents. The energy needs of a dish evolve as the dish cooks. Providing a set flow of energy is fundamentally different from maintaining a set temperature; the latter adapts as the dish cooks. I choose the VK whenever I want autopilot. As a rule, I don't feel comfortable with any technology till I stop thinking of it as special. Cookbooks are for dinner parties? Um no, we like to eat well on Tuesday nights. A sous vide water bath and chamber vacuum is for Michelin skyscraper food? Um no, it's a more reliable way to tenderize and cook steak, or lamb shanks, or... Of course when I want excitement I finish over fire.
  9. It has taken me most of my life to truly appreciate this, but there isn't a saw tool category sold without a "better" version ignored by people who think all saws are the same, and there isn't a saw tool sold that doesn't benefit from a very careful choice of aftermarket blade. While my wife insists for environmental reasons that we ride out the OEM tires on new cars, a careful aftermarket choice is always an upgrade, whether one wants performance, a quiet ride, or simply making it less likely to die in the rain. One should similarly think of the blade that comes with any saw as like the "starter" toner cartridge in a new printer. Conventional advice is tuned for average needs, for people working in haste on a budget. I generally replace track saw blades and such with a blade that makes the smoothest cut I can tolerate teasing out, working slower than a production shop. My favorite example is a jigsaw. I owned a cheap hand-me-down that convinced me the category was crap, jigsaws are just small reciprocating saws with a reference plane, good only for demolition. Then I bought a decent Dewalt jigsaw, and started playing with blades. Often one does want a stiff, wide blade, but for scrolling, this blade can do finished curved work that would make Michelangelo happy: BU2DCS-2 Dual Cut - Wood Cutting Jig Saw Blade As for cutting frozen meat with a hacksaw, the best mainstream hacksaws have excellent tension control, and can be strung with the force of a piano string. I keep one of the best blades I could find just for cooking. The quality range I've experiences with hacksaws is every bit as wide as the quality range I've experienced with jigsaws. Anyone, be sure you're experiencing top-of-the-market quality for your chosen tool, before investing time, space, and money on a more complex tool you might not need.
  10. Glad to see all this hot sauce fermenting! To be clear, I never claimed that Kahm yeast is dangerous. No one should be afraid of Kahm yeast, nor should they discard a batch where it appears. I claimed that I can taste the difference, and I prefer ferments where there is no visible Kahm yeast. This could be a coincidence: No Kahm yeast could be a side effect of the technique that lead to my best ferments, not a determining cause. Still, I've tossed too many ferments of cabbage and such, recognizing I can do better buying at the farmers market, to shake this association.
  11. I've been making fermented Louisiana-style hot sauce regularly since 2005. I have some controversial views: Botulism is unlikely but possible. Most cases are people who don't know what they're doing, but think they do. For example, there are many cases in Alaska after fermenting in seal skins was replaced by fermenting in plastic Home Depot pails. C. botulinum cannot grow below a pH of 4.6, which can be achieved with mere tablespoons of vinegar in a large batch. This inhibits anxiety but not the fermentation process. I own a pH meter and typically bring my pH down to 4.2. Needless to say, this is heresy on fermentation forums. I have nearly always managed to avoid mold through scrupulous technique, and I don't like the taste as well when there is mold. I'd bet half my retirement savings that when there's visible mold on top, a sample from the bottom will be completely infested when viewed under a microscope. Scrupulous technique here means a sterile carboy with the chiles just submerged in brine, and a beer-making airlock as a one-way valve to ensure the gas in the carboy ends up mostly CO2. I have an argon tank for preserving wine, and I've considered using it to flush my carboy at the start, for the initial stretch before CO2 from fermentation flushes the carboy. I've been meaning to try a new technique I read somewhere, also guaranteed to remove unwanted oxygen and well-suited to arbitrarily small batch sizes: Vacuum pack the chiles with salt and a bit of fermentation starter, such as live kimchi liquid. Use a very large bag, as it will fill with CO2 from the fermentation. These suggestions go hand-in-hand: The hacks who chased me away from fermentation forums are going to be fine, as long as they know and use exactly the techniques their ancestors used in eastern Europe. Any idea that achieves an unheard-of modern efficiency at ridding the oxygen implicated in mold is an idea that C. botulinum may thank us profusely for having. So test the pH.
  12. FOGO Super Premium Lump Charcoal (35lbs) Two birds with one stone here, breaking advice from both Dennis and Fogo. Dennis describes the issue. A primary use of our KK these days is high temperature baking (bread, pizza, Focaccia di Recco). Dennis let me buy a gas burner; he figures I know what I'm doing. The solution is to use a very large charcoal such as the above Fogo. Yes, all surfaces light, but the surface-area-to-volume ratio makes for a nice window to bake at pizza temperatures before the fuel exhausts itself. With more typical charcoal the fire burns too hot and fast, as Dennis explains. He's right; ask me how I know!
  13. So my eight year old VacMaster VP115 can still be coaxed to do an excellent job. The "gas shocks" no longer hold up the lid without help, and the ribbon switch gets confused after the jolt of releasing the vacuum, and starts a new cycle. Anyone who can remove and keep track of twenty screws can repair this thing by swapping parts, assuming one can get the parts. That is no longer the case. I'll probably take it apart again and bend the ribbon switch so it's further from critical, but the "gas shocks" are apparently custom. I could live with this, or give it to a friend until I retire and give him its replacement. From the above discussion, I'm most tempted by the JVR: JVR Vac100 – Chamber Vacuum Sealer I figure my amortized cost of the VP115 was $86 per year, which I more than saved because 4 mil chamber vacuum sealer bags cost less than FoodSaver bags or substitutes. There are two credible reasons to prefer an external clamp machine: They take less space, and using a continuous roll one can seal lengthy foods such as fish that don't fit in a chamber. In grad school a friend explained how the second time he ingested psilocybin he had to fight a profound gag reaction. My dog struggled similarly when we took her to the vet. In transition to a chamber machine, I felt a revulsion beyond my conscious control to finding textured FoodSaver bags in the chest freezer. Discard or repack. The difference with a chamber machine isn't intellectual, it's visceral.
  14. I have indeed made vinegar for decades. I've found red wine vinegar to be easy, and white wine or dessert wine to be inexplicably challenging. I've nevertheless found interesting uses for dessert wine vinegar, such as making batches of tamarind paste for Indian cooking. One can't easily place what I did, but it makes a difference. All facts about vinegar-making are in dispute, so read critically and experiment. One wants a good mother, or it's enough to drop in an ember from the KK. One needs to neutralize sulfites in wine by adding 1/2 tsp hydrogen peroxide per bottle (that H2O2 bottle in the cupboard is probably flat), or it doesn't matter. I used to use a beer-making glass carboy, with the opening covered with cheeesecloth. I have since fallen in love with French cooperage barrels targeting vinegar; I have four 3L barrels, two on each coast. One can draw vinegar as needed, rather than making a production of pouring off bottles for use. It is mandatory to get stainless steel spigots; the charm of the wooden spigots is quickly lost when they fail, leaking everywhere. Does enough oxygen get in? Probably, but people who say so may be actively adding leftover wine all the time. It can't hurt to lift the lid whenever you think of it. Allary oak vinegar barrels Vinegar Shed (UK source)
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