Andrew Zimmern I am NOT! Murder by Mutton…

imageLamb shanks. I bought them at our local grocery store. Two shanks in a vacuumed-sealed pack. I knew they were not from a young spring lamb. It was clearly mutton from an older sheep. I love mutton. Ewe know I do… Better flavor than a young lamb. Mutton is great for stews and roasts too. It cooks up with a lot of flavor.

It’s an acquired taste. If you don’t like baby or spring lamb then you definitely don’t want to try mutton.

As I opened the package at home to oven roast the shanks I was over come by the smell of piss and vinegar. The stench was so powerful that our French Mastiff Lucas wanted out and he wanted out NOW! Anything to escape the odor of what the amateur home cook would think was rotting meat. To Andrew Zimmern that pungent could only mean one thing. Ram mutton.

Rams are known to drink their own urine. It ends up flavoring the meat in a not so pleasant way. Basically it is a gross smell of all gross smell cuts of meat. Probably why the shanks were vacuumed-sealed to begin with. Grocery stores can sell any type of meat from young veal to old culled sheep and cows that no longer useful. You don’t always know the age of the animal or its sex. It doesn’t mean the meat is bad or unsafe for human consumption. It just means that you may end up with a tougher cut of meat with a stronger smell that can, well, knock you down.

I, opening my lamb shanks, just got head-butted in the nose by a ram! Pee ewe! Somebody sent an older male sheep to slaughter.

Okay I spent good money for these shanks. I roasted them with fresh bacon strips to absorb the… Um… Male odor. I topped them off with brown sugar and freshly squeezed juice from an orange to counteract the ram’s rankness.

When they were done, perfectly cooked to a golden brown, I plated the smaller of the two and sat down to eat it. OMG. OMG. Did I just say OMG? Twice? Trice? Oh yes I did. That first bite was beyond belief. The pungent smell was nothing to the taste of it.

It was divine!

Now I understand his Bizarre Food episodes when Andrew says that a meat which smells so bad can taste oh so good. It was. The dog still didn’t want in however. He was not getting a bite. At least not from me. He stayed outside.

After I finished cutting the last piece of meat off the bone and cleaned up the kitchen, Ed walked in the house. He just came home from work. The ram rank was still permeating throughout the house. Ed got hit full-faced with it before he even entered the kitchen. Pee ewe! “What class did you fail?” came out of his mouth referring to my just starting Rouxbe’s online cooking school.

Mutton dear.

Mutton my eye wife. What did you kill and left to rot?

Mutton dear.

Well get it out of the house honey. NOW! I’m getting sick.

Lucas still sits at the patio glass door not begging to come in.

I wrapped up the other shank in plastic then handed it to Ed for the outside trash. The smell followed him out of the house. The dog wanted in. I let him. Ed returned then commented that he hopes I live. He was worried that by morning I would be dead from murder by mutton. I survived. This blog is evident to that. Aunt Weenie wrote this. Tis I.

Culinary lesson for the day…

If you buy lamb and it does not state young spring lamb on its packaging then have the meat counter staff open it up. They can always rewrap it for you to buy. Smell up the meat department in the store instead. Because if ewe don’t like mutton ewe won’t have to bring it back or cook with Febreeze as your main spice. And ewe won’t know if it is a ewe or ram until ewe smell it.

Andrew Zimmern I am NOT!

“What cancer cannot…”

“Cancer can destroy the body but it cannot kill the heart”

This has been my life mantra since January 17, 2001 which is the date of my double mastectomy. I wrote it to remind myself that I may lose parts of my body to the disease but that disease was no way in hell going to take my life dreams away from me. Especially the baseball.

I just finished my rookie year in baseball when at the end of it playing the sport with the men that my mammogram came up positive with two breast tumors. Boy was I ever mad! I worked so hard all my life to play baseball and now even my own body was denying me the right to make my dream a long time reality.

And yes I do live by my own words…

Mile High Pancakes

Rouxbe 101 The Basics: Mile High Pancake Lesson

For beginning the culinary arts at Rouxbe.com, the school’s first basic knowledge lesson is about Wheat and Wheat Gluten. It is designed with a self-assessment test of your own knowledge about wheat before they present you with the first cooking lesson with flour to give you a mental test drive of their school. You lock in your answers. There is no cheating or redos.

I used Krusteaz Honey Wheat pancake mix because my husband and I limit our eating of white flour recipes so we don’t keep any flour in our kitchen. The mix is made with an all purpose flour and did serve the purpose of this lesson perfectly.

I mixed the box mix and water lightly. I then separated 1/3 of the mix into another bowl and timed my whisking the batter by hand for exactly two minutes. I let the rest of the other bowl batter sit for the five required minutes. I had Ed, my husband, griddle both batters while observed this.

1. The over mixed batter stayed dense while on the griddle and did not spread out. They were smaller pancakes. Transferring them to the plate they felt like rubber. I then cut one in half and felt it hard to slice it. I propped the cut cake up so I could photograph its texture. It was dense.

2. The lightly mixed batter sat and waited for the over mixed batter to finish cooking. It poured easier fom the bowl to the griddle. It also spread out into four perfectly rounded cakes. They bubbled and rose very well something that the over mixed batter did not do. When they were done to a golden brown perfection I plated them the same way as the over mixed cakes. As I cut the lightly beated mix in half it cut smoothly with ease. Its density was light and airy.

3. I put the two cut cakes propped up next to each other. The difference was obvious immediately. OM was thinner but dense. LM was way more thicker and porous in its density. I took a picture of them side by side for comparison.

4. Eating them. There was definitely a taste difference. The OM was terrible, tasted rubbery and lost flavor. The LM on the other fork was an eating pleasure. It tasted good. Just plain good. Even when we put peanut butter on Ed’s plate of both mixes and I put my homemade strawberry freezer jam on my plate of cakes they did not improve the eating and tasting experience of the OM cakes. But OMG to LM did they enhanced those cakes! Move over Emeril because we kicked it up four notches with the LM.

5. In conclusion over mixing your flour beats too much gluten out of the flour even for Krusteaz’s box mix. That really ruins the whole griddle and tasting pleasure. Sucks it right out of the tater leaving a rubber duck to chew on. So keep your wrist light when whisking your pancake batters or another batter you are cooking with. Heavy-handers need not apply for kitchen duty unless you are taking out the trash. In this case the over mixed batter was the trash….