Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Springing Up

I enjoyed my preview of Springtime at the Ancestral Digs!

When I left Truckee Monday morning, it was just starting to the time I made it down to Auburn, my world had turned longer white, but showing the first blush of life.

Later, white knuckles were the order of the day as I skirted the Delta while the winds associated with the system's a wonder that everyone kept their vehicles in their own lanes. Fortunately, a potential ""D-Day on The Freeway was averted!

Once I crossed the Sacramento River at Benecia, the Contra Costa Hills were alive in vibrant green, and fruit trees everywhere were all in bloom. Beautiful! I breathed it all in, and felt a restorative wave course through my winter-weary body...I felt my disposition turn sunny in the span of a few hundred yards.

Mom made dinner while I napped, and I managed to stay up late enough to avoid Sleep Schedule Havoc later this week. I lounged around until 0900, before I hit the Garage to do some carpenter chores.

As I opened the garage door, and warmed up the Toyota, I heard the serpentine belt making noise...still. (I thought I fixed that last time I was in town!) Parking the car on the street, I realized that the noise wasn't the belt, but trees and hedges full of songbirds celebrating a warm morning! I instantly felt stupid...but sunny at the same time!

I knocked out my project, woke Mom up and jumped in the shower. Then it was off to the Church Luncheon. Of course St Patrick's Day was this month's theme. That meant one thing: Corned Beef and Cabbage, with carrots and home made Soda Bread on the side. Jacky, the dynamo who puts on the monthly luncheons did her usual bang-up job, and was suitably impressed when I told her of my Corned Beef Project in the brine back at the DaveCave. Bless her! Desert was a Mint Ice Cream Cake with a delicious Graham Cracker Crust...mmm, mmm, mmm!

Back at the digs, I made a couple of lists, and headed out to re-provision the Digs and the DaveCave. COSTCO, Health Food Store, Trader Joe's, Asian Market...Safeway can wait! Restocked with plenty of baking goodies, and ingredients for another Corned Beef (should the current experiment yield decent results), I hit the rack for a nap before making dinner.

After dinner, I touched bases with Sister Sweetly, and SturgUrge, who regaled me with his story of Pheasant Hunting in that "Delta Breeze" that bleached my knuckles on my drive down...yikes!

There's a few flurries in tonight's forecast, but the weatherman says no problem traveling up the hill in the afternoon Wednesday. These days off really have realigned my psyche, I even remember that I'm a Solar Powered Achiever now. Spring is less than two weeks away on the calendar, but we "Spring Forward" Sunday with Daylight Savings Time...

Spring I come!


  1. So, what sort of "corn" do you use? The coarsest salt (labeled as fit for human consumption) I have seen is Kosher, which taint all that coarse.

  2. I'm not sure the corn in corned beef stands for rock salt.

    The cup of coriander seed looked like miniature corn nuts to me...

    My brine had 2 1/2 lbs of sea salt boiled with 3 Cups of Dark Brown Sugar and the spices...the afore mentioned coriander, allspice berries, juniper berries, peppercorns!, cardamom pods, and whole cloves.

  3. That is what I meant by corn, the salt. "Corn" was the term used for coarse salt (or a coarse mixture of spices and salt) in merry old England. I suppose it was (is?) similar to coarse sand or coarse ground corn meal, or perhaps had grains as large as pepper corns.

    Lately I have been trying out coarse salts for seasoning. I haven't used salt to season with for decades, it just didn't seem necessary and I fell out of the habit of using it.

    I have been hoping to find salt as coarse as pepper corns that I could use in a pepper grinder. Rock salt is labeled not fit for human consumption and I haven't found anything coarser than Kosher.

    Kosher is used for brining but it has sodium ferrocyanate added to it to give it a distinctive texture. Sea salt is also often used in brining and contains other trace salts besides sodium, which makes it distinctive in its own right. I imagine Morton, non-idodized pure sodium salt for brine works fine too.

    Keep me apprised as to how your corned beef turns out. You are blazing a trail I would like travel myself.

    From what I have read, there are two processes in brining which is why it takes some time to complete. At first, while the salt content of the brine is greater than that in the meat, the salt (along with chemicals from the spices) is transported by the water into the meat.

    Then, when the brine salt content is lower than the meat, some of the salt (which is still in solution and has not been trapped in reactions with proteins and such) is transported back to the brine, lowering the salt content of the meat.

    Evidently, if you do not wait long enough for the second process to complete, you end up with meat in your salt, not some salt in your meat.