Category Archives: DIY Pictorials

How to Plant A Vegetable (Bucket) Garden

Not everybody has a yard big enough for a veggie garden, but I’m pretty sure everyone has a hardware store and garden center nearby, and that means you can pick up what you need for a veggie bucket garden! That’s right, screw the ground…where straight up planting veggies in a bucket and it’s easy, cheap, and beyond rewarding. Personally, nothing comes close to the feeling you get when you walk outside and pluck a juicy plump ruby-red cherry tomato off the vine of a tomato plant you grew…yourself…from seed…in a bucket.

Bravo!

Difficulty: EASY
Time: 35 mins (4 buckets)
Cost: ~$20

Get yourself:

  • 5 Gallon bucket(s)
  • Garden soil for vegetable gardens
  • Manure & Humus
  • River pebbles
  • Phillips screwdriver or drill
  • Seeds (I planted Tomato, Cucumber, Zucchini)
  • Tomato cage(s)
  • Gardening shovel
  • Garden gloves
  • Plastic knives
  • Sharpie marker

Let’s get to plantin’…

Grab some 5 Gallon buckets

They’re (dirt) cheap…like $3 ea.

Poke some holes in the bottom of the bucket, not too many or the water will drain right out…

Do like 10

(I know there are more than 10 holes, I effed up and my plant lost too much water…I had to replant in another bucket with fewer hole…live and learn)

Excess water drains out and roots don’t rot

Bag of this rock is cheap like $5

Used to aid in water drainage

Fill up the bottom 2″ of bucket with river pebbles

Garden soil

That’s a 2 cu. ft. bag – ~$6

I made 4 buckets and only used half the bag

Fill bucket ~3/4 full of garden soil

Pure nutrients – ~$4

A little goes a long way

I only used half the bag

Add manure and humus to almost fill the remaining .25 of the bucket

Break up any chunks of soil and manure

Mix to combine everything

Dig a small well in center of soil

Drop a few seeds in well

Cover well with soil

Put on glove, make a fist, and lightly flatten soil all the way around the bucket

Drop the seed packet on top so you don’t forget what you planted

Move on and assemble your other buckets

Genius idea…

Grab a plastic knife and sharpie

Label

Stick in the soil like you just usurped some foreign territory


Basic Care

  1. Water thoroughly
  2. Place in full sun
  3. Buckets dry out quickly so water often
  4. Check for bugs and bug damage. Use a natural insecticide if you have to

My buckets…

Beefsteak tomato, cherry tomato, and 8 Ball zucchini

Don’t forget to pop that tomato cage in the tomato bucket(s)

Mad Easy DIY Chicken Stock

I cut up some whole chickens and saved the backs and necks. I had about 2 lbs worth sitting in the freezer so I decided why not give this stock thing a shot. I checked out a few recipes around the web to get some ideas and then I delved into my stock adventure. I felt that making chicken stock should be uncomplicated and an easy way to reuse scrap parts. So, with that in mind, I set out to make my own…I grabbed my scraps, some veggies, fresh herbs, and spices and tossed everything in a pot with water and let it simmer for a long ass time. A couple of additional steps were needed to refine the stock, but nothing crazy…strain it, fridge it overnight, then bottle, bag, store, and freeze the next day. Dunzo.

Prep time: ~10mins
Cook time: ~8hrs + overnight chill in fridge

Get yourself:

  • ~2-3lb Chicken parts (backs, necks, leftover carcass, etc.)
  • ~1C White wine
  • ~6 Stalks celery
  • ~2C baby carrots or 4 whole carrots halved
  • ~6-8 Parsley bunches with stems attached
  • ~10 Sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 Cloves fresh garlic smashed and skin removed
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 Onion, top and bottom cut off and peeled
  • 1.5T Peppercorns
  • 1.5T Kosher salt
  • ~2Gallons water
  • Big sauce pot
  • Mason jar
  • Ziploc sandwich bags
  • Patience
  • A day when you can leave a pot on simmer for ~8hrs

Thawed chicken goes in pot

If you don’t have scrap chicken you can buy chicken backs at the supermarket…

…dirt cheap

Toss all of your veggies and herbs into the pot

Don’t kill yourself just rough chop, tear, throw in whole, who cares?

Toss in your peppercorns, salt, and bay leaves

Add in your wine and water

Water amount will vary depending on the size of your pot…

Don’t sweat it, just make sure it’s enough to cover all of the ingredients by at least 2″

Simmer for ~8hrs

Don’t boil (something about fat emulsification and cloudy stock)

When it’s finally done, strain all of it through a sieve

You can save the chicken and carrots, let cool, remove bones, and feed to dogs

My little guys loved it…

…nothing goes to waste!

(optional) Line sieve with mad layers of cheese cloth and strain again

Depends how fanatical you are…

Throw the stock pot in the fridge to cool overnight

Fat will harden on the top

Using a big spoon, skim all the fat off the top and trash it

You can strain again to get all the little fat pieces that get away from you…

…kinda like the last cheerio in the milk that you swear is intentionally swimming away from your spoon

Big bowl of stock

Time to store it…

Ahhhh…ladle some of that liquid gold into a glass jar

Freeze the rest

Here’s how…

Stuff a Ziploc sandwich bag into a 16oz cup and drape over

Grab your ladle

Fill with ~2 ladle’s worth of stock

Seal and set aside

Do this until all stock is used up

Store the Ziploc bags in a big Ziploc freezer bag

When you’re ready to use just take out to defrost

I ended up getting ~10 sandwich bags of stock…

Come on, how freakin’ easy is that?!

Stop wasting money on that garbage loaded with MSG and make your own!

…you’re welcome…

🙂

Roasted Peppers DIY

One thing I don’t like to do is buy food that I know I can make myself. It’s my inner evolutionary instinct for self-sufficiency, I guess. One of those foods that I rather make instead of buying is roasted bell peppers. Not only is it cheaper to make your own, but FAR tastier than their jarred counterpart. Roasting fresh bell peppers will yield a sweet, nutty, smokey flesh that can play the lead role or just be in the background of many dishes. One of my favorite ways to eat roasted peppers is with fresh mozzarella, I’m talking the real good quality stuff made fresh at a local salumeria. Just sprinkle some sea salt, cracked black pepper, and a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top and you have yourself an indulgent little appetizer.

Prep time: 2 mins
Cook time: 10-15 mins

Get yourself:

  • 4-6 Red bell peppers
  • 1 Clove fresh garlic smashed
  • 1 Clove roasted garlic
  • 1t kosher salt
  • 1t black pepper
  • 4T Good quality olive oil
  • Large Ziploc freezer bag or something to let the peppers cool in
  • Mason jar, 1 pint or quart depending on how many peppers you roast

Let’s roast some peppers!

Find yourself some nice big bell peppers with thick flesh

Remove stickers, rinse, dry

Line a cookie tray with foil and place peppers side by side

Set oven rack about 5 inches under broiler and turn broiler on

Pop under the broiler

Keep oven door slightly ajar using an oven mitt

Allow skin to blister and blacken

Remove from oven and turn peppers over

Blister and blacken entire outside of pepper

When peppers are evenly blistered and blackened…

Pop them into a Ziploc freezer bag or glass bowl

Seal bag or cover bowl and allow peppers to cool for ~30mins

While peppers cool, prep your jar that you’ll be storing peppers in

Smash one clove of garlic and remove skin

Pop into jar

If you have some…add one clove roasted garlic to jar

Peel skin from flesh then remove core and seeds

Dump peppers into a bowl with juices that collected while cooling

Tear flesh into strips

Pour the strips of roasted peppers and juice into jar

Pour a few tablespoons of good quality olive oil into jar

Add s&p

Stir gently to mix everything together

There you have it…

Your very own homemade jar of the best roasted peppers…

Ever

Period

Flank Steak Roulade

My peoples, I want to introduce you to my very dear friend. He never fails to impress and everyone wants a piece of him. His style is minimalist yet refined. He smells great and tastes even better, er…OK, enough with the analogy. Flank Steak Roulade is a game changer. It lets you bring the wow factor to the table without being downright arduous. Furthermore, it lends itself perfectly to a culinary imagination since it can be filled with anything that pairs well with steak…blue cheese and bacon; spinach, mushroom, and Swiss…I can go on and on, so I’ll just give you tools to create this roulade and leave the creativity to you. This dish is deceptively easy and once you get the hang of butterflying and tying you will be stuffing flank steaks for every occasion.

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep time: 25mins (this really depends on skill level)
  • Cook time: ~30mins (includes sear and oven time for medium rare)
  • Total: Let’s say an hour give or take

Get yourself:

  • 1 2lb flank steak
  • 1C Asiago grated
  • 1C Sharp Provolone grated
  • .5C Pecorino Romano grated
  • .5 C Seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1T Pesto (You can just chiffonade some basil if that’s easier for you; about 2T)
  • 1 Clove fresh garlic
  • 1-2 Cloves roasted garlic
  • 2T Fresh parsley
  • 2T olive oil
  • s&cracked pep
  • Kitchen twine
  • A good fillet knife
  • A digital meat thermometer
  • Meat mallet
  • Frying pan to sear the roulade
  • Baking dish

Let’s do this!

First things first preheat your oven to 375F

Gather your tools

Get your steak ready

Rinse and pat dry

Trim some of the fat off of both sides

Now it’s time to butterfly this bad boy…

Who’s coming with me?!

(CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR GREATER DETAIL)

Start with the flank steak perpendicular to you and with the thicker side to the left

Press your hand firmly on top of the flank

Pierce the top of the beef and carefully slice downwards

Use your hand as a guide to feel the knife as you slice downwards

At first I only slice a couple of inches into the flank

I repeat these steps until I’ve sliced deep into the flank and it begins to open up

Slice through carefully and the steak will open up like a book

Press down along the center, if it seems too thick then carefully slice to thin it out

If the entire steak is too thick then pound it to 1/4″ thickness with mallet

Guess what homie…

You just butterflied yourself a flank steak!

Boo-yah!

Time for a little massage…

Smash a fresh clove of garlic so it splits open

Rub the garlic on the inside of the beef for flavor

If you don’t have roasted garlic then rub fresh garlic on inside and outside

Otherwise, rub roasted garlic on outside of beef

Fresh in – Roasted out

Grab some of that flavor packin’ pesto and smear it all around

Cover entire surface area

Shred yourself a nice mountain of both cheeses and mix together

Go ahead, eat some…I know you want to.

You ready to stuff, roll, and tie like a champ?!

Spread on the cheese, sprinkle on the breadcrumbs and parsley (or basil if you opted for that)

Crack some pepper on top

Don’t forget the Pecorino Romano!

With the steak long ways, roll up like a jelly roll

Some of the stuffing will try to escape, just stick it back in

Lay roulade seam side down facing long ways

Cut yourself a few feet of butchers twine (better to have more than less)

Tie a knot at the top of the roll

Hold string in left hand and with your right hand slide string under roll

In your left hand you’ll have a loop and the remainder of the string in your right

Take the string in your right hand and feed it through the loop in your left

Pull the string in your right hand down towards the beef to tighten the knot

If the knot is off-center just gently shift the string and re-tighten

Follow the same loop and pull technique down the length of the roulade

Tie off the end with a strong knot

Rub some olive oil, salt, and pepper on the surface

Heat up a frying pan with the 2T of oil

Once the oil starts to smoke quickly add the roulade and sear

You should have a nice dark brown sear all around

Pop the roulade into a baking dish and into the oven

If you have a meat thermometer, pierce it into center of roulade

It’s perfectly cooked to medium rare when internal temp is 140F, ~30mins

Remove from oven and put a foil tent over roulade for 5mins…

this allows the juices to redistribute

(Sorry no pics of this process, but it’s straightforward)

When roulade is done resting…

Snip the long piece of string running the length of the roulade

Slice the roulade into 1.5″ thick portions with twine still wrapped around so it stays together

Bad ass, oozy, cheesy, juicy, tender, flavor packin’ pinwheels

Add the pinwheels back to the baking dish with all of the juices

Ohhh’s & Ahhh’s:

“I feel like I’m eating the greatest meatball evah!”

“OMG, this is so good!”

“Dude, what the heck this is ridiculously delicious!”

“Joe, you Tony Tigered this %&!*, it’s Greeeeat!”

Go make this ASAP. They will nominate you for a James Beard

Thank me later…

Variations:

  • Bacon and blue cheese
  • Spinach, mushroom, and Gruyère
  • Provolone, peppers, and onions
  • Slice the roulade into pinwheels before cooking and throw them on the grill
  • Marinate the flank in your favorite marinade then stuff

How To Cut Up A Whole Chicken

Whole chickens are cheap…so why not learn how to cut one up instead of having to buy the pre-cut and pre-packaged stuff that’s more expensive per pound?

Here’s a quick pictorial to get you going…

Get yourself:

1 Small Whole Chicken (3-6lbs)

A good chefs knife

A good pair of kitchen shears

Ziploc labeled “Chicken Parts for Stock”

Extra Ziploc freezer bags for storage

After you get past the fact that you’re about to carve up a whole chicken…

Wash your hands and rinse chicken under cool running water then pat dry

Do a little dance with the chicken

Lay chicken breast side up

Pull the goodies out of the cavity and save the neck for stock

Ready for your first cut?!

Grab a hold of the wing and let the chicken hang to loosen the joint

Carefully slice the skin around the joint

Place chicken down and pull wing back to expose joint

Cut through the joint to separate

Same thing on other side

Firmly hold the chicken by its leg and let the body weight of the chicken loosen joint

Cut around skin and place chicken on board

With a firm grip, crack the thigh joint and cut through to separate

If you like, separate the thigh from the leg

Same thing on other side

Now you’re left with the main cavity

Place chicken breast side down…

Detach the back  with kitchen shears and throw in stock bag

Now you’re left with the breasts still intact

Flip breasts right side up and firmly press down on chicken with both hands to crack breast-plate

Flip over to expose inner cavity and with the butt of your chefs knife cut through to separate

That was easy

Use right away in your favorite chicken dish or just freeze.

And don’t forget about the chicken parts…make homemade chicken stock on a lazy Sunday!

Butter (I can’t believe it is!)

I channeled an Amish dairy farmer this past weekend and the result: homemade butter. I even grew my beard out for this one…what can I say I really get into character, I’m like the DiCaprio of food blogging.

So yes, I made butter, in all its creamy, salty, melty, spreadable, glory.  For $4 and change for 1Qt of heavy cream to make homemade butter, you can’t go wrong, literally…you can’t even mess this up it’s foolproof. It’s so simple that I’ve been kicking myself for not finding out about this sooner. Sorry Hotel, but you have nothing on the homemade stuff…well maybe convenience…but aren’t we all tired of sacrificing quality for convenience?! [Rally cry].

This first time around was more experimental. I wanted to see if I could even make it happen so I just picked up 1QT of whatever brand heavy cream. Needless to say, it worked. Now, I’m really psyched to get my hands on some real high quality fresh heavy cream.

1QT or 4C of heavy cream yielded ~12oz (3 sticks butter). Just shy of a pound.

Get yourself:

1QT good quality heavy cream

Kosher salt

Food processor fitted with steel blade (muy importante)

Wax paper

Here’s a quick rundown: pour heavy cream in food processor and turn on. When butter breaks pour off the liquid. Form butter into ball and knead the trapped buttermilk out of it while in a bowl of cold water. Do this several times until water is clear. Add salt (or herbs) and mix with spatula. Taste. Form butter (into 4oz blocks) and store in fridge and/or freezer. Spread on warm toast.

Let’s do this…

Pour it all in…get every last drip!

Flip the switch and get it churnin’

After about 5 mins…

…magic happens

All of a sudden, the cream will break and you will have liquid buttermilk and butter solids

Hi, I’m butter nice to meet you

Now let’s prep

Bring butter solids together into a ball

Add to a bowl and pour ice-cold water on top

The water will be clouded from the buttermilk runoff

Dump the water off

Wash several more times in ice-cold water while kneading the trapped buttermilk out

Once virtually all the buttermilk is forced out form into a ball

Leaving traces of buttermilk will hasten the butter’s spoilage

Add ball to bowl

Work your salt into the butter using a rubber spatula

Measure out the butter on wax paper

Standard butter is portioned into 4oz sticks (1/2C)

Now jog your memory to recall a time you watched a sushi chef form rolls

Using that same method you will be able to form it into a stickPinch the edges closed

Or, if stick making isn’t your forte, just dump it into an airtight container

Store some of the butter in the fridge and pop the rest in the freezer

Reach behind your shoulder and pat – you just made butter

Now grab some bread that you’ve made (from my previous posts) and let butter do what it does best

Variations:

At the point where you add the salt you can instead make herb butter by adding fresh basil, parsley, sage, etc

You can add a few cloves of roasted garlic mash

You can add the butter ball to a mixer and beat for a minute to make whipped butter

Perfect Roasted Garlic

Check out a simple DIY pictorial for roasted gah-lic here: http://wp.me/PLOJW-2R

Money in the bank!