Thursday, July 30, 2009

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

There are very few things on the planet that compare to a meal consisting of fried chicken, biscuits and gravy.

This is one item that most of us wish could be on the menu at LEAST once a week. This meal has, due to health concerns, been limited to once or twice a month for most of us. But when I want to celebrate, THIS is one of my favorite combinations. I believe that life is too short to restrict myself from an occasional piece of chicken, a biscuit, and to top it all off, some gravy for the biscuit.

We must love fried chicken. The history of this dish goes back to medieval times. Furthermore, a Google search will net some 13,300,000 pages on this item. It is so popular that there is even a vegan version of this dish. That shows a lot of support for an item categorized under the topic of "Bad Fats" on the American Heart Association's website. Ok, so it is not health food, but it sure is very popular for an unhealthy food.

Biscuits and Gravy have been around a long time. The history of this wonderful combination seems to center around necessity.

There are also a three other things to consider:
1) The drippings from bacon, sausage and fried chicken are VERY tasty.
2) Earlier in our history there was an attitude about wasting anything.
3) You need to stretch your money as far as it will go - biscuits and gravy are inexpensive to make

To make the chicken, we need to look at what type of fried chicken you want. You can fry it with just the skin on it, low and slow. You can dredge it in eggs and flour and fry it. You can take chicken that has soaked in buttermilk, dredge it in flour and spices and fry it up. Today we will work on item number three - Buttermilk Fried Chicken.

Prep and Cooking Time: 8+hours for soak (the longer the better), 30 minutes to 1 hour to fry

Utensils: 1 wide, deep pan for frying (with lid, if possible), 1 metal or plastic container for soaking the chicken in buttermilk, quart or gallon plastic bag for dredging chicken, fork for placing chicken into bag for dredging, tongs for removal of chicken

Ingredients: 1 to 2 cups of buttermilk, chicken for frying, 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups AP flour, 1 tsp Tarragon, 1 tsp pepper, 1 and 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground oriental chili, or paprika, or cayenne (your choice), 1-2 quarts Vegetable oil for frying - I suggest peanut or canola due to better heat resistance

Trim up chicken and cut into pieces. Wash off pieces with COLD water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place chicken into a large metal or plastic container. It is better to have a large, flat surface here to conserve on the buttermilk. Pour buttermilk over the chicken. Lift each piece and roll around in the buttermilk to ensure even coverage. Place plastic wrap (not aluminum - this could corrode due to the acid in the buttermilk) over the container. Place in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.
Once soak time is over, remove chicken from the bath and follow the dredging and cooking steps.

Prepare dredge bag by placing the flour, salt, pepper and spice into the plastic bag. I usually use a zipper bag since they are very sturdy. Place the fork into a piece of chicken and place it into the bag, remove the fork, fold over the top a couple of times and shake to cover with the mixture. Open the bag, remove from dredge using the fork and place in a single layer on a large clean plate or cookie sheet. Repeat for all remaining pieces of chicken. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before frying.

Place pan on stove. Pour in enough cooking oil to give you a depth of 2 inches. You CAN use less oil or a shallow pan, but you will HAVE to monitor the chicken more closely and turn it more often to give even cooking - deeper IS better! Turn the burner on to medium-high heat and bring the oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. I have cooked without a frying thermometer and reducing to a medium setting after the oil gets hot seems to work out well for me.

Once the oil gets hot enough, using the tongs, gently place 3 to 5 pieces of the chicken into the oil. DO NOT overcrowd the chicken, it will not cook evenly, among other things. You also want to watch the temperature on the oil - going above 375 will cook the chicken too quickly and may cause the oil to degrade faster. One item causes raw chicken, the other makes the chicken taste bad or requires replenishing the oil more often. Once you place the chicken in the oil, the oil temperature will drop, then it SHOULD slowly rise back to proper temperature. You want to avoid letting the oil temperature stay too low for very long - this results in greasy, not fried, chicken. Turn the chicken every few minutes to insure even cooking.

Once the chicken is golden brown (see photo), it is ready to pull. If you have a probe-type cooking thermometer, you are trying to reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (be careful not to place the thermometer against a bone as this will give you a false reading). Use the tongs to pull the chicken and place it on a plate lined with paper towels. Let cool for a couple of minutes and serve.

Tomorrow I will cover how to make buttermilk drop biscuits. Until then, have fun, enjoy the recipe, and God Bless.

P.S. Check out my website at Crabby's Place

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Why Should a Person Get on Facebook or Any Other Social Networking Site?

I am still fairly new at the social networking sites. I do have an account on facebook, and on twitter, and to be honest, I am really sorry that I didn't get into this sooner.

Email is a great thing. It keeps us in touch with our friends and family. It is really super IF you know the person't email address. If you don't, then you are sunk.

I started using facebook and twitter mainly because I heard how great they really are, and that they are a great way to find folks, develop friendships, and to communicate with others. Because of these tools, I have found a large group of people that have interests similar to mine, and more importantly, I have been touching base with some awesome old friends of mine.

If you aren't on these services, I HIGHLY recommend them. it is so neat to find others out there that look at life similar to the way you do. It is a great way to find out more about your friends or those you want to learn from, and the biggest reason - it is a lot of fun!!

Now that I have given you some food for thought - go out and do some social networking...

Have a super day and God Bless!

twitter: CrabbB

facebook: Brady Crabb in Colorado Springs

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Murphy's Law and Life

Murphy's Law states, "If anything can go wrong, it will." This is also the first rule of two of my favorite things in life - computers and cooking.

I have worked with computers for over half my life. In that time, I have determined that Murphy MUST have been thinking forward, into the future, when he wrote his saying. Anyone who has worked with a computer very much is aware how stubborn the computer can be when you NEED it to work. This evening I was working on a PC at my church. This computer is in bad need of a complete clean up, but unfortunately nobody knows where the cd key or original windows disc is, so reinstallation is out of the picture - unless NEW copies of the software are bought. Add to this the fact that the media software we are using is very resource intensive, and you have a mix for problems.

I kept having program crashes until I finally determined that the problem was a corrupt video file that I kept trying to load. I was saving every so often, but the darned thing kept crashing. After I figured out what the problem was, I found out they aren't going to be using the video clip tomorrow after all. This is definitely Murphy in action.

In the cooking arena - I am sure someone can relate to this - I have had more than once that I started to make a dish that had very specific ingredients that could not be replaced or substituted, and the item either got used by someone else in the house, or it spoiled, and is unusable. It is times like this I feel like Charlie Brown - AAARGH!!

My wife was making a cake for her co-workers and she had a problem with the cake not coming out of the pan. When it FINALLY did, it came out in pieces. She had bought a very large can of frosting, which she assumed would cover the entire cake with some left over. With the cake being busted up, the icing was consumed rapidly, and she still had half the cake to go. Oh well, no problem, let's just make some chocolate frosting to cover the rest of the cake. This is fine, if you have cocoa powder or some blocks of bittersweet chocolate - which we did not have. She thought she could use some of the Almond Bark in the cabinet. For those who don't know, Almond Bark and other candies like it, are used to coat pretzels, nuts, and just about everything during the holiday season. It cannot bu used as an icing and it cannot be thinned with water or milk, only with solid vegetable shortening - Yuck! Needless to say, our FAMILY ended up eating this particular cake.

I don't know about you, but Murphy sure does hang around a LOT at our house.

While on the topic of Almond Bark here is a simple recipe to make the bad things disappear - for now, at least.


2 Squares of vanilla or chocolate almond bark candy (or equivalent)
1 Cup of dry roasted almonds (salted or unsalted)

  1. Place candy in microwave safe cup.
  2. Measure out one cup of Almonds in another heat-resistant cup.
  3. Heat candy in microwave for approximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds, stopping at 1 minute and at 2 minutes. (You don't want the candy to get too hot, it will burn.)
  4. Remove from microwave and stir to liquify
  5. Pour over the almonds, stirring quickly to mix the two items together well
  6. Place some wax paper on a cookie sheet or other flat surface, such as a cutting board.
  7. Pour the mixture on the wax paper to cool.
  8. After cooling, break into small pieces
  9. Enjoy!
Here is a slideshow of the recipe - note the high tech, high dollar equipment being used. Only the best at Crabby's Kitchens!!

I hope you enjoy the recipe and have a Super Day, and God Bless!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hard Drives Last Forever, Right?

I used to sell hard drives on eBay. I sold so many that I made PowerSeller status. The only thing is that I sometimes got surprised by the things people expected of me. Case in point: I had a couple of customers that couldn't understand WHY I didn't use their favorite disk testing program to verify my drives. After all, I said that the used drives I sold were tested, and that they passed, so I MUST be using DiskCheckDeluxe (fictitious name) - otherwise, the drives had not been tested - at least to their minds. The thing is that if I had a customer that PREFERRED a particular program or test, I would run it - all they needed to do was ask. If I had the program, I WOULD run it to verify that the drive matched their specs. I have always taken care of my customers, and doing a return or two is a very normal part of the hard drive business.

This leads to the point of this entry. ALL HARD DRIVES WILL EVENTUALLY FAIL, PERIOD. This is a statement of fact. These are made by human beings and the motors will die, or the read/write heads will crash, or the metal on the platter will start to degrade or worse yet, flake off.

That being said, I will let you know what you should be doing with your hard drive:
  1. Do not trust it totally - back up your data regularly.
  2. If you don't like step 1, and lose data that is not backed up, go in the bathroom and chew out the person you see in the mirror.
  3. Do regular maintenance on the drive. A regular repair to the directory structure and a defragmentation AFTER the directory is clean is always in order.
  4. Know where your data is coming from. Make sure you have used "safe hex" and do regular virus scans and spyware scans - the data you may save could be your own.
  5. As a follow-up on item four - make sure you scan all incoming data, be it from the Internet or a floppy (yes, some of us still use these), a CD, or flash drive. Most virus scanners can be set to do this for removable media.
  6. Do not drop your computer, or allow it to be hit by something (or somebody) while the power is on and the hard drive is spinning. This is a great way to cause a head crash. With a head crash you can lose a little, or in the case of a really good scrape, make most of your data unretrievable, even with forensics.
  7. Make sure that the cooling fans in your computer are running well, the blades on the fans are clean, and ventilation is NOT blocked. Fans don't perform well if they can't move the air in, out, and around in the case.
  8. If you do start hearing strange noises from the hard disk, do a quick back-up of your documents and data - I have personally done this - the drive died the very next day.
  9. Consider replacing the hard drive after 3 to 5 years of use. This is especially true if you run your computer constantly, or it is exposed to temperature extremes a lot.
  10. Get an external USB, Firewire, or eSATA drive to backup your data on. These are a very cheap piece of insurance. If not that, backup to CDs or DVDs (seems like I said this before...)
  11. Keep the room that the computer is in as close to 70 degrees as possible. Sixty-eight to Seventy-five degrees is considered excellent.
  12. Don't mess around with the data or power cables on your hard drive unless you KNOW what you are doing. Static discharge or an improperly connected cable can make the hard disk unusable. If you do open the case, discharge the static off your body by touching the metal case BEFORE touching anything inside the case.
  13. Be nice to your computer. It is a device that holds, in many cases, all your important data. It can do this best if you try to follow all of these steps.
Ok, so much for the sermon. I apologize for any offense, but if I did, you weren't doing the right thing for your PC, Mac, Linux box or whatever it is you prefer.

Until my next entry, have a Super Day, and God Bless!