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2013

The math says 43%. That was Michigan’s chance, down one, of converting a two-point conversion to beat Ohio Sate who spent this season and last being undefeated by some combination of clubbing baby seal universities, being ineligible for post-season play because Tressel is a mentor and a saint but rules are hard and the truth is slippery, and raw talent. Kicking the field goal sends the game to overtime which in theory should give you a 50% chance of winning. The numbers lacked context though. Anyone watching knew the way the game was trending. Carlos Hyde couldn’t be stopped. Not by the girl he assaulted in the off-season, not by the Columbus Police Department, and certainly not by Michigan’s defense. Numbers are slippery too, and when you put them in context the result was the entire state of Michigan screaming at their TVs to roll the dice.

Honestly at this point, most Michigan fans were salivating at the thought of a 43% chance of being happy. Ever since the start of the second half of the NCAA championship basketball game, Michigan fandom consisted of new and more creative gut punches with increasing intensity. Lots of teams have down years, but Michigan managed it in a way that coupled disappointment with small indicators that things would get better. Hope. The hope is the worst part.

They gambled and they lost, and I was grumpy and everything was meaningless. Sports are dumb, except for when they are awesome, and your quality of life is certainly better if you don’t care about them at all, unless you do care about them while they are in the state of being awesome. My sister and brother-in-law came over for dinner after the game, but I was still a bit checked out. The told us that they were adopting from Ethiopia, and potentially domestically too. They are open to sibling groups, up to four years old. Perspective is useful.

Lots of things happened in 2013 and you can read on if you’d like, but here is the summary: I started more things than I finished. I learned things, but not to my satisfaction. There were plenty of disappointments and things that I wish were different or that I were better at. Those things don’t matter so much though. The biggest changes that occurred in 2013 have stacked the odds in my favor. The kid(s) that my sister and brother-in-law will adopt will bring far more than a 43% shot of happiness. I became married, which is also far in excess of 43%. My family is growing. I’m liking my odds for 2014.

In the grand tradition of being a month behind, it is time to review my life in 2013.

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Duck Prosciutto

This post is part of my ongoing charcuterie project. See my original writeup for further background.

Working with duck is another first for me. This shouldn’t surprise you if you’ve been following along so far. Calling this prosciutto confused me though since I always thought that meant pork. The etymology however says that this means “before” (pro) + “remove the moisture” (exsuctus). This definition is more general, so I suppose I will accept that duck can be prosciutto too.

If you’ve been following along, I’m also sure you won’t have any trouble guessing the ingredients involved in making duck prosciutto: duck breast, and salt. This recipe actually gets a bit fancy and garnishes with a bit of freshly ground white pepper. Charcuterie is not complicated, except for when this is a lie and it gets really complicated later in this project. (more…)

Fennel-Cured Salmon

This post is part of my ongoing charcuterie project. See my original writeup for further background.

It feels a bit wrong to me to cure salmon without smoking it, because I just enjoy smoked salmon that much. This recipe for fennel-cured salmon attempts to showcase the texture and richness of this fatty fish, while enhancing it by adding some additional seasonings of the anise variety.

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Salt Pork

This post is part of my ongoing charcuterie project. See my original writeup for further background.

Salt pork is easily the simplest item I’ve made so far for this project. The ingredient list is wonderfully simple: a basic dry cure (sugar, salt, nitrite), and chunked pork trimmings. As I understand it, salt pork is typically used differently today than it has been historically. Its role now is mostly seasoning, as an enhancer cooked into sauces and soups and stews. When cured and stored correctly, however, the book indicates that salt pork can keep for 2 years or more at room temperature. This was pretty significant if you were an enterprising young cook before refrigeration was a real thing.

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Guanciale

This post is part of my ongoing charcuterie project. See my original writeup for further background.

Before I made it, I couldn’t tell you what part of the pig the jowl was. I’ve never heard of nor eaten guanciale, nor did I know how to pronounce it. I made it anyway, mostly.

There seems to be a good amount of confusion about what exactly jowl is. Most online references use jowl and cheek interchangeably, but as I understand it this isn’t technically accurate. Cheek and jowl are in roughly the same area and both contain significant amounts of fat and collagen. The jowl, however, is the muscle that begins at the shoulder and extends to the lower jaw. The cheek is, well, the cheek. This confusion seems to be compounded by the fact that when ordering hog jowl, cheek is typically included in the cut. Your best bet is to specify to your butcher exactly what you want.

The best part of buying jowl is that it is obscenely cheap. My butcher is comparatively pricey since their meat comes from a farm, not a factory, but I still was able to buy two pounds for 7 bucks. Unfortunately when I placed my order I didn’t specify that I wanted a single two-pound piece, and I instead got two separate pieces totaling two pounds. I wasn’t sure if having two pieces instead of one would change my curing time, so I reached out to one of the authors of the book on twitter:

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All

2013

The math says 43%. That was Michigan’s chance, down one, of converting a two-point conversion …

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blog

2013

The math says 43%. That was Michigan’s chance, down one, of converting a two-point conversion …

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Charcuterie

duck prosciutto
Duck Prosciutto

This post is part of my ongoing charcuterie project. See my original writeup for further backgroun…

More in Charcuterie