Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cheese Butter. I Love Sodium Citrate.


So I was futzing around on the website of the Herkimer Cheese Co. (they who make my beloved holiday port wine cheese balls/logs) when I came across their trademarked product called "Chutter." Let that roll off your tongue. Chutter. What a lovely portmanteau....  Chutter's tagline is "cheddar that spreads like butter."

Now commercial cheese spreads are not a new thing at all. There are various pub cheeses, crock cheeses, and what all else out there. They are often highly processed, awful tasting, and I generally avoid them (except for Herkimer port wine cheese balls, of course). But the idea of Chutter stuck in my craw. What if I could somehow marry the flavor of good ol' Upstate New York cheddar cheese with butter?

I immediately thought that sodium citrate would be useful in this endeavor. Remember when I made those "Amercian" cheese burger slices with Nine Pin Cider and cheddar?


Sodium citrate utilizes some sort of scienc-y warlock magic to turn cheese into a smooth melty substance that sort of reminds one of Velveeta. Wonderful in burger application where that smooth melty quality is just the thing you are after. In my pursuit for spreadable "cheese butter" I thought that rendering hard aged cheddar a bit softer and smoother would be a good step.

I used 200 grams of cheese, 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of water, and 7 grams of sodium citrate and followed the same method as in the Saveur recipe for burger slices.


I let the cheese goo cool at the same time as I let a single stick of butter come up to room temperature. Then I combined and let it all go in the food processor until whipped and creamy.


And there you have it. 4 Ingredients - cheddar, sodium citrate, water, and butter. What you are left with is a substance with the spreadable qualities (at room temperature of course) of butter and the delicious sharp flavor of a good New York cheddar. Perfect for any application where you might need a flavorful spread. On crackers for instance...


This method would work equally well for any hard cheese but I think the sharp character of the cheddar cuts the fat of the butter quite well. I am currently on one of my low carb kicks or else I would be slathering this on crusty bread with abandon. You could also fold any number of flavorful ingredients into the cheese butter to make Liptauer sorts of things.

In any event. If the great future state of New Amsterdam ever officially adopts an official spreadable food, then I believe it should be this cheddar butter.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Piss Beers of Upstate New York, Gone Wild Edition: Part 1. Stewart's Mountain Brew Ice Cream Float



(For reference in the title see my ongoing "The Piss Beers of Upstate New York" series)

So what do you do when you have a frost-bitten bottom of a pint of Philly Vanilla, a single Stewart's Mountain Brew Ice rattling around your beer drawer, as well as a love for the "Before and After" category from Wheel of Fortune? Well, you make a Mountain Brew Ice Cream Float. That's what.


I have a sort of habit of turning Stewart's Shops products into weird works of food performance art. You can look at my "Capital Region in Aspic" post for more of this sort of thing (involves hot dogs in Mountain Brew aspic...). I am going to chalk this up to more of that nonsense.


Look at that beauty. Bask in it's fizzy glory.

"So Mr. Dave. How did it taste?" I think you can guess how this tasted. Not even ol' Philly Vanilly, the "#1 Best in the World,"vanilla ice cream could elevate the Mountain Brew ice cream float into the realm of palatability. As I have stated before, Mountain Brew can be wonderful served ice cold out of the can on a summer's day. But in this application it is, as expected, weird and funky.

There you have it. I've thoroughly amused myself with this endeavor and am sitting here chortling at my own perceived wit.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

O Tidings of Comfort and Port Wine Cheese


Port Wine cheese balls, egg nog, Advent calendars, Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas... Ah, the traditions of a Mr. Dave family Christmas. This year I was a bit perturbed by the fact that I could locate neither a Herkimer port wine cheese ball, nor even a log. I had to purchase a port wine cheese slice... No matter. It is still good in its garishly colored way.

Don't have much time for a Christmas post this year. So maybe read about my Albany Christmas Miracle or Ghosts of My Albany Christmas' Past. I just wanted to check in and wish everyone a very merry Christmas with one of my traditional exhortations.

May ye eggnog be ever sweet inside your ample belly. May your turkey breasts be moist and your roast beefs triumphantly rare. May children's cheeks be ever rosy. May your wife be friendly and never yell no matter what volume of nog you quaff. May your mashed potatoes be lump free and full of butter. Merry Christmas I say! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

There Is Magic in this World. Advent Calendar Chocolate Is the Proof. Of this I Am Sure.


So it is the time of year when I wax philosophical about Christmas here on my hack food weblog. In the past I have rambled on about what I call the "Mr. Dave Family Cabbage Patch Albany Miracle" and I have gone on about some of the ghosts of my Albany Christmases past. This year I'm on about Advent calendars.

It is an undisputed fact of life that eating an Advent calendar chocolate when one is aged 5 or 6 is one of the ultimate taste experiences available to mankind. Those dinky little morsels of cheap chocolate from that flimsy ninety-nine cent calendar hidden behind their little cardboard doors just taste so goddamn good. Day after day through December those little candies gain in their delicious power and mystery.

You can try and tell me that is was my child's anticipation of Christmas that makes me remember those chocolates tasting so good. You are wrong. An Advent calendar is an object possessed of some strange, unexplainable, and fleeting magic.

Go ahead. Wait until the middle of the month, or worse, until after Christmas. Go down to your Dollar General or CVS. Buy yourself a couple twenty-five cent clearance Advents. Rip one open and gobble them up. You will taste only shame and sadness. An Advent calendar not started on the first of December has been stripped of its power.

I don't know a heck of a lot about this life. I am not particularly religious or superstitious. I don't believe in goblins, grumpkins, or other things that go bump in the night (I do admit a certain conviction that house Brownies might be a reality). But of one thing I am convinced. That some spirit of Christmas yearly breathes magic and good into every anemic Advent calendar located in every cut-rate 5 and dime in the land. That I take as fact. This is a good and simple truth that makes me smile whenever I think on it.

It is one of the purest joys of my life to watch my 5 year old daughter's (my son isn't quite old enough for the full experience) face light up every morning at the though of her impending Advent chocolate. It is a joy that every parent should experience. So in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season don't forget to grab a couple calendars for the wee 'uns. There is so little good magic left in the world. You really have to seize every opportunity to witness small miracles.

So yes. Advent calendars are the rub. Trust ol' Mr. Dave. He spends a lot of time pondering about this sort of thing.

Merry Christmas all. May ye bellies be ever full of nog and your cheeks warmed all pink and rosy by the spice therein.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Emergency Stewart's Advertising Alert: Talking Carton of Kaydeross Kreme. For the First Time I Can't Even.




Watch this. Watch this now. I feel as if all my work documenting Stewart's strange and wonderful advertising should be at an end. It simply cannot get any better than the above video. I love it. If there is anything more Upstate American than a talking anthropomorphic carton of Kaydeross Kreme than I don't know of it.

Thank you Stewart's for bringing this joy into my life.

Also, I remembered that I posted about all of the Stewart's ice creams with regional references in their names. We need more of these Stewart's. And more talking cartons. I need to know what Adirondack Bear Paw has to say.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

5 Gallons of Apple Cider Vinegar. Suggestions Welcome.



So what do you do with a 5 gallon batch of hard cider (made from Indian Ladder Farms apples) when you notice that it has a bit of a vinegar-y scent in the fermenter? Shift course, add some vinegar mother, wait a few months, and end up with 5 gallons of apple cider vinegar, that's what!

So yes. I have in my possession of 5 gallons of nice tasting, unfiltered, local, apple cider vinegar. I need some ideas on how to use it up. I've been nipping a bit daily. Switchel is on the schedule. I've got some mustard going. But what else?

Thanks in advance.

The Math of Small Hot Dogs. (1/19/2014)


I am pretty schizophrenic with my blogging habits. I think I have had 3 or 4 over the past few years. I have decided to consolidate some posts from the other rando blogs I've penned lately for my own easy reference. Hope you don't mind. This one is from 1/19/2014 on my short-lived "MrDave" vanity blog...
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So this morning I took my munchkins to see Frozen (3rd time for them, 1st for me) at Regal Cinemas in Colonie Center. As you may or may not know, I am something of an avid hot dog-ologist with a specialization in the Capital Region style mini-hot dog. During the inevitable trip to the theater concession stand I spied something that would pique the interest of any hot dog connoisseur.


Available for purchase was a Nathan's "hot dog slider" combo. Eating hot dogs during a morning matinee is not a usual practice of mine but I decided to give the things a whirl out of sheer curiosity. 


Pictured above is what you get. I can't really pick nits by holding these "hot dog sliders" up against our indigenous small hot dogs as the Regal product is nationally marketed and not a real analogue. But I will say that the hot dogs are too fat, the buns are weird, and a "slider" is a burger. I don't usually care about these sorts of semantics but the White Castle slider is such a divine form that the term "slider" should not be used so lightly.


Now on to the biggest problem I have with this particular order of dinky dogs... There are 4 of them. Everybody knows that small hot dogs should be ordered in multiples of 3 (6 is probably optimal, but I have done 9. Don't judge me)! This is an item of food numerology that should not be meddled with lest the tides stop or brimstone eruptions begin. Ordering 4 small hot dogs is like ordering 1 and a half sandwiches or 2/3 of a pizza. It is just not done. I believe it is something to do with the fact that 3 of our local dinky dogs has something of the same impact on your gullet as one full-size hot dog.Anyhow, that is my bit of OCD/slightly disturbed rambling for the day.


Has anyone else seen Frozen? I thought it was great but I propose that Olaf was to Frozen as Jar Jar Binks was to The Phantom Menace. That is to say -- an unnecessary bit of hokey comic relief. Disney should have stuck with Sven the reindeer for the laughs I thinks.  Other than that it was the best Disney production in my living memory.

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Gallery Of Stewart's Signage: Part 5

Is the flavor in the cup or in the mustache?
Continuing my never ending mission to document the weird and wonderful advertising/signage of Stewart's Shops here is gallery #5. I have posted some of these on the twitter machine so I apologize for any repeats. See below for links to past collections.

Gallery 1
Gallery 2
Gallery 3
Gallery 4

So that is what you call those little containers you put the chili in...
All of them.
Tuna/egg/chicken not lettuce.
I wonder if they use fresh sliced Anywhole...
Eggwich porn.
Stewart's has cornered the local "spring gloves" market.
I like to call this the "Upstate New York Briefcase"
All hail the coming of the Nog!
Here is something I noticed last winter. I call it the "Beefwich Phenomena." I saw lots of Beefwich advertising but I have still yet to see an actual Beefwich anywhere. I think they only have them at that mega-Stewart's on Wade Road in Latham...

I did not know. Thanks.

Where's the Beefwich?

I want beef.
And here is a bonus. A rare not-in-New York Stewarts (Vermont).


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