Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How to Make Tom Kha Soup When your Mother has Inoperable Stage IV Cancer


This is a recap of an earlier soup recipe for Tom Kha Ghai. But honestly, each time a recipe is created it has a unique situation which calls for individual tweeks. I thought that it might be both educational and useful to document one of these particular situations. 

In this case, I will be making this particular soup while changing the prep and the ingredients to align with a diet recommended by certain holistic practitioners for those battling cancer. That is, I will be creating the recipe without adding any alcohol, sugar,  meat, salt, or chilies. 

Hopefully it does not completely suck. 

This recipe is particularly good when you’ve just prevented your mother from possibly going ballistic on helpful nutrition shop owners who are trying to sell her other options not on her list while she was already sliding past her level of comfortable overwhelm and you are trying to calm yourself down from a future ensuing anxiety attack. 

This recipe will call for drinking more wine, overall, than one would normally. If it isn’t going in the soup, that doesn’t mean it‘s not going to be used. Basically you’re drinking a recipe’s worth. If you don’t drink, be prepared to pour out at least one full bottle of wine onto the ground. Tell yourself that it's for the homies. And by homies I mean that it's to honor people in various homes who also have cancer and can't drink this wine.

This time it's okay for you throw the remaining wine bottle against something hard in order to hear the crash. 

Everything has to be organic and there will be no oil to sauté anything. Also, there will be no chicken. This might be closer to the Martha Stewart recipe I ripped into a few posts back when I initially wrote a blog about this particular soup and highlighted how boring and super New-England-white-person her specific recipe was. But maybe she was writing for her family member who not only had cancer, but also an unusually high ability to process sodium while having said cancer. If so, my apologies Martha. I honestly did not know your sodium deficient mom had cancer when you put that one up. 

Chop the fresh turmeric, onions, ginger, celery, lemon grass, and broccoli into smaller pieces than normal.  I mean seriously small bits. Try to breathe a little more consciously as you do this. Normally I’m all about "health at any size", which includes raggedly mean chunky bits along with some scattered smaller bits and then the occasional small slivers that just happen when I chop. But, since there is no soup base, I’m chopping everything teensy in the hopes that my hand will stop shaking and that it might add more flavor. 

I’m adding one metric fuckton of ginger to see if this will fix the lack of soup base and salt.  Also, because Whole Foods in LA apparently has received a written cease and desist letter from Martha around carrying galangal. It seems that her vicious galangal interaction has caused her to banish all galangal from the area. The woman does need therapy. It's not the galangal's fault. It's the behaviors and habits of those who raise and use galangal who end up causing it to go bad.

After chopping the items, take a slice of frozen pizza recently heated and eat it slowly over a period of 20 minutes while staring out the kitchen window into the yard of your mom’s small condo all while thinking about your sister’s earlier conversation with you where in she tried to talk to you about dividing up your  mom’s stuff and then you hung up on her.

 Continue to chew slowly until you feel sad and vacant


Chop up a larger than normal amount of parsley. It's parsley because partially you're not sure cilantro is on the cancer list of okay to eat items and partially because some people think cilantro tastes like soap. Contemplate if they are just faking this to be assholes and wonder why they have been eating so much soap. Fail to chop it too finely, but throw it in the large bowl of chopped things anyway and then proceed to sit with your head resting in your hands while your elbows rest on the cutting board. Hold this position until you can breathe again or until a relative walks in the room and you have to fake it.

Realize that writing this blog while you are cooking is amplifying your feelings. Try not to cry while chopping the fresh basil. If you fail to prevent this, cry over the sink away from any crucial ingredients. Remember, any added salt is not allowed in this specific diet.

Unlike other times when you put together a recipe for the family and everyone tried to crowd in to either insult you while standing around or pretend to help while not actually helping, no one will actually be in the kitchen. Everyone will just be too overwhelmed with their own shit and will have retreated.

Chop the bok choy and the majority of one of those large containers of basil. 

Nothing can be sautéed because you can't use oil, so nothing needs to be cooked separately. Everything gets thrown into the large bowl once chopped. 

Pour one can of coconut milk and an extra tiny can of coconut cream into a large pot, because you aren't sure how to compensate for the lack of oil and because... Fuck it.

Add more than a reasonably normal amount of garlic cloves which have been finely chopped to the mix. 

 Add the juice of two lemons partially squeezed. Some seeds may have fallen in. Don't worry. When these cook for an hour everyone will think they are some kind of unusual legume.

Heat the coconut milk and add four cups of water in a large pot. When it has reached a rolling boil, turn the heat down to simmer and throw everything you’ve chopped into the water. 

Cover it over and wait since there is really nothing else you can do.

Walk away from it and hope for the best.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Pickle Blog of Many Much Greatness.

So there I was, sitting on top of a six gallon bucket just whacking the hell out of a plastic lid with a hammer. And what goes better with hammers than a screw driver? It was merely by chance that I had been drinking them all morning. Okay, not all morning. Actually, it was noon and I had slept in.  

Recently I've been doing smaller batches of cucumber pickles with some success on a semi-regular basis since I got this "pickle-it" pickle making system. I say, some success, because I did make an error when buying organic cucumbers at the Safeway and I found out that organic does not mean unwaxed. And this was how I learned that vegetables with wax on them make mushy pickles.

I also found out that taking three weeks to make about two dozen cucumber pickles is bullshit. This is America. Sure, I may have swiped my blog title from an Italian man who was learning English at the time and now calls me up every few weeks to complain that since he has been living in Ireland now for the past 15 years he probably speaks better English than I do and couldn't I PLEASE stop embarrassing him by making him remember the times when he did not know how to conjugate correctly? And it's true. I still sound far worse stumbling through my Italian than most people do speaking any language that they were not born to. But I am an American. And in America we don't care. And in America we make fun of those people that do care. And in America we make things in large large batches because if we can't have it now, we certainly don't want to wait for it later.

So, I bought a 6 gallon beer making bucket.



You may wonder why I didn't try to make beer in that bucket. There is a very good reason for that. 

It will take too long or be too irrelevant to explain. Just accept that I will not make beer with this bucket.


In my discoveries about making cucumber pickles I have learned a great many things aside from that fact that one should not use a pre-waxed cucumber to make a pickle. One of these things is that if you buy a really expensive pickling kit from Pickle-it and you use boiling water to sterilize the glass containers before you put items into it, it may first spider crack along and through the glass  before imploding in on itself and this will cause you to cry. Because of this issue, I now use a diluted bleach solution to sterilize my items.

Also, you should wash your cucumbers. But not, like, WASH wash your cucumbers. It is of no use to you if they are so sterile that they are like the virginal kindergarten teacher who told my entire class that Santa Claus was not real so that we would not be falsely wowed by that tainted temptress wrapped in a crimson mink. You want a little disease on them so that they will be zesty like a slightly used whore. A little history gives a lot of spice.




Another thing I have learned is that it is actually important to place the pickling ingredients, in whatever container you are going to use, in layers. This is so the smaller bits do not float to the top where they could possibly mold and then spoil the entire batch.

I like to use the mixed pickling spices that you get in jars from the super market. I don't know why. They don't add all that much flavor in the end but they are kind of like those lucky socks that baseball people wear or lucky underwear wrestlers wear so they don't get a slick finger in their bum to get them off balance or so that they can get that extra slick finger in their bum to give them some balance. 

All of the spices you want to use should really go in first because they are, in fact, the most floaty. And by that, I mean that they are the most likely to float.



On top of the spices should go more spices.




If you are pickling you really need things that have a magical additive in them called "tannins" and they will make your cucumber retain that valued crunch when you are ready to pull the cucumbers out. Think of them like that sparkly marital aid to keep the juices flowing after 25 years.  It could be porno. It could be role play. It could be extra marital affairs which are hopefully consensual since  Cookings of Many Much Greatness was not a cooking blog built on a bed of marital lies. Or it could be large swaths of bay leaves mixed with oak leaves and a few grape leaves. You have to do what you have to do here  because, despite all the platitudes one might give you, if your pickle is flaccid no one is really going to want to eat it. 

Next, the herbs. Yes, I am aware that herbs are actually spices. Typically spice in a non dried format. In this case we have fresh dill and fresh thai basil and some other sexy spices which I forgot the names of but they just smelled *divine* when Sister Mary TimothySimplicity gave them to me and I am not going to be all discriminatory about which plants are worthy and which plants should be segregated out. NO! This is an all inclusive pickle. Any form of spice is welcome. Whether dried or fresh. Whether Western or Asian. Whether flowered or not. IT is a pickle of the people. IT is a pickle for everyone.  A pickle for the people is a part of all people and all people's contributions are what make the people's pickle beautiful! Except, you know, those crackly dried broken bits of herb. If your herbs are dried out and crumbly like a cracker, you best get those motherfuckers out of there. You *cannot* trust them. No matter how clean they are, no matter who they claim to have not been with, a crumbly cracker of an herb can ruin the whole batch with it's funky stank. Keep it out.  





Next goes in a fuckload of garlic. I know that many of you have been unhappy with my imprecise measuring terms. That is why, in this blog, I have made sure to capture a visual representation of what it means to add one fuckload. I hope this is helpful:




On top of that goes precisely a shit ton of onions. Again, my people's have a measuring dialect which is not easily translatable. And because of that, I have taken pictures to give you the information that you need to make an accurate measuring assessment.:




Now the cucumbers. The cucumbers must have their tips cut off to assist in the pickling process. The ends, apparently, can inhibit the pickling and so it is really best to neatly trim each end off. Actually it is only the flowering end which inhibits pickling. However I can't tell one end from another and certainly don't know which is the end of a phallic shaped melon and which tip a flower comes out of. In order to be safe,  I cut both ends. This is probably why it is a really good thing I never became an Orthodox Rabbi. That and because, since I have mouth herpes, I would probably just drink all the wine instead of putting it onto a child's penis. Just kidding, I don't have mouth herpes. I'm just an alcoholic.

After all the ends and tips are cut, you should shove them all into the container vertically. It is a good idea to shove them so tight that none of them will float up on their own. Sometimes I imagine each container like a phone booth in a 1976 gay bathhouse where they have that contest to see how many cocks can fit into a limited space. Since Gun Oil hasn't been invented yet, you only have the natural condensation to work with. Now, you don't want to cause a urethral fracture, but if you know that possibly one more can wiggle into one of those dark cracks or crevices, the smaller yet slimmer cukes are really your best bet for the win. And this is why size really *is* important.








And of course size is important. If I didn't have this large a bucket I wouldn't be able to create this effort to at least try to ferment enough pickles to last the next two months.

I know what you are thinking: Ha ha ha! She thinks these pickles might even last the next two months!

At this point you should be boiling some water. About 30 cups worth to be exact.  I know, you all are all fancy and think in quarts and gallons. But I only have a god damn cup measurer, okay? And it only goes up to four cups at a time. So fuck you with your fancy one gallon measuring devices.

As I said, you will need 30 cups and then you need this wacky thing here which will help you measure all the salt you need. http://www.pickl-it.com/blog/737/brine-calculator/

I made a 3% brine because it is saltier than a sailor's mouth. Any higher, and my delicate sensibilities may be compromised. Despite what some of you may think, *I* am a lady.


Apparently one regular sized metal camping plate is exactly the right size to hold all the cumbers under the brine. Mine is Blue with some white speckles. I don't think they really make any other kind of coated metal camping dishes. I've never actually never seen any other patterns or colors. Not even cute little bird designs or those heinous flowers that are supposed to look whimsical and friendly but really look almost exactly like a butterfly was smashed into the surface.

With your plate,  you will need a heavy thing to hold the plate down. I used a sterilized jar filled with filtered water and sealed with the same lid that came with the jar. But you might use stones or kitty litter sealed in durable ziplock baggies or even your neighbor's mini hookah, provided that it is totally clean and sterile since it is going to be touching the pickling water.




This still won't be enough to keep everything submerged. You will want to add some old pickle juice on top. Not gross/old. Just recently left behind from previously fermented and then eaten pickles. You need to get this, like a sourdough starter, from a batch of pickles you made earlier. If you do not have any, make a few more cups of the 3% brine and pour it on top.

You will need a hammer at this point. How else are you going to get the lid on? It's important you sit on top of the bucket with your entire weight while hammering the lid onto your large bucket.


 












Don't forget that damn airlock! What else are you going to stick in an unyielding rubbery hole to safely contain that growing funk? 





When you are done hammering, you will need something suitable to swaddle your beer bucket in order to protect it further from light exposure. I chose a 1960's teal house robe made of some kind of early substitute for fake fur. Fake fur was so expensive then, what with the war going on and all.




Now, since you cannot see your pickles through the opaque beer making container, you must trust in JEeZus and the smells emanating from the air lock at the top of your bucket to guide you in believing that everything is going okay in there. It's like, when you don't know the STD status of that grrl and she tells you it is okay but you just don't know but you  are still going to dive in there anyway so you split her legs and take a nice big long whiff and it smells just like fresh cut cactus and citrus peel, and that is how you decide you don't need a blood test? Well, this is how it going to be with the pickles. Except, you know, with a whole other set of fragrances.

As the days and weeks go by, you can trust that there are gasses being produced by gently pressing upon the lid of your tub and watching the little tubular  thing in the middle of your three piece air lock go up and then down. And of course there will be more smells.


Every once in a while you are going to have to pull the lid off. If you are feeling really lazy, you can take out the three piece airlock and do your best to try to look through that hole in the top of the lid which is about a centimeter in diameter. It will help if you are assisted with a really high powered flash light. This will kind of tell you that everything is still submerged and that it generally looks all right. However, everyonce in a while, this won't suffice. You are going to really need to get that goddamn lid off and take a good farty smelling look at your pickles. I say farty, because your entire house is going to smell like a pickle the size of a great dane farted all throughout your house. And this is why you should have kept the damn thing in a basement and now you feel cursed because it is too late and you just have to let it live its farty existence outside your bedroom door, even though you really could take it down at any time but you keep telling yourself that it's too late so you won't have to admit to yourself that you are actually just lazy.  


But anyways, back to the looking. It is really really hard to take that damn lid off. The parts you pop off will pop back down as soon as you can pull an adjacent corner up. You might lose fingernails and teeth which may or may not fall into the pickle vat and you shouldn't really tell your friends about that. Still, you must persist. 

There might be things like mold and actual bad smells which are much worse than pickle farts. Some people say to remove the mold and go on as usual. Others say that if you remove the mold and then pretend the mold never happened the mold will lay secret mold spores in the body of the pickles which will infect you when you eat them, eventually turning you into a hollow pickle making automaton shell of a person you used to be who can only live to continually make more and more pickles contaminated with mind control mold spore infections which you then disseminate to all of your friends who then become infected themselves and carry on a new life of simply making pickles. Forever.  

However, with my handy dandy new mold guide, you can now identify those who are infected from regular enthusiastic pickle making enthusiasts. One tail tell sign is that the zombie pickle men don't cut the mold off the cheese when it sprouts. They just eat it with a blank and tired look in their eyes. 

Occasionally the tired blank looks of mold infectees and non discriminating eating habits get confused with your average garden variety exhausted parent of a toddler child. So, whatever you do, hold off from stabbing them in the chest until you are really sure!


Once you have the lid off, you are supposed to taste the brine with a clean spoon to make sure it is going well and also that you won't poison your friends. The brine will be cloudy and possibly beige in color. This is normal. The beige color tells you that the pickling is working and that the water is developing all of the special pickle nutrients and magical enzyme type things and possibly the health components that we have all heard about so much recently from various health magazines. 

 Once the brine flavor is where you want it, or you are just so creeped out you cannot fucking stand it anymore (normally around two weeks, though some wait as long as a month)  you can release the pickles. Make sure you wash your hands really well. You should try to ascertain whether the pickles are slimy or if they make any sort of dull snap sound when broken. If they don't snap, they feel squishy, or they smell at all like Lake Merritt in Oakland, you should probably throw them away. If some are hollow inside, that's okay. Sometimes they do that if your market let them sit too long before you bought them, or if you let them sit too long because you had a feeling you shouldn't be doing this in the first place but then told yourself that you spent 30 bucks on cucumbers so you might as well go through with it.

 You will most certainly need to have a fuck-ton of clean quart jars at your disposal. This is where you finally realize that this was not a fun hobby at all and you have gone absolutely too fucking far and just what in fucking hell are you doing with your life anyway? This is the time that if parents of toddlers were around they would stand and point and laugh at you for your poor life choices, no matter how tired they might be.  You will be up to your elbow in pickle brine. If you wore gloves to protect your hands from the stink that takes days to go away, the gloves will act as a holding container to keep the brine right on the flesh of your fingers as the salty water seeps over the top lip of your latex encased wrists. No matter what you may try to  tell yourself, you must admit that all of those gloves will never be recyclable for sex. Just forget it. No matter how careful you are,  the brine will get all over the floor.  And.... did you really have to ferment them all so close to your entire wardrobe? Your favorite pants are now ruined. At this point you have no choice but to trudge on spending several hours sterilizing and then filling the various jars that surround you on the floor which will probably never all fit in your refrigerator anyway. 

Congratulations. You are now the Howard Hughes of picklers.  
















Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tilapia with Lemon and Some Pickled Crap Thrown on Top



In order to make this promising tilapia you first have to have put in the time to pickle some crap. I’ve been into pickling lately. However, since I do most of my pickling sober I haven’t blogged about it. Pickling is a long drawn out process and my parole officer explicitly stated that I am not allowed to be drunk for the appropriate amount of time it would take to make that blog.

 I have been putting all kinds of shit in water salty enough to make even a veteran gourmand of the captain’s pudding blush. Currently I’m trying a daring process of fermenting salty plums I picked from my yard with rosemary and lemons in a brine of red wine. It might need to be thrown away in a few weeks. After all,  I'm not afraid to admit that I am scared of death which is a thing that can happen when eating the fruits of experimental pickling. 


With that said, In honor of the amazing Martha Stewart, I am going to leave any and all pickling instructions entirely out of today’s recipe. 

First, I was going to make this fish with a peach. But after some basic research I said all fucks to that.  

Instead I took the tilapia and put it on a big tin foil  sheet which my geriatric cat had already started to lick just a tiny bit because he has a plastic fetish and he felt tin foil was close enough substitute. Also, he hoped I would plop raw fish in front of him while he just happened to be practicing eating it. 

I did not change out the tinfoil because I love our Mother Earth. Also I figured that the heat will naturally bake off any cat anus germs.

 I covered those fishy bitches in salt and pepper and a healthy splash of that provincial herbs mix before slicing one lemon in a fan of thin slices over the top.  Then I realized my coconut oil was starting to get old and it heats better than olive oil and it also fights some kinds of brain diseases though when I was  younger I was told that it would just make us fat.  Ah, the miracle of transformation! Of course globs of coconut oil were strategically placed around the fish like tiny mounds of iced cream!

 I was rudely startled to discover that  I had no fresh garlic in the house. No one really has any good excuse to ever be out of garlic even if you engaged in a month long garlic festival ...  especially if you have engaged in a month long garlic festival. I don't understand those poor  bastards who try to tell me not to put garlic in my food because they claim in does something funny to them.  Be a man, poop it out. Don't you know that some people actually pay extra to have their colon washed with water nearly as fresh at your toilet bowl's before having them stuffed back inside?


Since I did have pickled garlic and pickled onions by the handful I was saved. It’s best if you have a tiny food processor in which you can throw in the garlic cloves and those thar Herbs du Provence and pickled onions in order to make a jaunty puree which you can spread across your fish before you roast it . However, if you live in a residential group home then there is a good chance  that someone threw the entire apparatus (cord and all) into the dishwasher on the second day it arrived from Costco. At this point you have only been able to use it  for a shallow yet  Dadaist invoking vase.  In this case mash the pickled garlic  and sprinkle across the body of these four brave yet bold fish that gave their lives to eventually travel though your lower intestines before going back out to sea in a slightly altered form.

 Also, don't forget to spread the finely chopped pickled onions!

I put a splash of lemon juice for good measure, because can one really trust  a lemon slice to deliver lemony goodness? No. Like a Republican senator’s wife, It’s just kinda there to look pretty while he finds the real business in a gutted bathroom stall in Downtown Detroit. Okay, maybe more gay downlows happen in D.C., but isn’t Detroit just perfectly picturesque?

By now you have everything in place. All you have to do is seal that fish into a tinfoil rosey vaginal pouch like a newly reconstructed hymen. Be sure to shush it and tell it God knows it’s still virginal and that her fish is all blessed and fresh inside.


Put on the grill for 10 to 15 minutes, or until that flakey fish just quivers and falls apart at the slightest touch from an assertive man’s hand, like God intended.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cooking for a Rock Star

It’s very important no one know I have gotten a cold, which is why I am blogging about it.  And my guts are churning because I have ten tons of Dayquil in my system in order to prop myself up.
You see, I have to cook dinner for Amanda Palmer and 50 other house guests who will all be occupying my living room in three days. There is no wussing out. There is no backing down. There is only go.


I’m trying to pre-prep and freeze most of the food ahead of time because there is no way I am going to be able to make everything that same day and live. I have, as per usual, made everything way too complicated.

Pretty much this entire recipe I am doing today is ripped from the Vegan Soul Kitchen, except that I forgot to buy thyme. But, you know, basil is green, too so it should be all good.

https://www.facebook.com/vegan.soul.kitchen

Cooking on cough medication is not unlike cooking while drinking alcohol. Though there is a more floaty feeling and everything seems to remind me of square balloons particularly when I have my eyes closed. Go ahead. Try it! And this works even better with Nyquil while you are trying to masturbate.  You end up fantasizing all your lovers are square and balloon shaped which may either be a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you are and what you are into.

I don’t even know who I am or what I am doing. Should I be cooking? Should I ever be cooking is really the question most of you are probably asking.

Today we are making a rockin’ BBQ sauce. It will be boiled and frozen to kill any viral or bacterial contents which may currently be spewing from my being while I pray to the gods of all that is sickness that I will be healthy tomorrow.

You do know that many of the people that prepare your foods in restaurants are sick, right? There is no paid sick time for line cooks. And I hate to break it to you, but most of your waiters are either drunk or on acid.

Maybe acid is passé these days. I had a friend who was a server and he told me that he always took a little bit of mushrooms before going on shift each night to make the evening “sparkle” a little.

Normally this worked well, until one time he munched on too many while harvesting them from his basement. You know, pick a few, eat one - pick a few, eat one.  After so many, he became paranoid that every car that went by his house was a cop car and he went for his gun.

Anyways, when making bbq sauce for 50 people and a Rock Star, it is important to make a lot. Like – a lot a lot. Like enough to fill up a large rice cooker. And this is really quite a lot when you see it in front of you.

And do you have any idea how slow tamari sauce is when it pours out of the bottle and you are praying that it will make up four cups to throw into the giant pot you have in front of you?


Oh fuck this. I’m going to bed.



Sunday, November 24, 2013

How to Cook Marinara Sauce Like an Asshole.

My husband had stolen the other wooden spoon, most of the pre-chopped onions, and the tomato paste for his meaty meat sauce. I was forced to deal with the dregs to help the vegetarians have a consummate meal. No pre-chopped onions and only jars of Safeway sauce. By god, it was like cooking in the paleo age.

But I did have wine. Thank goodness that I had wine. I decided to make a reduction of one cup red wine and one-cup balsamic vinegar. I wasn’t sure what this would actually do for the sauce but I had seen a fair amount of assholes brag about the quantity of wine and vinegars they had reduced. So, in order to compete, I had decided it would be best if I tried to be like one of these assholes.

I reduced the mess to a syrupy blackness that resembled Hershey’s chocolate sauce. 



I remember reading that some people had difficulty reducing balsamic and wine, which I think is confusing. I’m not a physicist, but I think if you boil pretty much any liquid long enough it will reduce, simply because at least part of it will be converted into a gas. My only guess is that, after 10 minutes, it didn’t seem that much smaller to them than when they started and then they got frustrated. In order to be a real gourmet asshole, you cannot get frustrated with your reduction. It’s the patience that gets you the asshole points.

And so that is why instead of dicing the garlic and putting in directly into the oil to sauté, this time I decided to roast the garlic first. Of yes! I was going to be that kind of asshole.

Garlic roasting, wine thingy reduced… what else can I do?

Well since I had to chop the onions myself,  I decided the best option would be to roast fennel seeds in olive oil until they popped and then add the diced onions to the oil.  You heard me right. I took the opportunity to roast those mutherfuckin’ seeds until  they were a light toasty brown and the whole kitchen smelled like Italian sausage but without the penis substitute.

I hit a snafu in my assholeishness. I was dealing with amateur kitchen ingredients. Very little Parmesan, (which was only bought to top some of the meat pasta) and no fresh  herbs.

GASP! you say?

 You heard me right. I was forced to use the goddamned dried Italian mix! And you know there ain’t no Italian alive in all of Italy who cooks with that.  It just doesn’t happen.

Shhhh!

They don’t.

Shhhhhh!

I don’t care what your mother does,.

Shh!

Dd.

Sssss!

SHHhhhhhh!

No.


So, I sent my husband out for more supplies. In specific, fresh rosemary. And yes, this is the stuff that you can pick out of your neighbor's yard most anywhere on the planet, except for the neighborhood that I live in. 

In the meantime, I had a quarter cup left of nutritional yeast flakes that were soon to go bad on me. At least I think they were. Do those damn things ever really go bad? And when they go bad, do they take a baseball bat to all that is dairy? Best not to leave it to chance. I threw that in the pasta for vegan cheesy goodness.

And since there was a little tiny plastic cup of chili flakes, which came from something, but I have no idea what, I threw that in too.

Garlic was roasted now, but too hot to peel. And I have the patience of a cooking asshole, but not  the patience of a GREAT cooking asshole. I know my limits.

 I put the roasted garlic in the freezer.

Magic! Ten minutes later I could actually squeeze the contents out and mash them up so I it would blend into the sauce for that taste of  smoky garlicky goodness.  And then  I notice the whole pot is getting a paste-like consistency, which means…..

Hurrah!

It is time for another wine bottle to be opened! And since the sauce became super thick in the short hour or so it has been bubbling, I really had to throw a third if it in the sauce along with the rest of the chili flakes and a reasonable bunch of salt. I think the reduced balsamic actually acted like sugar and sweetened the sauce a little too much.


Note to all asshole gourmands. Instead of saying you added sugar to your marinara, tell them you reduced an entire vat  of balsamic – some size that you think might  be worthy of Liberace’s kitchen. Remember, size does matter. Like most men, you don’t have to tell the truth.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Broccoli Chowder (or When You Have No Food to Cook In Your House And No Money to Buy Any Plus You Are Too Lazy To Leave The House)


This is not my proudest recipe. You may want to try it. You may not.

What to cook when you have barely any shit that constitutes food stuffs in your house and you have cancelled your debit card because you thought it was lost  while you were on a road trip but then you found it in between the seat and the hump box of your car and therefore are in a current state of having no money.

No cash, you say?  Why don't you just go inside the bank and withdraw cash like people used to in the 1970's? Why don't you use your credit card that you keep for emergencies and flight milages?  That would be really really great if I actually wanted to leave the house at all today. So, for those of you who are poor or have no money on hand, or so rarely used that aforementioned credit card that it actually was cancelled by the bank two years ago, or if you are just a reclusive weirdo (No judging, here. We folks at Cookings of Many Much Greatness are a loving and accepting community of feelz) than this is the recipe for you.

 I ended up with a spicy yet citrus-y broccoli chowder of sorts, which was actually was quite tasty. 

If there were an Olympics for making food out of a random/ nearby and nearly expired cupboard items, I might actually win something from someone.

I was going to make pasta, but there were no onions in the house, there were no kidney beans, and worst of all there was no red wine! I was going to have to attempt this culinary adventure .....

sober.

Shit.

Noodles and jar sauce is just kind of yucky. I think you understand. I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. It’s not really food unless you are doing time in the pen and you are trying to be creative about mixing your ramen noodles with a tomato like paste so that you don't have to go to the chow line and eat those mystery meat nuggets for the 40th day in a row.


The one ingredient that I did have on hand was crap loads of broccoli.  I mean, really, .... lots and lots of broccoli. I have no idea why. I think they multiplied themselves in the dark like little mice do in the walls when you are forced to sleep in one of those government group living situations.

I had about four tablespoons of olive oil left in the jar and only four and a half cloves of garlic. I wanted to use onions, but there were none. Who would’ve guessed that the lack of chopped onions could bring a tear to the eye as easily as a chopped one?

According to one chowder recipe I looked up I should use thyme, which was awesome since I had some amazing  French thyme!  And then I realized that, apparently, I had already used the last of that up. Oh.

Because I was in need of  some kind of spice, I *did*  find three old jalapeno peppers that were wrinkling in the back of the vegetable crisper and I gutted one of them with all the care and suspicion one might utilize in prepping a fish caught in the wild wilderness of the San Francisco bay. I then chopped it and then threw the other two away. I minced the garlic with a garlic press, I dumped all the olive oil I had in the pan with a little crushed pepper and some sage. Sage ought to be just as good as thyme, right? I mean, they *are* both green in an army sort of way.

After sautéing the items on the back burner (because I could not get the front one to light anymore and I was too lazy to get matches) I added some flour and stirred, then added more flour, and stirred – and continued to do this until it was as thick as a monkey's spunk. You don’t want to leave the pan alone at this point. It’s kind of the same as when you are breaking in a new whore. If you let her sit too long, she get’s bitter on you. If you aren’t hands-on enough, she will develop all kinds of crazy crusts and clumps and she will be entirely un-serviceable. All–in-all, it’s just not pretty. Keep your hand on the wheel, stirring that pot regularly. Then, and only then, can you proceed to give her some cream.

But I didn’t have cream. I only had milk. So that is what I used to loosen that thick flour. And then I loosened it more with more milk, and then some water I had put in my Better than Bouillon jar in order to utilize the remaining flavor scraps stuck to the sides. But it wasn't enough. I needed more bouillon, and I didn’t have any more, so I added some of the champagne I was drinking ( I forgot to mention that I found some leftover 4 buck Trader Joe's champers, didn't I?) which did not do anything for the flavor at all. And so I tried a little powdered mustard, which did help but did not erase the bland bitter flavour of that cheap booze which should only really be subjected to orange juice before being imbibed. But then I remembers that Braggs proudly proclaims that it makes a great tasting broth! YAY! Well, shit. I ain’t got no other options, so in it went along with the last remaining ½ cup of parmesan cheese I had in the fridge. This did it quite well, but it still wasn’t enough. And that was when I remembered that we had super crappy beer in the fridge. Super crappy beer is only good for two things. Drinking in the desert sun at high noon and using as a soup base. I figured that I well fell into the latter of those two catagories and put about half that beer in with the food. The other half is still looking at me with it’s sad cheap beer eyes that say “Are you really going to pour me down the drain just because you aren’t in the desert and it isn't noon?” 

The natural accompaniment to both cheap beer and chowder is, … lemons!

Thank goodness  I have one withered old lime that has been living atop the fridge  for the last month! Because of it's age the skin had gone yellow which means it counts as a lemon.

So, that went in along with some basil and marjoram because, you know, what the hell. At least I have it. And then I put on about two heads of chopped broccoli, which will leave me exactly one head and a bunch of kale left to figure out what the hell to do with tomorrow.

I realize, after boiling a little on medium, that I need more cheesey flavor. This is a problem since I no longer have any more cheese. But I do have nutritional yeast flakes, the cheese of the straight edge community! It has all the flavor of cheese but it’s more like a super hero person/icon, instead. And with a little more Braggs to top it off, it was just perfectly zingy and salty and fresh and spicy- like a 1945 sailor you might meet on the docks of San Pedro who just got his first swallow tattoo, but might not have totally realized that he is gay yet.  Maybe with age it will mellow perfectly.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

King Cakes, Mardi Gras, Sphincters, and Death.

So, baking. Not cooking, but baking. This is not going to be pretty. If you choose to follow this recipe and hope to come to some conclusive and edible results, may god - whatever the god of your choosing is - have mercy on your soul.

Baking is much more science-y than cooking. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
But cooking allows for my ADD nature.

Baking, well......
Baking requires temperatures and mixing of precice measurements and frothings and tools with strange names such as "pastry hook." I mean, really? What the hell did people do before Cuisinarts? Hire pirates to help them in the kitchen? That just doesn't seem very realistic. After all, they are known for their pie thieving.

  Mmm. Tuna pie! 


Maybe this is why, in the 1950's, if you wanted a desert, you would most likely be presented with something like this:




So, for this damn King's Cake you need five egg yolks. My husband told me that we reallyreallyreally had more than five at home. So we didn't buy any at the store. But then, of course,  when we got home there were just four. Naturally, I suggested he steal one from our neighbors who are out of town for the week. We will replace it before they get back, not to worry. This is why they gave us keys, after all.  I poked him with a sharp stick while I said all of this to drive the earnestness of my need home and to force him into the debased state of stealing from the very people who we love and who trust us with their house keys.  He sheepishly left and brought back an egg. When he returned, he was sweating a little. Also, he said that the egg was actually dated to be thrown out three weeks ago.

In the spirit of baking science (Science!)






Mike looked up three ways to tell if an egg is still good. Something about it floating or sinking. Something about a sloshing sound, and something about a flat yolk. It passed all of these so I went ahead and used the egg.  I'm making this for a non-profit agency. That's akin to saying it is for orphaned children, right?

I will put aside my judgement of my neighbors terribly old eggs and why they didn't just buy new ones for the moment.

So, the recipe.  I have to mix these five egg yolks with one and a half stick of butter and a cup of milk. And it all has to be sort of warm but not really hot because we have to throw in two packets of yeast in the mix. Yeast, the drama queen of all food items.

"I have to be hot! ... Oww! That's too hot! I'm dying!!! I need it to be dark! I want it to be quiet! Stop stomping. I swear! If you take my beauty towel off to check on me ONE MORE TIME I am going to collapse! It will be all your f'ing fault, you bitch!"

Yeast is like Lady Gaga. But more like when Lady Gaga was actually Madonna.




I think we all know, though, if Lady Gaga were actually Madonna more crimes would be solved.


Okay. Egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest, nutmeg, 4 1/2 cups flour, milk, butter, salt, and the goddamn yeast. It's all in there. It's all mixed to a pasty pasty dough which I mauled with my bare hands.

And I threw a teaspoon of vanilla in there. Oh yeah, I did. It wasn't in the recipe, but I just did it anyway.

And (pssst) this is why all of my baking fails. I just can't deal with chemistry. I have to fuck up the balance one way or another.

So now the dough is rising in a quiet sanctuary of a red Target plastic mixing bowl in an oven where the environment is as controlled and quiet and close to a recording studio as anything in my kitchen. It's supposed to double. I was supposed to make it into a ball and put oil on it, but that wasn't in my contract and she isn't going to pay me overtime. Plus, I hate it when she calls me Alejandro.

I make this filling from cream cheese and one cup confectioners sugar, lemon juice - and just for fucks sake I throw in pecans. I know, I know. The cake and I are going to hell. I'm just asking for it. I can't help it really that the recipe said nothing about pecans. But they were all staring at me in the baking aisle promising me a really good time for two dollars! Tell me you wouldn't do the same?

While the cake is rising, I also make the icing from three cups of confectioners sugar, lemon juice, and some milk. Also, vanilla. I put some more vanilla in there, so sue me. I did it. I don't care. I don't feel guilty.

Someone told me I can't put a baby in the cake anymore. They stopped doing that because of the choking hazzard. So, okay. But what the fuck am I going to do with this small child I brought home from the Pac  n' Save, now? Can anyone tell me that?

Shit.

Can't people just eat around the baby? Do you have to protect people from everything? This is why people need to just slow the fuck down and chew their food.

Instead of a baby I will use a small uncooked bean.

I guess I can still use the small child to sew shirts once I figure out how to thread the bottom bobbin on my sewing machine.

You know, in the olden days, the person who got the baby, or the bean, or whatever the fuck they were using when they were not worried about being sued to death like they are these days, you know what happened to that person?

Yeah yeah yeah..... he was crowned king and all. Such an honor! Such a blessing!

You know what happened at the end of the week when they were all sick of his kingly narcissistic ass?

They took him out back of the cornfields and slit his throat!

 Except, instead of cornfields, they had wheat fields. And instead of slitting his throat they had.....

No. Just kidding. They still slit his throat.

It was for the gods! It was important. That was why he was King of the Bean. You don't want to be responsible for the failure of all the crops and the starvation of thousands, do you? If you don't kill the King of the Bean, that's just what will happen and it will be all on your head.

You think all those bog men just got hung and drowned on their own?
Please, honey! It takes a village.




But now we can't put babies in the cakes and we can't take people out into the cornfields when they bug us too much after a week.

*Sigh*

Mardi Gras sure has changed.

So the dough rose and I made it into a ring and I stuffed the middle with the nut/cheese filling. But there is a HELL of a lot more filling left than what I can put in the ring! Even after I make one ring and one extra brioche type thingy on the side. This is not a good sign. I believe I may have screwed up again. There is nothing to do at this point but forge ahead and continue baking.


Extra filling ->


Brioche ring -->


I set everything aside to rise for 45 minutes.

45 minutes it still hasn't risen. It's bitching about being cold. I didn't put it back into the oven space.
This time, it's in the oven and I will check again in 30 minutes.

Okay, this time it rose. I put milk on it, as per the instructions, but this seemed to make the dough fall just a little. I have no idea what that means. However, once in the 350' oven, I'm supposed to check back on this thing in 30 minutes. I will do this.

After 30 minutes I began to smell a burning smell.  I checked the cake and discovered it was quite dark on the bottom. As a result, I had to perform an ancient ritual of my people using a sacred serrated hunting knife wherein I scrape the darkness away from the bottom of the cake. This darkness represents the bitterness of winter. I must keep scraping in order to perceive the incoming sweetness of the sunlight of spring.

Once done I poured the icing all over the cakes. It was drippy and not at all spreadable -



I put the requisite tri-colored spinkles on from my Safeway multi-pack festive sprinkle collection!

And the result looked something like this:


Not entirely a disaster. They might not even make me eat the bean this year. Though it did look a bit like an overly festive sphincter. Not that sphincters are a bad thing.