Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Never Loved Your (Hypothetical) Mother...

Sorry I've been gone so long.

I've been involved in wedding planning, I was away in San Francisco last weekend.

The reason I couldn't check in is really because of the above title.

I'm sure you've been apoplectic with worry.

In the meanwhile, as I prepare for other obligations, let me leave you with the following thought that occurred to me in Sausalito, where my very lovely cousin was kind enough to take us:
Rich people.

They're like us, but they know how to live.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Pinch of This, a Pinch of That

I grew up helping my mother cook, from chopping parsley with a cleaver as big as my arm at five years onwards and upwards. Somehow, since we've moved I've been cooking a good deal more than I had before, and trying to work on some new dishes outside of the vital four or five that I've always done (steaks, salmon with a yogurt sauce vert, gruyere stuffed portobello mushrooms, sherry-ginger teriyaki grilled chicken and a couple of others aside from the standard omelette etc. regimen.)

For what it's worth, I will pass this along to any male folks who fear the kitchen: women love to have a guy cook for them, and you'll get a pretty big handicap for trying, even if it comes out terribly. If you dive in and try to do it, just get ready to look up what the terms mean, (julienne is just a way to cut tiny slivers of a vegetable... you can do that, right?) and never forget the rule that (I believe) Julia Child was fond of reciting: if it doesn't come out "right", it's just a New Recipe!

Eventually, you can just work out your own ideas, but when you are trying to get a little more flexible, and learn some new flavors, work from a recipe. Every guy (gentle lady readers, I don't mean to assume that you all love to cook, but odds are generally that men are less likely to feel compelled to do any of this, so you are free to listen to this marginally informed voice as you wish) should know how to cook two or three different things for dinner without having to have a heart attack about it. It will never harm you, and almost definitely help...

That being said, in the past week or two, I've run through the following that can not be recommended enough:

Miso Glazed Salmon
Tigger loved this one, and was trying to sneak the unused marinade out behind my back while waiting for the fish to cook outside. You can do this on the barbecue grill, with or without Alder or Cedar planks, though they do make it a lot easier to work with the fish, and produce a fantastic flavor if you have the time to find them. Alder-, Apple- or Cherrywood chips on the fire are a great addition, but not essential. They will certainly make you feel more rugged... and there's something to be said for that.

Almost any version of Moroccan lentil soup you can find is to be done and is just tremendous. Just remember to add lemon juice at the end, and give yourself more time to let the soup cook, you can just let it simmer away until you are ready to eat... while you're not required to puree the soup down in a blender, I am not crazy about the texture of lentils or beans, so running it through a blender means not having to go wild with mincing down all the ingredients to microscopic sizes. I let ours bubble away for about two to three hours and it's just spectacular. Not hard, just really good cold weather comfort food.

Last weekend I tried a slow smoked rib recipe, using a pretty standard KC style dry rub, and while I wasn't perfectly happy with the results, consider the following: a full rack of ribs at a restaurant is going to cost you $20 at least. That cut of meat is probably the cheapest thing you can find at the butcher, and there's something really satisfying about standing around a barbecue, indirectly cooking ribs and fiddling with the vents to keep the fire low and slow, while drinking with a good friend for two or three hours waiting for lunch.

The rub needs some working out, and the technique is in development, and it won't impress a date to have you stinking of hickory wood and drunk by the time dinner rolls around, but the next selection is pretty spot on for that purpose...

It's a bit more work, and I wouldn't call it exactly healthy* (note the butter, cream, and of course the cholesterol from shrimp as well) but this version of Shrimp Bisque will not disappoint. You can make it easier on yourself by getting shelled shrimp or another kind of fish and using fish bouillon, but the process of making stock is part of the fun, and having a pot of boiling shrimp heads on the stove has a certain morbid appeal. It won't be a quick process, but it will be like heave when you're finished. For that recipe, I did also add a cup of sherry, which I like the flavor of, and used Old Bay instead of "Creole Seasoning", because the local store was not cooperative with any concept of Creole anything. Worked out just fine. Don't let the soup boil again once you add the cream, or ugly things will happen! Again, this one I like pureed down to make a smooth consistency with all the flavors blending together, but you don't have to if you aren't feeling like it. Again, you'll save yourself a lot of knifework to get the vegetables slaughtered to sufficiently miniscule pieces, but it's your call. I also switched the green peppers for a few tomatoes with the seeds removed, as Tigger loathes peppers. I'm working on that, though.

There have been others, but these were something to write home about. Or, for that matter, randomly stand on a virtual street corner shouting about. Enjoy good eating and beautiful weather if you are blessed with it, and be well.

*It is all well and good to be aware of counting calories and being healthy, but there are times where it is best to remember these words:
"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart that looks at her watch." --James Beard
That being said, you'll find that the other recipes indicated here are not only cheap and satisfying, but remarkably healthy. Maybe a little heavy on the salt for the salmon, but that's about it.

Friday, May 9, 2008

I Know, Never Talk About Politics or Religion, But...

I've already screwed up the religion bit, so why not?

I am a lifelong Democratic voter, and I live in New York.

I voted for Hillary Clinton in the primary here, and really wanted her to win. Had I had my druthers, I would have loved to see Bill Richardson run the table, but he had left the race when he got here, and I made a choice I still feel was the right one.

Barack Obama doesn't seem to have what it takes (to my mind) to win in the Rustbelt must win states that every Democrat needs to get themselves settled into a big leather chair in the Oval Office in late January. Something about being smart, thin, and not having a Southern accent just combines to a terrifyingly bad combination for the general election... I firmly believe that having a Southern accent is the one and only way for a Democrat to become president (Clinton, Carter, LBJ, need I say more for the modern era?) At least try and eat some gravy when it's offered to you.

All that being said: Hillary has started to turn into Democratic Party's Real Life Version of Monty Python's Black Knight.

While I have no doubt that getting one's legs bitten off is no fun at all, that's pretty much the only remaining recourse. I think we're about where it's time to pack the tents up and call off the invasion... okay? For the love of all that's holy, even George McGovern, for whom you were a campaign volunteer is telling you to let this one go.

It's the junction of the Black Knight, and an old SNL sketch of "The Superfans" that I recall vaguely, with a phrase to the effect of "...though the Bears are mathematically eliminated from making the playoffs, Ditka will bring them to the Super Bowl."

Dear "Reader, kindly forgive any inaccuracies in that "quote".

I believe, after watching photos of her working her way through every diner and bar in Indiana, that she (win or lose) just kind of loves the horror of being on the campaign trail, and I only worry that she has now worn out every Dairy Queen in the nation... she seemed tremendously happy sharing small talk over a Blizzard in AP wire photos printed today.

It's time to put this race to bed, and... Mrs. C.? Try and remember: Rocky lost in the first movie.

James Carville reportedly said that if Hillary gave one of her balls to Obama, they'd both wind up with two. No one is questioning that you've got moxie, kid. It takes a wise general to know when to concede the field, and the time has come to do just that, or risk having Grandpa Abe McCain as President.

Have a lovely night, folks.

And, since I'm totally making a whore out of myself: drop on by if you have a minute. I've listed myself there, for reasons of proving to myself that someone out there cares, or doesn't.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Someone Must Be Pretty Excited About Summering at the Vineyard

Went for a walk today through Murray Hill in Manhattan, and saw what may be the whitest person ever:

A British Racing Green Mini Cooper rolled by, with the vanity plate "CHUKKA 6" on it.

A rich, white, mini driver in Manhattan who was a polo fan.

I can only speculate on whether he picked "6" because he was behind five clamoring people on line who wanted to shout their love of polo, or whether they are even more awesomely riche and like Magnum P.I.'s boss have tagged all their cars with CHUKKA [#].*

*To be fair, Robin Masters didn't initally have the cars festooned with personalized, serialized license plates, but the episodes that I remember from my occasional dabblings in my youth sure were marked "Robin 1"

Monday, May 5, 2008

Can't Comment

I just had a really rough day.

I have some things about Gojira, and the wedding event planning weekend we all just endured, ad all kinds of other stuff.

I also just got in touch with an old friend's mom, to find out about inviting my oldest and best friend to this here wedding, and I just found out that his dad passed away. I feel really awful right now, and I feel especially awful that I let myself get so separated from someone I have this much love for, and I have no funny to bring.

His father was in his sixties, as are my parents.

More stuff will follow, but I have nothing at the moment. Thanks for understanding.