Anger Burger

Chicken of Sadness

Posted by on May 31, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Because I don’t want you to think I hyperactively whip out complicated dinners every night, I want to you see this.

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About six months ago I bought this frozen “Chicken Provençal” from Trader Joe’s and then forgot it in in the freezer.  Last night I struggled to come to some kind of conclusion about what to make for dinner for so long that it was too late to actually cook any dinner.  I had to be in bed in an hour.  I was hungry.  I didn’t even have bread for a sandwich.  A listless dig through the freezer exposed the ancient plastic-encased frozen dinner, and into the oven it went.

It was disgusting and tremendously freezerburned, as you can see.  But I ate it anyway.  Do you ever do that?  Eat something as a measure of punishment — but to whom, exactly?

1 Posted in Food Rant

A List of Things

Posted by on May 30, 2009 at 7:40 pm
  • What should I make for dinner?
  • I forgot to make myself lunch and reluctantly went to Subway to purchase a sandwich.  I like Subway alright — assuming it is made decently.  I find that the level of skill varies so drastically from store to store that I no longer like playing lunch roulette with them.  Anyway, so this one Subway near my work is so busy that one would assume a truckload of starving orphans were shipped in from 1931 for the lunch hour, and thus, probably had fresh bread at the least¹.  I asked for an Italian sub, toasted, which I schlepped back to the stinking, filthy breakroom of my place of employment and sluggishly took a large bite.  The sandwich, to my confusion, exploded like a fluorescent tube being dropped.  PSSSHT.  Micro-fine breadcrumbs lay in a thick layer over the table and my lap.  I opened my mouth and a fine powder of dry bread particulate drifted out.  I don’t know if it was age, the toasting, or a combination of both, but I believe I witnessed a miracle of science, like finding a jar in an Egyptian tomb still sticky with ancient honey.
  • No, really, what should I make for dinner?
  • I guess this wasn’t a list, but a story about a sandwich.

¹That was a fucked up sentence, but I’m tired and hungry and of the Dumbest Generation, so I’m not going to fix it because I use the Internet and thus can’t be bothered to read The Great Gatsby².

²Can you tell I’m angry about this book?  No?

0 Posted in Totally Unrelated

Nectar

Posted by on May 29, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Okay, so, iced tea.  I feel like we both don’t need me to tell you about iced tea, but I’m going to.

I suppose because my daddy’s family is from South Carolina I know a thing or two about iced tea, but yet again it is one of those things that inspires vehement opinion.  I’m going to open the Thunderdome Angerdome for business and say: iced tea should be black and sweet and if you’re feeling peckish a wedge of lemon will suffice.

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If you’re from a certain part of the South, you swear by Luzianne and nothing but Luzianne.  I’m pretty sure you’re shot in the ass with rock salt if you suggest Red Rose might be a reasonable substitute.  But then you have your Liptonites.  Of course, my claims at authenticity are about to disintegrate, but I’m pretty sure I remember my Grandma Evelyn buying whatever was on sale.  You have your Southerners, and then you have your women from the South.  If you know what I mean.  And I’m not even sure I do.  Whatever the case, I have access to Lipton so Lipton it is — for the record, I’m not crazy about Lipton as a hot tea (it has a tendency to get fucking bitter) but their “Iced Tea Blend” in “Family Packs” is both hilarious (see above photo) and tasty.  And purchasable anywhere.

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The next thing is the sugar.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll drink an unsweetened iced tea (if it comes unsweetened I sure as shit ain’t putting one of those pink packets in it), but it isn’t the same.  It requires at cup (!!!) of sugar to a pitcher of tea, which is the same amount suggested on the back of a packet of Kool-Aid.

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I put in enough water to easily dissolve the sugar and soak the tea bags, something like three cups.  It’s not important to measure.  Pulling off the strings from the tea is also another ‘whatever’ step – I do it.  You don’t have to.  I just don’t want to fuss with a hot tea bag tied to the side of my pot later, but you might be a masochist.  Either way, there’s a ton of methods for this part, but this one is mine: once the water starts to simmer, throw in the tea bags, turn the heat off, cover the pot, and walk away for at least ten minutes but up to thirty.  That’s it, tea syrup.  Add water to bring the whole thing up to level and chill.  Of course, “level” is whatever you want it to be, but if you’re going to be drinking your tea with ice I highly recommend keeping it all on the strong side and letting the tea mellow as it chills.

Plenty of Southern women swear by different tactics, and here are some that I disagree with:

  • Baking soda. Some swear that a pinch of soda makes the tea “clear” and “less bitter” but I find that no one has ever given a shit if the tea is clear and if it’s made without boiling the tea bags, it won’t be bitter.  Also, if you overdo the soda even a little you get salty-ish, chemically-tasting tea.  Rad.
  • Sun tea. This is an arguable point, but I don’t think it’s Southern tea if it has been made in the sun.  See: the entire part where you dissolve a cup of granulated sugar into it.
  • Mint. No.

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Obviously it tastes better in a Strawberry Shortcake pitcher.

My dad was once reminiscing about being a kid in the South, part of which was a story of how he and his friends would run around the neighborhood each twilight for hours, stopping only to chug giant aluminum tumblers of sweet tea.  I sort of chuckled and said, “You must have been pleasant to be around,” to which he gave me a hurt and confused look.  “A 60-lb. child drinking whole buckets of caffeine and sugar?  It’s a miracle you weren’t bleeding from the ears.”  A moment of genuine surprise lit his face.  “No wonder we were so energetic!”

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Proper Sweet Iced Tea

9 bags regular sized tea or 3 packets “family sized” or “iced tea” bags
1 C. sugar
6? 7? 8? C. of water?  who knows

  • In a medium saucepan, bring 1 C. sugar and a few cups of water to barely a simmer.
  • When the water is just barely bubbling here and there, toss in the tea bags and turn off heat.  Cover with lid.
  • Leave to steep for about 15-20 minutes, and as long as a half an hour.
  • Decant to a pitcher and at least double the water (without the bags), stopping to taste as you go.  Leave it a little stronger than seems perfect.
  • Serve with ice and a squeeze of lemon.
4 Posted in Food Rant, Make It So

Oh Yes It’s Taco Night, Oh What a Night

Posted by on May 27, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Pizza Party!  Spaghetti Dinner!  Taco Night!

You know what I’m talking about.  And even though we didn’t exactly have these at my house growing up¹ — we had Clam Dinner and Fish Fry and similar parties, but they don’t really capture the American dream like the non-native foods do — I had enough friends to know that Spaghetti Dinner meant cheese from a can, iceberg lettuce with ranch dressing and damp, greasy garlic bread.  Fantastic!

Mike’s mom told me a story about how when she was going to night classes at college, she asked her husband and two kids to each take a night of the week to be in charge of making dinner.  Predictably, each night that was Mike’s?  Tacos.  Of course, he has terrible memories of this period since his sister often chose split pea soup, but this is the drama of adolescence.

So anyway, Taco Night.  Despite my willingness to acquiesce to those foods most childish, I find that my ideal adult Taco Night taco is somewhere between a proper taco and an American taco: soft corn tortilla, oily orange ground beef, shredded cabbage, fresh salsa and sour cream.

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First things first: salsa.  I hate store-bought salsa of most varieties.  I’ve been laughed at for this before, but I’m highly sensitive to the taste² of sodium benzoate — a preservative used in acidic foods — so much so that I can’t drink most commercial lemonades.  And salsas, as a matter of storytelling.  Luckily its a mere matter of chopping tomatoes, onion and cilantro and maybe halfheartedly squeezing a nearly-rotten lime into the whole thing and calling it a job well-done.

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And then the meat!  Clearly a non-meat substitute would do just fine here, because most important is the packet of Lawry’s Taco Spices & Seasonings (the plurals really get me) – without this magical packet of orange powder, your filling just won’t have that orange oil that makes Taco Night tacos so special.  Be advised: most other brands have cornstarch as the first ingredient, but Lawry’s is actually spices.

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So so far we have salsa fresca and orange meat, but perhaps even more importantly is a lack of crunchy taco shells.  I respect those that love the crunchy shell, but I just can’t abide by them.  Even as a child I hated the way they were always stale and then snapped perfectly down their length, rendering them useless within the first moment of biting them.

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After that the cabbage is not terribly important (I like it because it is crunchy and I am more likely to use the rest of a head of cabbage than I am a head of lettuce) and cheese is a matter of preference.  Sour cream seems vital to me, though others might disagree and I wouldn’t kick them out of my house.

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And perhaps most importantly of all, this genuine capture of the reason this website is named Anger Burger in the first place: my occasional expression of rage when eating something I find transcendently delicious.  Look at all the muscles around my eyes!  I’m like some kind of Star Trek alien.

¹Well, we totally had Pizza Party, back when Brewery City Pizza was the only pizza to be had in Olympia. Which is, upon my last tasting of several years ago, pretty dismal as far as pizza goes.  Though a few years back they did send out fliers advertising a “Moroccan” pizza that had two kinds of pork and came with a beer special.

²It also has been linked to hyperactivity in children and other nastiness, too, so avoiding it might behoove all of us.

**Also note: I am eating raw tomatoes despite knowing they aggrivate my Crohn’s — we’ll see what happens!

4 Posted in Food Rant, Make It So

Greetings!

Posted by on May 27, 2009 at 2:05 am

I’m still alive.  A work-&-guest storm blew me off track, but I’m getting back on it.  In the meantime, pop over to Catastrophysicist, where I meant to just read for a minute and ended up reading the entire damn blog back to its inception.

2 Posted in Totally Unrelated

How to Lose Jolliness

Posted by on May 23, 2009 at 1:03 pm

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about diets, and not because I want to be on one.  It’s because I work at a bookstore where a large table/display of nutrition and diet books was set up, and I walk by it and stare at it probably dozens of times a day, and by the time I get off work I want nothing more than an entire extra-cheese pizza topped with mini-doughnuts.

I think the repellent part of the books boils down to two main categories:

  • Fad Diets — diet books that recommend eating habits far outside the natural human spectrum of eating
  • Semantics Diets — diet books that aren’t really diet books at all, but massive compendiums on common sense

naturally-thinAn example of a Fad Diet book that is very popular right now is Bethenny Frankel’s Naturally Thin.  You may know Frankel from The Real Housewives of New York — or not, I didn’t — and after reading this book of hers you’ll know her as The Lady Who Wrote a Book About How to Be Anorexic.  I’m not being snarky here: in the book she advises that you can eat “whatever you want” provided you only take three bites.  Literally, truly, this is her primary diet tip.   Aside from that she advises that you refrain from eating until you are really hungry (which scads of research has shown does the opposite of what she thinks; it sends your brain into ‘starvation mode’ which then tells your body to grip tight to all that fat), her real secret to being “naturally” skinny?  She eats less than 1,000 calories a day.

To give you an idea of what 1,000 calories a day is, the average, sedentary adult needs 1,400 calories to maintain weight.  In other words, if you were on a ship lost at sea, unmoving except to drink water and eat some raw fish you caught, you’d need to eat 1,400 kcal of that fish¹ in order to keep from dropping pounds.  An active average woman needs more like 2,200.  Frankel, who we are to assume is also exercising regularly, based on her book and her TV appearances, is either lying about what she’s eating (since she’d quite literally be dead if she ate less than 1,000 calories a day), or … wait, no, that’s the only answer.  She’s lying about what she’s eating.  Her little “I can eat whatever I want” splurges must consist of three metered bites of seal blubber.

And this shit sells like crazy!  People love this garbage!

I’m less critical of the Semantics Diet books, which are primarily just lessons on how to eat less fat, and how much you should be exercising.  They are by themselves harmless, though in the long-run of the psyche I suspect they’re pretty harmful anyway.  I don’t think people just don’t know they’re not supposed to eat a whole box of Ho-Hos.  I think we all know.  And I’m not even totally sure that counting calories is going to help most people (though, education on that front is certainly needed – I have a nurse friend who told me an anecdote about teaching women and children how to read the nutrition labels on a package of tortillas, and all of them confidently answered that the serving size represented on the label was for the entire bag of 30 tortillas.)overeating

In fact, if I had to recommend a diet book to someone, I’d recommend The End of Overeating, by David A. Kessler.  And surprise: it’s not a diet book at all.  It’s an examination of what he calls “conditioned hypereating,” a sort of brainwashing we as Americans are subjected to by the mere presence of Big Macs.  I mean, I’m obviously paraphrasing here.  What I like about The End of Overeating is that he provides a culprit and a solution while acknowledging what no diet book does: there is no quick fix.  For many Americans, this will be the hardest thing they’ll ever do.  Many generations of Americans have worked toward making sure that we eat a lot of processed foods, but it should hearten most to know that mere understanding of this fact is sometimes enough to stop people.  Though, as a side note, I have to say that I don’t think I like what the cover of his book is implying, that instead of eating carrot cake we should eat carrots.  I think we can all vote a hearty “fuck that shit,” yes my readers?

Also to my great agitation: The Fat Flush Diet Plan by Ann Luise Gittleman.  Oh my gittlemandog (<—actual typo!), I want to punch this woman in the tit.  Like many of her ilk, under the guise of some kind of medical hooey, Gittleman walks you though subsisting entirely from a slurry of ground flax seed, unsweetened cranberry juice and and fuck knows what else.  Dubbing herself the “First Lady of Nutrition” does little to earn points with me, particularly after advising that people with Crohn’s disease follow her liquid purge fiascoes (she believes, in part, that bacteria are responsible for why people with Crohn’s disease feel bad, despite all medical and scientific evidence to the contrary).  And sure, all her Whole Foods rampage shit is many times better than Miss Bethenny up there, but they are two ends of a really ill-conceived whole.  One should never, ever, ever forget that these people are selling you their advice.  They tell you: you cannot do this without me.  Gittleman is the First Lady for sure, but of needlessly complicated, fussy and expensive fasting.

But I suppose no one will get get rich off of a book that merely reads: burn more calories than you consume and you will lose weight.

¹Also to give you an idea of how  healthy fish is, 1,400 calories of fish is about three edible pounds of fish meat, depending on the species.  Bad news if you’re actually lost at sea.

First World Problems

Posted by on May 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm

This is almost as off-subject as I can get, but I sometimes I miss out on the kind of information that I wish I had and I think, I should tell someone about this.  And you are that someone!

Okay, so, eyeliner.  I kind of can’t wear eyeliner, and I’m unsure why.  Is it because I sweat?  I’m not terribly greasy, naturally, but perhaps because I wear sunblock on my face?  By whatever mechanism, the eyeliner just rubs back off again, sometimes mysteriously disappearing over the day, but most times by smearing into my surrounding eye-sockets so that I look like a ghoul.  Awesome if I were goth.  Less awesome in that I am not.

I shopped around on the internet, and everyone gushed about this eyeliner by Urban Decay called “24/7″.  Lasts forever!  Totally waterproof!  Hard to even get back off again!  Perfect, I thought, and I bought a stick.  And guess what?  It smeared into my eye sockets in record time.  Piece of shit.

Now, my friend Leesa taught me that the easiest, cheapest eyeliner is to buy a cheap angled art brush and with a little water, make a paste with some budget eyeshadow in the color you desire.  It’s not waterproof nor especially long-lasting, but it’s about the same as any stick eyeliner on the market and you’re only in about $10 for a single color (and, depending on the brand, a new color can be had for as little as $3).  Since this method didn’t age any better than another, I never really stuck with it.

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The dollar is to demonstrate size, not price – you’ll need 19 more to pay for it.

Until I read about a product called “Eye Seal” by Make Up For Ever. Dangerously¹ bottled in an eye-dropper,the idea is that you mix a little with your dry eye shadow and behold, an impenetrable eyeliner product.  Or so they say.  Let’s do a test!

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On the left we have Urban Decay’s bullshit “24/7″ eyeliner, and on the left right we have a drop of “Eye Seal” mixed with a cheap-ass Maybelline black eyeshadow.  The blobby part right where the arrow is pointing was where I dropped the brush on my hand right before taking the photo, so try and ignore that bit.

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What happened here?  I rubbed my finger across the top half of both lines for oh, maybe five or six passes?  Yes, I was rubbing pretty hard, but you can see what a clear difference this is — the “Eye Seal” stuff hasn’t budged.  Not even an atom.  And the “24/7″?  Obliterated.

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Turns out that “Eye Seal” is the real deal.  Now, it’s a little tricky to work with, only because it is in essence a shellac – it dries very fast and has to be scrubbed out of your brush with soap and water immediately.  I’ve also seen some tutorials that direct you to drop the liquid directly into the eyeshadow, which I find didn’t work as well as putting a drop on the counter tile and then dabbing back and forth between the liquid and the shadow.  For me, using a cheap angled art brush was second nature, though I imagine others might have a difficult time of it.  And the biggest danger?  If you screw up, it’s a bitch to get it back off without straight-up washing your face.

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That being said, I’ve pushed the limits with it, right down to wearing it with full sunblock, walking 4 miles in sweaty 80°+ heat, tiredly rubbing at my eyes, everything.  And when I get home, it looks like I just put it on.  It’s a bit of an investment, but considering that it actually works (and the chances that you already have a few shades of shadow that you could use as an eyeliner), it ends up being a good deal.  That, and I for one am pretty excited to finally be able to pass amongst grownups unnoticed².

¹By all that’s holy, don’t store Eye Seal with your eyedrops, I think they named it “Eye Seal” for more than one reason.
²Ha-haaa!  I am totally joking, I still can’t pass for a grownup.

9 Posted in Totally Unrelated

pickle is betterthan men

Posted by on May 21, 2009 at 10:53 am

Is what someone Googled to find this blog today.

More later.

Sunday

2 Posted in Totally Unrelated

Fuzzy Memories

Posted by on May 20, 2009 at 10:39 am

The night that I turned 21 was a bit of a blur – my dad helped throw a party at a local diner/bar that I could be in until midnight and my upgrade to legally drunk.  After midnight a group of friends took me over to a bar/bar where I vaguely recall a cascade of free drinks, being yelled at by my ex-boyfriend, crying, and then going home.  Adulthood!

The next day, hung-over and miserable, a different ex spotted me at the local coffee shop at around 3 in the afternoon – a.k.a., my morning – and insisted that I accompany him to the dingiest, sketchiest tavern in town.  I resisted.  He put his foot down.  Off we went.

The Brotherhood Tavern (not to be confused with the current occupants of the same space, The Brotherhood Lounge) was a location-scout’s dream; old men sat permanently glued to ancient, sticky vinyl barstools.  The bartenderess had the same amount of teeth she entered this world with.  There was a standing offer to fry a steak for you, if you brought your own steak in.  The bar itself was literally disintegrating from years of beer saturation and was held together with carpet samples¹ stapled into place.   And my primary point: it served Brew 66.

The legend of Brew 66 (which turns out to be merely quasi-true) was that Brew 66 – a beer only available by the keg – was the “second run” of Rainier, a beer already not known for its palatability.  Now, there’s obviously no such thing as a “second run” of beer, like a second, inferior pressing of olive oil, but it was an apt enough conclusion based on the especially foul nature of Brew 66.  Over the years, descriptions of Vietnam’s infamous 33 beer rumored to be brewed with everything from urine to formaldehyde (now called 333 and a standard, Budweiser-type rice-based tipple) made me immediately think of the dread Brew 66.  The other rumor was that it was so bad, they couldn’t sell it as a canned beer and instead sold it as kegs to the cheapest, poorest bars in town who were then free to mis-label it as they pleased.  Whatever the case, it didn’t matter: The Brotherhood Tavern sold pitchers of Brew 66 for $3 at a time when even the cheapest pitcher ran about $6 or $7.

That afternoon at the Tavern we played pool, went through a few pitchers of Brew 66, then ordered the legendary “broasted” chicken, a delicacy still found at some backwoods taverns (the Littlerock Tavern out in Littlerock, Washington still broasts, for example).  Broasting, if you can wrap your brain around it, is a pressurized deep fryer.  A more horrific-sounding kitchen accident waiting to happen I can’t imagine.  Basically, it’s a large pressure-cooker with a screw-on lid like a submarine door, filled with hot oil.  Chicken pieces cook in minutes and come out more tender and less greasy than traditionally deep-fried chicken.  After a few pitchers of beer, its pretty much fucking ambrosia. Both the Brotherhood Tavern and Brew 66 are now gone, and for the best.  Nostalgia on that kind of thing doesn’t age well.

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Anyway, last night as I watched an episode of Supernatural, the camera panned across the Winchester boys in a dive bar somewhere in the “Midwest” I shrieked and pointed and shrieked.  Authenticity be damned; the scene is supposed to be in the Midwest, though a decade-old Brew 66 neon could only be found in the good old Pacific Northwest, where the show is actually shot (if Vancouver, Canada counts as the Pacific Northwest, anyway).  But a bunch of classic-rock loving demon-hunters?  That IS Brew 66.

¹I swear this is true.

5 Posted in Food Rant

Pancake-n-Quake!

Posted by on May 18, 2009 at 11:00 am

Yesterday I had a chat with my mom about the maple syrup shortage at the end of which we both let out a Homerian “Mmmm, pancakes.”  Combined with Mike’s recent hinting that maybe French Toast was a good way to break out of the All-Asian-All-the-Time cycle, I broke down and agreed, yes, breakfast for dinner.

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This is way too much bacon, unless you have a penis.

A while back I switched to baking bacon rather than pan-frying it, and the day will come when for some reason I have to pan-fry the bacon again, and I will loathe that day.  Baking is (aside from the wasteful overuse of tinfoil) so totally superior in both clean-up and flavor that I simply can’t imagine another way.

The bacon we ate this time was the nitrite-free Trader Joe’s applewood smoked variety, and I honestly felt it was a little too campfirey to buy again.  When it was cooking it was really as though someone had rolled around in a wet, extinguished campfire and then rubbed a few pieces of ham on their body.  The taste was better, luckily.  It cooked up with an excellent texture, but a still-lingering over-smokiness.  I mean, I’d cook it again in a pinch, but you get my point.  Campfire.  No.

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I’ve been using the Joy of Cooking pancake recipe for years, which my mother doesn’t like but this is how I rebel.  I make it with buttermilk and always add fruit and ground flax.  Though, since we started eating a dose of flax oil every day (to lubricate our brains) the ground flax is redundant, but I still like the way it tastes.  Maybe I’ll switch to wheat germ.   Mike prefers bananas in his pancakes, and I just discovered that I prefer feijoa.  A lot.  In fact, it was the best pancake I’ve ever eaten.  It was perfect.  You can’t hear it, but my stomach is snarling as I write this.

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As I was getting our plates all nicely settled and we moved into the livingroom to watch a DVD while we ate, our room began to shake with the familiar feel of tectonic plates slipping.  I set my fork down on my plate (which then fell to the floor, and thus became the only Anger Burger household quake victim of the evening) while Mike debated picking up the plate of bacon as we exited to a safer room (one that isn’t ringed in bookshelves) (which are anchored to the wall, mom and dad, relax).  Anyway, bladda-bladda, by the time our brains caught up it was all over.  And then I forgot to take photos of our final meal.  So, here’s the recipe for the pancakes instead:

Joy of Cooking Basic Pancakes
cut down for two people

¾ C. AP flour
2 T. sugar
¼ C. ground flax seed (or wheat germ)
¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt

¾ C. buttermilk
2 T. melted butter
1 egg
½ tsp. vanilla

  • In a large bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together.
  • In a small Pyrex measuring cup, measure out the buttermilk, then add the melted butter, egg and vanilla.  Beat lightly until egg is broken up.
  • When griddle or pan is preheated to medium, stir the wet ingredients into the dry.
  • Fry (if nonstick, there’s no need to use butter or spray to grease the pan) the first side until large bubbles leave a few open holes on the top of the pancake.  This effort might be thwarted if you’ve sprinkled fruit pieces on the top, but that’s why you use a spatula to lift and peek under the pancake’s skirt.
  • The second side will brown much faster.  Cook just until the middle is puffed and springy.
  • Eat with incredibly expensive maple syrup.
  • Bring along extra fork in case there is an earthquake.
3 Posted in Drama!, Make It So