Anger Burger

Crab Louie, or, What Happens When Loggers Get Rich

Posted by on Apr 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm

There are two classic West Coast dishes famously (and perhaps falsely) invented in an overt attempt to demonstrate wealth.  The first of these is the delicious Hangtown Fry, and of the two dishes has the more delightfully shifty and embarrassing history¹.

DSC_4620

The other is the Crab Louie.  I don’t care what Spokane and San Fransisco claim, Crab Louie reeks of a Seattle inception: proud, somewhat unwieldy and aspiring to greatness it doesn’t need to aspire to, a Crab Louie is essentially Pacific Northwest, relying on fresh crab to pull jazzhands in an otherwise unremarkable pile of ingredients.

DSC_4624

But, like a lot of these dishes you imagine Rockefellers and Kennedys picking over while scheming the fate of the nation, they can be abysmal.  New money can sometimes slip in canned crab meat or even gasp-worthy imitation crab.  I got love for the imitation crab, but do not overestimate the Louis; without fresh, real crab, it’s just a mediocre salad.

DSC_46261

Which is not to say that it can be thrown together without thought or skill.  For example, it is a great mistake to assume that Thousand Island dressing is a reasonable substitute for Louie dressing — I assure you, despite what my mother says and despite the disapproving noise she’s making while reading this, Thousand Island is a different animal.

DSC_4630

Both dressings are pink, yes, but Louie is the more mature of the two, packing both heat and acrid tang on top of a creamy, tomatoey base.  Thousand Islands are typically sweet and chunky², which I’m sure holds charm for some.  I’m trying to refrain from describing those people.  To be polite.

DSC_4637

Crab Louie
over the years, Shrimp Louie has gained popularity, I suspect because fresh shrimp is much more readily found in typical grocery stores than crab.  I think this is a perfectly reasonable and fancy substitute, though in my family it is also acceptable to pad out the crab with some shrimp to keep costs down without skimping. the dressing recipe serves two but is easily doubled.

Louis Dressing:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. strong horseradish
1/2 small garlic clove, finely grated
pinches of salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. milk, to thin (optional)

salad:
your lettuce of choice, though I wouldn’t stray from butter, iceberg or romaine
hard boiled egg
cucumber
tomato
fresh cooked crab meat
fresh cooked shrimp
lightly cooked asparagus spears
green onion

  • Prepare the dressing a few hours or even the day before to give everything a chance to mellow out.  Just stir it all together.  If you used a hippie ketchup you might like to also add a pinch of sugar.
  • The proportions of a Louie are up to you, but like other chopped salads, the focus is less on the lettuce than the seafood, egg and vegetables.  The salad is stunning when presented as a platter to serve from, too, and a nice chance to be arty.  It seems silly to tell you how much of each vegetable to put in since it doesn’t really matter and you’re probably going to change it to your taste anyway.
  • Layer a small amount of chopped lettuce over the platter and then decorate with large, showy slices of cucumber, tomato and egg.  Pile the seafood in the center and serve the dressing on the side.  An alternative that I don’t personally care for is to barely overdress one portion of the salad — either just the lettuce, or just the vegetables, or just the seafood — and then serve all assembled.  However you serve it, be as generous as possible.  It might be an old-fashioned recipe, but done right it’s still mighty impressive.

¹ I have a certain beef with the Hangtown Fry story. First of all, were eggs really a luxury item in mining towns because they were “delicate”? Admittedly all I know of this era I learned from Deadwood, but it seems like those guys maybe knew how to keep a chicken or two.  And bacon had to be shipped from the East Coast, really?  No one at all on the West Coast made bacon?   This story is starting to sound like an episode of Drunk History.  The other claim is that a prisoner ordered an oyster omelet because they’d have to go walk 100 miles through rough, snowy, shark-infested mountains to get the  oysters and thus delay his execution.  But for reals, if the prisoner had asked for durian would they have had to trek to Indonesia for him?  Did the jailers have to do whatever the prisoners asked?  Nothing about these stories makes sense.

² Which is not a bad thing to be, if you are for example a girl. I could be more accurately described as bitter and lumpy, which isn’t as great.

0 Posted in Make It So

Chicken ‘N Niffles!

Posted by on Apr 26, 2010 at 7:47 am

There’s nothing wrong with the recipe in today’s Respect Your Elders.  In fact, it’s pretty much 110% right.

chicken-and-niffles

Niffles!  Tell people you’re making Niffles and they’ll eat whatever you make.  But the real thing sounds pretty good too: a beautifully poached chicken coated with butter served with dumplings on the side and topped with gravy. In fact, I’m going to refrain from the grumpiness you all seem to enjoy seeing me get worked into and present you with a straightforward re-write of the recipe.  If this makes you sad, read yesterday’s post.  I stick my head into a hole in my mom’s deck.

Chicken ‘N Niffles
like I said, it’s just deconstructed chicken and dumplings and could conceivably be made on two separate days, the first where you cook the chicken and broth, and the second where you make the Niffles and gravy, but as long as you’re going to get your kitchen all filthy you might as well just make it in one day.

4 pounds of skinless chicken pieces with bones (I vote thighs, personally)
1 carrot, cut into several large pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into several large pieces
1 small yellow onion, cut into eighths
a handful of fresh parsley, stalks and all
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. whole peppercorns
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. butter, melted

Niffles:
2 C. flour
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1/2 c. cold water

2 or more Tbsp. corn starch
more parsley to top final dish with

  • Don’t bother rinsing the chicken or anything, it just spreads the salmonella around.  Place the chicken in a large soup pot, just cover with water and add everything but the butter.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and allow the chicken to cook down until it falls off the bone, about 2 hours.
  • Remove chicken from the broth and allow to cool a little before picking the meat off the bone.  Discard the bones.  If eating soon, coat the chicken in melted butter, cover, and keep warm in oven  (about 250°).  If not eating right away, cover and refrigerate.
  • Drain the broth through a sieve and discard the chunks.  If you’re so inclined, you can spoon some of the liquid fat off the broth or even take it too far and chill the broth and then lift the solidified fat off, but if you do that then you probably should just eat some plain rice for dinner.  Return the broth to a smaller saucepan and bring to a very gentle, low simmer.
  • To make the Niffles, put the flour and salt in a medium bowl and make a well in the center.  Add the eggs and using a fork, mix it all together to make a thick dough.  Add water in small increments until you can drop soft but intact blobs of dough from the end of a spoon (you can use two spoons or your fingers to facilitate this process).  You may not need all the water.  Drop small blobs, like the size of mini Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups into the simmering chicken broth, about 10 at a time.   Let them cook for about five minutes and then scoop them out into a plate lined with a paper towel.  Continue until all the dough is used.
  • Thicken as much of the chicken broth as you’d like to make into gravy, using cornstarch by making a slurry of 1 tablespoon of starch with a few spoonfuls of cold water per 3/4 cup of broth.  Stir the slurry into the broth and simmer to thicken.  If not thick enough, add another tablespoon of slurry mix.
  • Serve chicken with a side of Niffles  and top the whole mess with gravy and a healthy handful of chopped fresh parsley.

That’s it.  This is literal good old-fashioned comfort food, the kind great-grandma used to make.  Even better is the quote at the end from Lucy, whom we neither know of nor really what the hell she’s talking about here:

“When we barbecue steaks I make the batter and drop the Niffles into boiling salted water instead of chicken broth.”

Okay, so far so good.

“I drain them quickly, toss them in brown butter and pop a couple of big spoonfuls on each steak plate.”

Sounds great!

“This way we get all the good steak juice without dunking.”

Wait, what?  Without dunking what?  The steak back into the steak juice?  Something else not yet mentioned?  Who knows, and Lucy’s long dead.  Long live Niffles!

Extra Jam and Horror Films

Posted by on Apr 25, 2010 at 8:36 am

Shopping at discount food stores has it’s ups and downs.  Today I scored several large and fresh packages of PG Tips for $3 each as well as six-packs of my favorite lemonade for $2.  But then there’s this stuff:

DSC_4535

I’m sure this jam is fine.  Even if it’s Extra Jam and has a label that I’m pretty certain was designed to be used for a body paint sexual aid.  Hell, I’ll always wonder if this was the best cherry jam in the world and I was just too conservative¹ to try it.  But probably not.

In totally unrelated news, last night I stuck my head in a small hole in my mom’s deck armed only with a flashlight and my denial that horror movies are real.  I was looking for a rabid raccoon.  I assume it was rabid.  I did it as a favor beings as I am the only one in the house limber enough to squat on the deck and hang my head inside a hole.  The spiders in my hair were free.

Anyway, it was one of a dozen recent reminders of a conversation my friend Leesa and I had about how people in horror movies don’t act like real people.  They do one of two things:

1)  Are incredibly alert, noticing the smallest of creepy sounds.  They will of course investigate this sound.

2)  Are totally not suspicious of creepy sounds at all and act like they just heard a kitten.  They will of course investigate this sound.

In reality, what happens is this: upon hearing creepy sound, you realize you’ve been hearing a creepy sound for a while now but you haven’t been paying attention.  Now totally startled by this creepy sound, you’re aware that you are “in a horror film” and then spend a decent amount of energy trying to convince yourself that horror movies aren’t real.  Once this is complete, you pick up a small, useless “weapon” and attempt to “calmly” determine the source of the noise.  Even if you see something totally terrifying, you will then be satisfied that EVERYTHING IS FINE.   Case in point: the time I saw a man in the woods staring at my mom’s house and convinced myself I imagined it.  Later, when I told my mom I imagined a man standing in the woods staring at her house, she said to me, “Oh no, that’s the guy that lives in the back woods.  He’s always coming up to make sure no one is clearing brush anywhere near his property line.”

!!!

Anyway, the raccoon wasn’t there.  Nothing pulled my head off.  But make no mistake: this is a horror film.

¹ Get it? CONSERVE-ative! HA!

Don’t Waste Your Energy on Dinner, Waste it on Dessert

Posted by on Apr 23, 2010 at 8:50 pm

So here’s a question:  how okay is prepared food?

DSC_4509

I ask this out of genuine curiosity, because I’m riding the fence.  Above we have your most basic of “prepared” foods, a tray of fresh, raw salmon topped with very basic, plebeian herb butter.  It’s not so much prepared as much as  prepped, if you know what I mean and I know that you do.  Costco packs the salmon in a plastic tray the fish can be baked in, which I balked at until I thought about washing a pan afterward.  What can I say, I’m a fair-weather health nut.

DSC_4510

But what if it’s something I’d normally be embarrassed to buy prepared, like potato salad?  My mom forbade me to make some from scratch (it’s a long story, but SHE’S THE BOSS OF ME) and suggested I pick some up.  Normally I deplore store-made potato salad.  The amount of times I’ve dished a spoonful of sugary, mayonnaise-gloopy potato pap into my mouth that someone called “potato salad” is numerous, and each time uniquely emotionally scarring.  It’s the same reaction to Miracle Whip: I blindly strike out anything near me in a fight-or-fight¹ response.

DSC_4505

For the first time in my life, I bought a store-made potato salad that is pretty damn good.  The Trader Joe’s salad ingredients were basically what’s in my own, and it smelled right too.  I’m sure the people in the store appreciated me pressing my nose up against the plastic container.  It’s on the dry side, oniony, and has large pieces of hard boiled egg and celery.  Per my stepdad’s specifications, I did add sweet pickles to it before my family ate it, but such a simple act triggered a round of awe between my mom and I — the perfect potato salad base to which you can add anything you’d like; bacon, basil, pickles, radishes, dill, peas, whatever floats your boat.  In the event I again find myself needing only three or four servings of potato salad, I’ll buy it in a flash.  The shame I’d felt over not being able allowed to boil and dress my own potatoes evaporated.  So this is how the lazy cooks do it.  Look at me I’m Sandra Lee!

DSC_4500

It also helped to eat a big serving of Galia melon on the side.  Prepared food at its easiest.

DSC_4488

I can’t let it rest, though, you know I can’t.  Besides, there was two pounds of rhubarb going bendy in the vegetable drawer.

DSC_4492

Notice my mom didn’t argue against me making a pie.

DSC_4522

She doesn’t even like rhubarb all that much.  But I do.

¹ Yes, I wrote that right.

1 Posted in Food Rant

Strange Love

Posted by on Apr 23, 2010 at 11:10 am

My love of fish knows no boundaries.

DSC_4483

I’m not kidding.  Well, I’m always kidding, but hopefully you know what I mean.  I love it in such a way that when I say aloud that I love it it comes out all guttural and exaggerated, I luuuuuuuuhhhv it.

Here’s a hint for what’s cookin’ tonight: it’s not this exact fish.

0 Posted in Obsessed

The Best Moisturizer in the World

Posted by on Apr 21, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Let’s get off to a new year of Anger Burger by talking about facial moisturizer, shall we?  See you tomorrow, everyone who cares about food and butt diseases.  Everyone else, sit down and listen up.

I have a terrible time with any product for my face.  Just about everything makes me break out.  I tried Aveda.  I tried  Proactiv and got chemical burns all over my face.  I’ve tried heaps of expensive, organic, homeopathic, foreign, space-age facial washes and after 10 years have finally just admitted that Cetaphil is the only thing that does the job.  Stupid, grandma-fragranced Cetaphil.  But it works!  It actually removes waterproof mascara and doesn’t give me Deadly Face Rot Syndrome.

The problem was then moisturizer.  Because while Cetaphil miraculously got my face clean without making me look like a leper, it also dried me out so badly I got face-dandruff.  True!  And gross.  But better than acne.  Coincidentally, my mother is going through having terribly dry skin for the first time in her life and tried some ridiculous hippy moisturizer that I would never in a million years have purchased.  And was basically compelled to call me within minutes and tell me: this is the best moisturizer in the world.

grateful-body

Sure, I said.  And especially when I saw it in the store: oh, for Christ’s sake.  I mean, it comes in what appears to be a toilet paper tube.  It looks like it’s going to smell like patchouli.  And it costs 40-fucking-dollars.  I refused to pay that much for something I didn’t have a chance to try first¹, and instead got a small amount from my mom to try.

And guess what?  It’s the best goddamn moisturizer in the world.

I’m not exaggerating at all: Grateful Body’s Normal Skin Moisturizer is the only moisturizer I’ve used for longer than three days in a row.  In fact, I’ve been using it for four straight months now, every day (sometimes twice a day!) and I have had like maybe literally one zit and I’m pretty sure that was because I ate pizza and a whole bar of Lindt Intense Mint chocolate in one day.  Grateful Body hasn’t given me anything and doesn’t know I’m writing about them, I assure you.  I’m telling you about this because I’m now terrified that the company will go out of business and stop making the stuff, so I need more people to buy from them.

And!  Mike the Viking tried it on his grumpy man-face, and had the exact same experience: used after shaving, his skin was smooth, even and happy whereas it is normally red and furious.  And it smells nice, sort of generically fresh.  Not like hippies.

Alright, I’ll stop now.

¹ I didn’t yet know that they offer a full money-back guarantee on their products — it doesn’t work for you, you send it back.

4 Posted in Totally Unrelated

Happy Birthday, Anger Burger

Posted by on Apr 18, 2010 at 3:42 pm

I’m just like Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles!  Except I forgot my own birthday!  And it’s not my birthday, it’s my website’s!

dsc_0455

That’s right, it’s been a full year of the Burger, and look at what I have to show for it: a bill for server space.   Still, it’s been a busy year: I had some wisdom teeth out, got a job, lost a job, went back to New Zealand (and got to take my favorite Viking with me this time),  and got this thing:

DSC_4294

The newest member of the Anger Burger family, Think Tank.  Also known as Tank, Thinker, Tankety Tank, Fatty, Bedbug, Laptop, Ragnarok, Sleepy McCuddlesly and Momo¹.

I was going to do a big 1st Birthday Bash and try to do some kind of giveaway that seems to be tradition or whatever, but I’m gonna tell you something: I’m lazy.  Really lazy.  So, instead, I say this: thanks for reading.  I get a gigantic kick reading your guys’ comments, and I hope to keep it rolling for another year.  And then another.  And maybe another.  But, one step at a time.

Cheers,

Sunday “Anger Burger” Williams

¹ Momo is my dad’s dog’s nickname, and we keep accidentally calling her Momo, too. But that’s okay.

8 Posted in Drama!

Bearing Gifts of Fungus

Posted by on Apr 16, 2010 at 10:41 pm

My mom’s neighbor works for a mushroom farm that doesn’t produce a single mushroom for eating.  You read that right.

DSC_4427

They all get dried and put into capsules and other fates that I find tremendously disappointing.  I know someone is manufacturing all those dried mushroom products, but I guess I never thought about the mushrooms having to be grown in order to get to that state.

DSC_4423

In other words, someone harvests these gorgeous things and then effectively ruins them.  Those are my words, not the company’s.  I’m certain the company would like me to please stop talking about them now, even anonymously.

DSC_4420

Luckily the neighbor occasionally remembers that people actually eat these things and sometimes brings my mom a “little box” of them.  Look at these things!  And oh, the smell.  Much of my childhood was spent skulking around in overcast evergreen forests that smell just like these shiitake – piney, clean and damp, like mountain air and afterschool time with no homework.

DSC_4421

I think the pressure with these kinds of windfalls is to make the most of it, something extravagant and impressive.  But I can tell you what I thought after just a look at this things: gravy.

DSC_4434

Sauteed down in a little butter, olive oil and soy sauce, when their water has evaporated off and they start to brown (the ones in the above photo aren’t ready yet), then some flour and milk added quickly becomes a stunning mushroom cream gravy that tastes like sweet fucking heaven.

DSC_4436

Velvety and almost offensively rich, I swear to Buddha.  And this is just whole milk!  It’s incredible to me to think that the ingredients of this dish is basically exactly the same as “country gravy” you get over your biscuits at Denny’s, but with mushrooms instead of sausage.  Really!  Well, and lacking the botulism and hair lice you’d get at Denny’s, too.  Sometimes less is more.

DSC_4441

Served with some rice and my mom’s fried chicken, I nearly lost consciousness.  It’s the kind of thing you can’t arrange to happen: free mushrooms cut just before eating, your mom’s fried chicken, a quiet evening. Believe me when I say that I recognize the beauty of this, even when it’s time for the second round of antacids.

5 Posted in Food Rant

Jobs I Have Known

Posted by on Apr 14, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Bored?  Me too.

1. Food Service Worker, Evergreen State College cafeteria during the summer English as a Foreign Second Language session – had to draw pictures to explain to Japanese students that “chicken fried steak” was not beef.

2. Easter Bunny, two week job at the mall, possibly worst of entire life – had to spray giant bunny head out with Lysol every day just before inserting my head into it because two other employees had the flu and wouldn’t stop coming into work.  I got sick anyway.  Boss was 40-something year old mother of seven working her first job ever, who treated everyone like shit.  Giant bunny head was so heavy that my shoulders were literally black with bruises.  I was too young to know that minimum wage wasn’t worth it.

3. Youth HIV Educator, trained to draw blood but wasn’t allowed to graduate when they found out I was 17 (I didn’t mean to keep it a secret, I thought they knew).  Taught kids in juvenile hall how to put condoms on.

4. Barista and Baker, small popular cafe.  Formative life experience.

5. Body Piercing Parlor Desk Girl, occasionally terrifying job (disliked co-worker was eventually fired for showing his penis to underage girls in piercing room) that was also a blast.  Brazilian boss was reliable entertainment.  Met my best friend.

6. Baker, started a bakery with my mom and dad.  Easily best job of my life.  I think about it often.

7. Tattoo Parlor Desk Girl, nothing but fun. Everything about this job was pretty much hilarious.

8. Food Service Worker, deli at high-end privately owned grocery store.  Second-worst job of life.  First interviewed to be bakery department manager, was hired and told I might have to do “other work” while they arranged for my position to open.  Put me in deli slicing meat for prissy rich assholes and then covertly gave bakery manager job to someone else for no given reason.  I gave two weeks notice, was later told by manager that he was surprised I “kept my word”.  I angrily asked him what evidence I had given that I was a dishonest person and he answered “Oh none, but no one has never stuck around after giving notice here before.” Was notably treated weirdly after I observed that the store’s only black employee was the one chosen to sample out the deli’s fried chicken to customers.

9. Barista, the usual shit.  Expected to perform like Waldorf-Astoria, treated like McDonalds.

10. Espresso trainer, where I realized I didn’t have what it takes to be a true coffee jock.

11. Travel Writer, for large newspaper.  Really, really high expectations for a job that ended up being like having dental surgery.

13. Book Seller, in between Hollywood and Beverly Hills.  90% hellish, 10% bizarre.  Met over two dozen major celebrities.  Well, maybe a dozen major and another dozen lesser.  Giver or take.

Notable failed job interviews:

1. Data Entry, for the State of Washington,  a coveted “state job”.  Was told in the first interview that the best part of the job was being able to wear sweatpants to work.  During second interview I was asked if I could take a typing test.  I readily consented; I type an average of 80 words per minute.  Then I was informed that I could both not see the keyboard (it was on a sliding keyboard shelf that was slid under the desk), but the computer monitor would be turned off as well.  A “double-blind” test, I was told.  I could also not use the backspace key.  I insisted that this was a joke, and the woman giving the test assured me they were serious.  My resulting test page was gibberish.  My fingers had been lined up one row over too far to the right.  I was later told by a friend who’d had the exact same job that she’d never heard of a “double-blind” typing test and she could barely type when she was hired.

2. Tattoo Desk Girl, at a prestigious Los Angeles tattoo parlor.  Was called back for three interviews.  Was 100% sure I had it in the bag — after all, I’d been a tattoo desk girl for over 5 years and could type over 80 words a minute.  Did not get job.

3. I know there’s more but I’m blanking now.

Fascinating, right?

7 Posted in Totally Unrelated

This Needs to Become a Fad In America, STAT

Posted by on Apr 13, 2010 at 8:48 am

I feel weird suggesting a food product I don’t even know the name of, but here it is: if you should ever come across “Coffee Jelly” at your Japanese market, you’re in for a treat.

DSC_4408

I don’t even remember the price, but it can’t have been much if I impulse shopped it (well, I use the term “I” sort of loosely: Mike was with me, and the only shopping Mike does is impulse shopping) (seriously, it’s like shopping with a poorly trained but well-meaning helper monkey, I feel compelled to praise him for the simple act of putting stuff in the cart, though most of the time neither of us knows what it is he’s just grabbed).  And it’s definitely Japanese.  Beyond that, we’re all on our own.

DSC_4412

The jelly itself is perfect.  It tastes only of sweetened, brewed coffee; not too strong, not too weak.  The texture is soft, almost like preserves (coffee preserves!  my eyes just bugged outta my head!).

DSC_4416

Of course, I had eaten the top half before I realized that I think the jelly is meant to be turned out onto a dish and served.  The container is quite rigid plastic (I don’t doubt that you could keep and them make more gelatin in them) with no marks on the interior, making a gorgeous little jelly you’d be happy to be served at a nice restaurant.  Still, it’s just a nice idea on its own: on a hot summer evening, after dinner, a little bit of sweet coffee jelly anyone?  Yes ma’am.

4 Posted in Food Rant