Anger Burger

The Peanut Butter Miracle

Posted by on Jun 29, 2010 at 1:33 pm

So, I stopped taking the mega doses of vitamin C out of laziness, and then I was hit with the worst allergy attack of my entire life.  I’m not saying they’re related, but… That was the chronological turn of events.  The last two weeks have been brutal, including a drive from Washington to California where I pulled over not once but three times in order to more effectively gag and choke on post-nasal cloggery.  In the last few days it progressed again, this time to full nasal swelling so bad that my Eustachian tubes have blocked entirely which FEELS AWESOME.  This is what the bathroom counter of someone without health insurance looks like:

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MVP: expired bottle of prescription Flonase I kept around just in case this exact event occurred!  Thanks, American health care!

However, this is not why I invited you here today.  I invited you here because I am currently super angry at this magazine:

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The subscription was a gift from Mike’s mom and I’d previously never really looked through Cuisine at Home.  I think I thought it was a little too Sandra Lee, if you know what I mean.  As often is the case with me, I was wrong.  It’s one of these magazines where — while the recipes are useful and seem solid — the real gold comes from ideas.  Like, just reminding you to cook certain things.  What I wasn’t expecting was for Mike to lose his mind over this recipe:

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He rarely gets on my case to make something other than Swedish meatballs or pie, but it’s almost like the editors of Cuisine at Home knew that Mike was on a pb&j bender lately, because I think the people in space could hear his PEANUT BUTTER CAAAAAAKE SAAANDWICHES! shriek.  Basically the idea is: make a peanut butter cake in a loaf form, slice it and serve it with peanut butter frosting and jam as the “filling” instead of as frosting.  Great!  Except I refuse to make their peanut butter frosting as it was just peanut-tinted sugar and butter.

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So I’m sitting there, making this recipe and thinking to myself, this will never work.  It seemed ill-fated from the start.  Part of the recipe advises to cream the peanut butter and sugars together until the sugar dissolves, which after 10 minutes still never happened.  And I thought to myself, why would the sugar dissolve?  It’s not liquid, it’s a fat, and it’s not warm.   It also recommended sugaring the pan instead of flouring it, which is like 14,000 sad faces waiting to happen.  I mean, that shit is gonna stick, dawg.

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And the batter was so runny!  I didn’t get a photo of it, but it was not what I expected at all.  I was drafting a message of condolence to Mike for what was undoubtedly going to be a lame-ass cake.

DSC_5361Yeah, unpanning that loaf was a goddamn mess.

It even baked in a half-hearted way, taking 10 minutes longer than called for and requiring a tent of foil over the top to keep the surface from burning.  And if you haven’t already guessed that the cake turned out to be FUCKING EXCELLENT then you’ve clearly never read Anger Burger before.

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No kidding, it was the best peanut-butter flavored baked good I’ve ever eaten.  The texture was incredible, moist and supple and sturdy all at the same time, easily among the best pound-cakes I’ve ever had. The crust was magical, like the best soft peanut butter cookie you’ve ever eaten, all chewy from the baked sugar.  Warm from the oven, the cake was impossible to keep from eating.  And the next day it was even better!  Mike and I ate the entire loaf in about 24 hours, which  while I am not a calorie-counter, still makes me cringe.  That was a cup of peanut butter.  And like, two cups of sugar.  Yeesh.  But this is the truth: I looked at the calendar to see when I could in good conscience bake this again (Friday the 2nd).  It was that good.

Peanut Butter Bread Cake
i’ve made a few adjustments to the recipe, the first of which was to cut the entire thing in half — because, honestly, WTF is up with making two of these loaves at once?  that’s a lot of goddamn cake.  other adjustments are primarily to the instructions, since they were lacking.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup creamy, all natural peanut butter (with no added palm oil)
2 oz (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature

butter and large-grain sugar for coating the pan

  • Heat oven to 350°.  Grease a large loaf pan (about 9×5) with butter and coat with sugar.  Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the flour, BS, BP and salt.  Set aside.
  • Add the vanilla to the milk.  Set aside.
  • Cream the peanut butter, butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium/high speed for at least five minutes.  It will never get pale and fluffy, it will remain dark and creamy.  The sugar itself will not “dissolve” but definitely get less granular.  When in doubt, go a little longer.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each.  Scrape down the bowl and make sure it’s all well-blended.
  • Alternate the flour and milk, ending with some flour and scraping the bowl down as you go.  The batter will be rather runny.  Pour into prepared loaf pan and sprinkle the top with more sugar.
  • Bake about 50 minutes, keeping a sharp eye on the cake.  If it is getting too brown around the edges, carefully and loosely tent a piece of tin foil over the top and return to oven.  Bake 10-20 minutes longer, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, and then turn out the cake onto a cooling rack over a surface that you don’t mind spraying sugar all over.

To prepare as Cuisine recommends, make dessert sandwiches with the cake.  Mike and I were both (he more so) surprised to discover we like the cake better just plain without any jam.  It would also make beautiful little teacakes if you have mini-loaf pans, and would make a totally adorable tea-party slice.  AND!  I toasted a piece on the second day and it was amazing, which makes me think of 100 more possibilities (peanut butter french toast ???!!), so maybe they were onto something with making two loaves after all.

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Sunday Had a Little Lamb

Posted by on Jun 25, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I write this knowing full well that most of my meat-eating friends and peers are terrified of actually cooking meat, and to them I say two things:

a) Cheer up, you’re not alone

b) GROW UP, it’s meat, it’s less difficult to cook than vegetables

I suspect the fear comes from the cost of it, a worry that I can commiserate with.  Nothing spells f-a-i-l-u-r-e like making yourself a gross dinner and having to pay a lot of money for it.  No one to blame but yourself!  That’s the worst.

But!  Good news for those huddled in meat-cooking terror: one of the easiest things to cook is also the most delicious.  Lamb!  Lamb.  I love lamb like most people love bacon.  Lamb is contradictorily clean and meaty-tasting, stews gorgeously and looks impressive.  Lamb chops, and in particular a Frenched¹ rack of lamb, for me ranks amongst the fanciest-looking meat in the world, and you can cook it in about 15 minutes with zero effort.  Truth!

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Perhaps most important is a pre-seasoning.  A quick rub of any strong flavor – here is garlic, lemon peel, lavender and salt – pressed into the meat and allowed to sit will improve the final product far beyond its humble origins.  Any mix will do, any herbs and aromatics.  If the product is too dry to stick to the meat, add a spoonful of olive oil.  Let it sit in the fridge for about two hours, and remove to come to room temperature one full hour before cooking.  DO THIS!  The coming to room temperature part, I mean.  If you don’t have three hours, just do the last one hour on the kitchen counter.

The other tremendous secret is pan-roasting.  I’m a huge proponent of what is basic culinary cooking school stuff: brown your meat in a pan, then put the whole thing into a hot oven to continue cooking.  This radiant, even heating makes the product better, but is just easier, too.  I think one of the biggest cooking philosophical pieces of advice I can give is to just  decide how you’re going to fail ahead of time.  This is just good life advice, actually.  Will you be happier with overcooked or undercooked meat?  Aim for that.  There’s a good chance it will be neither, and the perfection of it will astound you.

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The other secret is letting the meat sit.  I’ve read back and forth all kinds of crap on whether this has any scientific merit, and the answer is: maybe?  I don’t know.  But it’s helpful for getting your kitchen stuff all settled and ready for serving, and that works for me.  So it gets wrapped up in foil straight out of the oven and sits for five minutes.

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The result?  Perfectly cooked lamb.  This was 100% worth the splurge ($10 for two people) and I would and will do it again soon.  It was simple, took me maybe 5 minutes of active cooking time.  The potato salad I’d made earlier in the day and despite looking like it’s made from a pound of mayonnaise or whatever, it’s actually that I like to mix my potato salad into almost-mashed-potatoes.  This salad is just onions, lots of malt vinegar, a spoonful of mayo, two spoonfuls of sour cream, equal parts peas to potatoes and a big handful of chopped basil.

Simple Rack of Lamb, for Simple Folks
part of why I call this simple is: no breading or paste to smear and sear onto the rack, as is popular.  if you google “rack of lamb” you’ll get 100 recipes for a mustard-based breadcrumb mixture to press onto the exterior, and I just… I just don’t feel it.  a salty dry rub is plenty flavorful and less fussy.

dry rub:
1 T. salt
2 T. herbs (dry is okay too, since it’s getting rubbed back off again before cooking, but fresh tastes better)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T. olive oil

1 Frenched rack of lamb, cut into two pieces, rinsed and patted dry

  • Start by cutting the lamb into two or three big pieces of 3-4 ribs each.  This makes cooking easier and gives more of the coveted chewy end-pieces.  Rinse halfheartedly but dry earnestly with paper towels.
  • Mix together the dry rub and rub and pat all over the meat with your fingers.  Set on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.  One hour before cooking time, remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.  If you only have two hours total, do one in the fridge and one on the counter.  If you only have one hour, do one on the counter.
  • Preheat oven to 425°.  While you’re preheating, rub the rub back off the meat.  If you can, avoid actually rinsing the meat with water.  I like to take one or two very lightly dampened paper towels and vigorously rub the meat over the sink, knocking all the big chunks of herbs off.  The meat should be pretty dry when you’re done.
  • When the oven is hot, heat a oven-safe saute pan to medium-high heat.  Add 1 Tbs. olive oil and immediately place the ribs with the fattiest, meatiest side down into the hot oil.  Fry for about 3 minutes on that side and again on the other side, just to put a little color on the meat.  Placing the meat again with the meatiest, fattiest side down in the pan, put the whole pan into the hot oven and set your timer for 10 minutes.  If you want the meat more medium-cooked, add 5 minutes.  Fancy people check internal temperatures of meat for doneness and shit, but you’re not at that website.
  • If you think of it, you can turn the meat about 7 minutes into the cooking time.
  • When the timer goes off, immediately remove the pan from the oven and transfer the chops to a piece of foil and wrap tightly.  Set aside and wait 5 minutes.
  • Slice between each rib and serve.  Try not to worry that your Boston Terrier will be the first ever to force her own eyeballs out of her eye sockets with the pure focused effort of sitting nicely in the hopes she will get some of whatever the fuck it is you just cooked that smells like that.

¹ “Frenching” is just a way of preparing the meat, where the mostly inedible fat and sinew is pulled off the rib bones. You can do this yourself, but most of the time lamb ribs are already Frenched. It’s just cosmetic.

5 Posted in Make It So

My Dog is a Goddamn Hippie

Posted by on Jun 23, 2010 at 8:57 am

This dog. I swear. Never has there been such a perfectly sweet, perfectly perfect dog who occasionally bites people and almost always tries to kill other dogs. There’s no denying that Tank is an uncanny mix of Mike and I, a middle-aged, naptastic, food-loving, grouchy cuddlebear who’d just as soon destroy you as share her toys.

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When we first got her three months ago we went through a series of veterinary visits because something wasn’t quite right. I think the primary tip off was that she was pooing jelly¹. That might be a little too specific, and for that I am sorry. But not sorry enough to edit it.   After two rounds of antibiotics, anti-diarrhea meds, canine intestinal flora and some other garbage, she was still having a tough time of it – so tough that I mouthed off to an intimidating stranger².  In a rushed visit to the vet, we were offered the option of having a blood test to determine if Tank was allergic to certain foods, as all signs were pointing to yes.  We agreed (and at less than $200, I figured we were getting off easy) and found out a week later that Tank was allergic to everything we were feeding her.  ARGH!

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The hilarious news was that we’d been feeding her fancy low-allergen food that bragged a lack of corn and soy and rice fillers, so of course she’s not allergic to corn, soy or rice at all.  Within 12 hours she was on a pure lamb and rice diet and within 48 hours her entire digestive system changed.  It was fantastic!  All except one problem: even at a large alternative animal feed store, I could only find one brand of treats that didn’t have any of her main offenders: oats, wheat, potato or eggs.  And that brand was charging $10 for a 6oz. box.  Uh, no.

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So what’s a girl to do?  Bake her own damn dog treats, I guess.

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Action shot!  Also: you finally get to see my hunchback.

I found a gluten-free, vegan cheese cracker recipe for humans and since Tank isn’t allergic to cow’s milk (again: totally opposite dog) I replaced the soy cheddar with regular stuff.  I tweaked and fudged until I had something that rolled out, and guess what?  Totally delicious little treats, and totally safe for her.  The only problem is that they are greasy from all the cheese and olive oil, so I can’t just slip them in my pocket like her old poison treats.  Thus, the quest for the perfect treat continues.  In the meantime, she’s staring at her cookie jar waiting for one of us to hand her another one of these.

Gluten-Free Cheddar Bites for Nerdy Dogs
of course these are totally tasty for humans too.  in fact, as I baked them Mike stood in the kitchen and snacked on them.  they taste like cheese nips and have a satisfyingly soft crunch.  also note: there’s some argument as to whether dogs can eat garlic.  they should never eat raw garlic (or onions), but everyone seems to agree that using small quantities of garlic powder is safe.

1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 tsp. baking soda
6 T. olive oil
1/4 – 1/3 cups milk (I used rice)
4oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/8th tsp. garlic powder

  • Dump everything into a mixer or a food processor.  If you use a stand mixer, it will need to run for at least 5 minutes to pound and mash the cheese down until you almost can’t see any pieces any more.  In a food processor, this will take a few very long pulses.  You’ll have to keep an eye on it.  The goal is to get the dough to stick together but not be so wet that it’s hard to roll and cut out.  Start with 1/4 cup of milk and add spoonfuls more until you reach this consistency.  It will be tender and break apart easily in your hands, but will also wad easily into a ball.  It’s hard to describe.
  • Wrap the ball up in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.  Now would be a good time to preheat your oven to 350°.
  • Sprinkle a work surface with a little rice flour.  Roll out the dough, rubbing small quantities of the rice flour into the surface as you go just to ease the rolling pin over the surface.  The dough is oily so it won’t really stick to stuff, but it’s also very tender and delicate, so when it does, it messes up rather spectacularly.  Don’t worry too much abut any of this: it’s a dog treat.  Just get it rolled out.
  • Cut into appropriate size pieces.  Don’t get cute with cookie cutters, you’ll tire yourself out.  Transfer to baking sheet.
  • Bake approximately 15 minutes, or until pieces are clearly browned and fragrant.  Allow to cool slowly on their hot baking sheets in order to dry out a little more.

¹ Not magical delicious jelly, like strawberry rhubarb or sour cherry. She’s not a golden goose.
² Tank was having a terrible morning.  Her intestines sounded like a water cooler burbling, I swear to Haysoos.  It woke me up!  I took her outside in a rush thinking that she was building up to some explosive decompression, but on a grassy street corner near our house she squatted and nothing came out.  It was awful to watch, she was clearly in such discomfort that I sat on the curb and talked lovingly to her while she squatted and walked and squatted and walked.  I checked the time: 25 minutes until the veterinary clinic opened.  As I sat there a large, sketchy dude approached and said loudly and with great joviality, “HE TRYIN‘ TA SHIT!”  I gave the dude a cursory nod and said sadly “Yeah, she’s sick.”  The guy acted like he didn’t hear me and continued “HA!  THAT DOG DON’T KNOW WHATTA DO!  HE TRYIN’ TA SHIT!”  More forcefully, I said “She’s sick.”  He walked closer and maneuvered around so he could leer more clearly at her rear end, which alone infuriated me.  Of course then he says “HE SOME STUPID DOG!  DON’T KNOW WHATTA DO!”  to which I unthinkingly snapped back “SHE’S SICK AND I DON’T NEED A FUCKING SPECTATOR WATCHING MY DOG SHIT.”  Of course dude gets real creepy and says to me in a lower voice “You better watch your mouth, girl.  Call me a motherfucking spectator.  You watch your mouth, or I’ll watch it for you.”  So basically: I picked up my dog and ran.  True story!

12 Posted in Make It So

Bakery Nouveau (aka Fat and Happy), West Seattle

Posted by on Jun 22, 2010 at 11:01 am

This is a little convoluted, so bear with me:  a few weeks back I was reading the NY Times when I was startled to read a review of a friend of a friend’s ice cream shop in Seattle that I’ve visited countless times.  I ignored the rest of the businesses in the article and then forgot about it.  Then!  Last week my friend Junko asked, have you ever been to Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle?  I said nope.  They were featured in the NY Times, she says, and the little buzzing, dying light bulb that is my memory was flipped on, if briefly.  It didn’t matter.  All I heard were the words “bakery” and “go” and I had my shoes on.

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The interior of the shop is mostly functional and curiously dark, a combination that appeals to me.  Though a bright morning, taking photos of the pastry case was a little like coming across fairy lights in the dead of a winter night.  Oooh, pretty.

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I adore the purely functional serving trays lined with natural parchment.  It’s not fussy, but it feels right.  It’s a thing I have, probably from working at too many cafes: I hate paper doilies and I really hate those shiny, cheaply stamped out serving trays from Cash & Carry.

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Can you believe I didn’t buy a single fancy pastry?  What the fuck is wrong with me?  Somehow I rationalized that it was breakfast and that the items wouldn’t survive transport back to Olympia.  I’m retarded.

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I was also immaturely saddened that they didn’t have piles of pastries in their front window.  I had a memory of Florence, Italy, where stacks of premade sandwiches sat on tables outside small bakeries, and if you wanted one you just picked it up and went inside to pay.  By midday the cheese and meats were sweating, but people still bought them.  Why?  Because there’s nothing wrong with them.  Cheese and salami can sit out for hours and be okay.  Americans are prudes.  There was something so provincial and compelling about those sandwiches, and despite being universally disappointing (dry!) I kept buying them.  Likewise, I wanted pastries from the front windows of Nouveau, despite my rational mind telling me: Sunday, those pastries would have been stale.  Shut up, me!

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Back and Junko’s apartment, we split everything.  The star of the show was the ham and cheese croissant, that large dark square thing on the right.  I had not realized how accustomed to the same ham and Gruyere croissant I’d become until I bit into Nouveau’s; several cheeses (two? more?) neither of them distinctly identifiable and yet delicious all the same.  It tasted very nearly like a fancified version of my grandmother’s cheddar pimento cheese spread, which I mean in the most complimentary way possible.

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Bakery Nouveau is apparently well-known for their “twice baked almond croissant,” which I learned only after I sampled it.  I found it to be a merely pleasant variation of the almond croissant spectrum, but not mind-blowing.  The almond filling was not evenly applied, so the ends were plain croissant.  I can’t really complain: that plain croissant was delicious.  I just don’t think it beats my favorite almond croissant from the Bread Peddler in Olympia¹.

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And then we have the jewel of the show, America’s new cupcake: the macaron.  Now, I’ve never been to France, so take whatever I say with an entire salt lick, but my understanding of the macaron is that it should be delicate, soft, and a little chewy.  The flavors should be identifiable but light.  The macarons I’ve developed a taste for inhabit the chewier end of the spectrum, and are sweet but not deadly.  Nouveau’s were all over the place on this scale: neither flavor I tried were chewy, and were in fact so soft that they dissolved in the mouth rather than enduring mastication.  So, not terribly appealing to me.  Though c’mon: almond-based sugar confection?  Still pretty rad.  The passionfruit (above) was definitely passionfruit flavored, though one of my greatest expectations for passionfruit is tartness.  Surely the filling would be tart?  Nope.   The other flavor I ordered was salted caramel, which in the flavor department failed entirely.  If you didn’t know what flavor it was supposed to be, you’d never guess.  Neither salty  nor particularly burnt-sugary, the macaron lacked any notable flavor but sweetness, which was cloying. Still, again: ALMOND SUGAR. Stop complaining.

And if that wasn’t a good breakfast, I don’t know what is.

¹ Which my dad totally dislikes, by the way. And to be fair: they are inconsistent. And their staff is hilariously detached and rude. But when their almond croissants are good, they are good.

3 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

If You’re Gonna Fry Something, Might as Well Fry Everything

Posted by on Jun 21, 2010 at 4:22 pm

I hope you don’t mind, but I’m just going to load you up with photos today.  Think of it as inspiration for what you can do with a pot of boiling oil other than submerging BP executives in it.

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The tofu goes into some miso soup, the eggplant, okra and Okinawan sweet potatoes (beni imo) go straight into the oil, no batter or breading.  That such a thing was even conceivable was news to me.

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Kelp and little dried fishes that made for flavorful miso stock.

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Eggplants.  Dry them carefully first or they’ll spit!

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Okra fried whole!

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This was raw daikon radish and carrot finely julienned and then topped with simple sesame dressing.

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Incredible: karaage, or Japanese fried chicken.  I’ll write about it later, but here’s basically what I’ll tell you.

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And those fried veggies again, though after they’ve been deep fried naked and then left to their own devices in room temperature dashi broth, which made the veggies soft and flavorful, but still fresh and not at all deep-fried tasting.

So there you have it.  The entire above menu was crafted by my friend Junko Yamamoto, who happens to be a renowned artist as well.  Here’s the part of the evening where I was a big ol’ whitey:

me: “What do you call okra in Japanese?”

Junko: “Okura.”

me: “Oh.”

5 Posted in Food Rant

What Can I Say, I’m Difficult

Posted by on Jun 14, 2010 at 9:24 pm

I’m opposed to BBQing in a very distant way, as I’ve mentioned here before — last summer I think.  I find it to be messy and hot and the only time I want my hair to smell like campfire is when I’ve actually been around a campfire.  And yet, each time I am brought over to my friend Sol’s house and plates of beautifully roasted foods appear before me as if by magic I think, You win this time, BBQ.  This time.

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Most vegetables can be improved almost immeasurably by a simple coat of good olive oil, salt, and a short time over very high heat.  Mushrooms are no exception, and stay juicy to the point of sloppiness.

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Certain Viking affiliates of Anger Burger were quite pleased at the proximity huge steaks of meat.  As Vikings tend to be.

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The Pacific Northwest is pretty predictable when it comes to greenery.  If you stand still for longer than a minute it’ll be coming our your ass.  True!  I had a friend who moved to Olympia from Colorado and a few months into his stay he noticed a rash on his chest.  He went to the doctor and she informed him he had a fungus.  Incredulous, he asked, “I’m growing moss?!” and she said, “Well, did you move here from an arid environment?”  In other words: YES.  YOU ARE GROWING MOSS.

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What makes steak better?  Butter.  But you already knew that.

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Jesus, these onions.  I ate at least an entire onion to myself.  Everyone gobbled down the asparagus, but those onions slow-roasted to soft, almost creamy sweetness were killing me.  I declared: ROASTED ONIONS WITH EVERY MEAL!  I’ve already failed that promise twice today.

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The baby refused to eat corn on command.  You know how it is.  Babies.

2 Posted in Food Rant

Road Trip!

Posted by on Jun 11, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Sorry, but I forgot to take photos of the Carl’s Jr chicken sandwich and the Sausage McGriddle I ate while Mike, Tank and I rocketed up I-5 in an underpowered economy car for days.  Wait, I’m not sorry.

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The dog was basically stoned the whole way, I have no idea why.  We didn’t drug her.  That’s 100% all-natural weird dog.

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Also: I kind of love motels, even with my fear of bed bugs.  I guess because I’ve also rationalized eating fast food and watching stupid television shows on the room’s TV.  And I’ve just spent the day speculating as to the genetic deficits of other drivers, so I’m kind of ready to hibernate and allow the bell curve to take over.  Did you know there is a reality show about mall cops?  It’s like bed bugs for the mind.

3 Posted in Totally Unrelated

What a Wonderful World

Posted by on Jun 6, 2010 at 8:12 am

It’s a story for another time, but I’d been postponing trying one of the most talked-about hamburgers in Los Angeles for over a year, mostly because I abhor a fancified burger.  I believe they should be sloppy, fast and evil and there’s no way a $10 burger can achieve that.  So the short version is: I was totally wrong.  Our meal was spectacular and worth every penny, but on the way out the door I spied something that jogged a long-submerged memory: Cake Monkey.

Two years ago my mom read an article about an L.A. bakery with an exceptional product, and after some searching I discovered the disappointment I imagine everyone does: they don’t have a storefront.  You are at the mercy of a few local restaurants to get what limited treats you can, a development I didn’t like at all.  And so I forgot about it.

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Until just this moment.  I know I’ve read about these since then, Cake Monkey’s cheeky riff on the Ding Dong, their cakewich.  I was mesmerized and despite a distended abdomen heavy with beef and fryer grease (I thought you’d like that visual) I lurched for the wrapped foil like a zombie for a brain.  I handed over the $3.50 with panicked hands.

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My specimen was a little worse for the wear, but it was a warm day and this is what we should expect from a product not sold from it’s place-of-origin.  Still, it was satisfyingly solid and fully enrobed in chocolate, which I guess surprised me a little.  I thought at least the bottom would be bare cake.

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Wait, what’s this?  I hesitate.  First, the most obvious point: what a gorgeous thing.  The chocolate coating is pristine, perfectly even all the way around and not too thick.  I’m truly impressed.  But there’s a second issue here, and that is peanut butter.  This is not a Ding Dong.  Peanut butter?  I looked carefully at the top sticker for an explanation but could find nothing.  Peanut butter?  Ah yes, wait, on a small ingredient sticker on the bottom: peanuts.  And yellow cake?   I hopped over to their website and confirmed it: “Peanut Butter and Marshmallow Cakewich”, not the “Black and White Cakewich” of my expectations.  I admit I’m a little disappointed – despite all my nut butter ramblings the past few days here at Anger Burger, I’m not a huge fan of peanut butter baked goods.  I like just peanut butter, not peanut butter frosting.  Still, the cakewich is such a looker and it smells pretty good…

I should not be surprised, but the flavor and texture is amazing.  The cake is as I would hope for being totally sealed in chocolate: soft and moist with a pleasingly mild flavor.  The peanut butter buttercream is peanutty without being cloying and the marshmallow is lovely but sadly takes a backseat.  More would have been appreciated, though I’m not sure the physics of the cakes’ construction would have allowed for it.  And the chocolate!  Again, I marvel at what a perfectly applied perfect quantity it is.  All of a sudden I understand how to write like Stephanie Meyer.

While I’m still a little alarmed at the surprise peanut butter (What if I’d had an allergy and just bit into it?  Sure there was an ingredient list on the bottom, but the wait staff at the burger joint just called it a “Gourmet Ding Dong”)  (Okay, agreed: hopefully if I really had a peanut allergy I’d be smart enough to check the damn labels at first, but I think we can all agree I’m lucky to not have said allergy.)  I am more incensed over the issue that these ladies still don’t have a storefront.  Their online menu has me ripping my hair out.  What do we have to do to get our Passion Fruit Brown Butter Bars, Cake Monkey Moguls and Apple Crumble Cakes without minimum orders?  YOU’RE KILLING ME.

5 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

I Think About Stuff That Isn’t Food

Posted by on Jun 5, 2010 at 8:01 am

Presented to you as a series of bullet points.

  • This is maybe the worst book I’ve tried to read in recent years:

    the_strain

    I cannot believe what a poorly written, poorly conceived book this was.  I guess I thought I expected better from Del Toro, and I don’t know Chuck Hogan from a hole in the ground, but now I am going to avoid both like the plague this book wishes it portrayed.  Ostensibly: vampirism takes over Manhattan.  Entertaining, right?   No.  It would take too long to explain why it was so bad, but rest assured that every single literary mistake was made: angelic Protagonists, cartoonishly evil Antagonists, every single character has way too much psychic instinct, diseases/parasites that don’t follow rules of biology or evolution, vampires that are basically zombies, kids that are mature beyond their years, “geniuses” that are morons, I COULD GO ON FOREVER.  And it’s going to be a trilogy!  God have mercy.

  • In the past six months, the following things have totally broken and then were replaced by the manufacturers: a Sigg bottle (the paint started to peel off), a whole mail-ordered case of compostable dog poo bags (unsealed on one of the three sides), my purse (made by a not-cheap indy bag-maker), and an expensive water filter.  I started to think I was cursed, but then I realized each thing had been replaced promptly, and without personal cost.  This truly is a great era of consumerism.
  • I was watching Wrath of Khan while puttering around the house and thought this would be the time that Spock dying didn’t make me cry, but no.  I cried.
  • Speaking of Leonard Nemoy, my previous hate for the show Fringe has mutated into grudging enjoyment. It took them two seasons, but I feel like the writers were finally allowed to quit trying to be The X-Files. I still don’t feel anything for any of the characters, but the plot has started doing some impressive backflips.
  • After years of pay-as-you-go phone use, Mike invested in a fancy unlocked phone and signed up with Simple Mobile, a flat-rate mobile plan company with very competitive rates and no contracts.  You buy a sim card from them ($13) and install it in your (unlocked) phone and then complete some basic activation steps¹.  Even with buying an expensive phone, we did the math and determined that after two years of use, Mike will have saved about $600 just from not paying T-Mobile’s monthly data plan (more if he was using Verizon or AT&T).  It’s only been a few weeks, but so far I’m already planning on ditching my T-Mobile account when in expires in a few months.  Fuck that noise.  T-Mobile couldn’t even figure out how to activate  international calling on my phone when I left the country and ended up breaking my account on their end so badly that a supervisor had to reboot their system.  True story!
  • For some time now I’ve been a reader of Dr. Kate Davies’ blog  Needled (I don’t know why I never put it in my links, an oversight that has been corrected).  She’s a knitting intellectual, rhapsodizing on the histories of textiles and yarns while whipping out incredible patterns in such a fashion that makes it all look so damn easy.  Perhaps more interesting to me, she and her husband take epic hikes around the Scottish countryside, all the while dressing in the most outstanding wool ensembles and pretty much living a lifestyle I’ve always fantasized about.  In February of this year, Kate had a stroke that left her unable to walk and move her left arm, a shocking unfairness on such a profound level that it took my breath away; Kate is young and physically fit, a master craftswoman and a happy internet presence.  In the months since her stroke she’s documented her struggle to regain the use of her body and while I hate having feelings (particularly those about the grace and beauty of the human condition), I can’t stop reading.  She’s made me cry more than once, and for that I’ll never forgive her.

¹ Well, maybe not “basic” exactly – telling the phone to find the Simple Mobile 3G network was a little bit of a pain that took Mike and a customer service rep about a half an hour to slog through. We all agreed that written email instructions would have been easier than someone verbally telling someone a super-confusing long-ass URL to type into their phone, so maybe Simple Mobile will do that in the future.

7 Posted in Totally Unrelated

Oh Yeah, and a Surprise

Posted by on Jun 4, 2010 at 8:08 am

I forgot to tell you what your sink would look like after making the fake Nutella:

DSC_5011

Sorry.  Also, those skins stained my sink and I had to bleach it.  So, have fun!

And then, something amazing happened.  My government-appointed Viking Mike had to go to a dinner meeting at Loteria in Hollywood, and brought me back this:

DSC_5020

It’s not on the menu so I’m not certain what they call it, but it’s two layers of a very soft, not-very-sweet cake around a middle layer of FLAN.  I need to make sure you understand this: THE WHOLE MIDDLE THIRD IS A SOLID LAYER OF FLAN.    And!  A bunch of buttery dulce de leche frosting, I think, and I hesitate on that one because while it was definitely caramel flavored, like the rest of the cake it wasn’t terribly sweet.  Which is a fantastic thing — the cake wasn’t cloying or rich, which is hard to believe.  Still, I could only eat about a third before I felt I was pushing it, it was a huge slice.

FLAN IN THE MIDDLE.

This changes things.   This changes everything.

3 Posted in Food Rant