Anger Burger

Clusterfeed

Posted by on Jul 31, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Turns out gyoza skins are pretty easy to make, which makes it hard to trust me after I said “One thing I will likely never do is make homemade wrappers.  Fuck that.”  I guess that teaches you.

Staying at my friends Sean and Junko’s house makes for a lot of that kind of epiphany.  Like salad with breakfast:

Makes more sense than I would have admitted to ten minutes earlier.

Miso is always good.  Don’t screw with me on this, I’m correct.

Same with fish for breakfast.  Even sanma, which has a million tiny bones in it and large patches of nearly black tissue that taste like old stomach bile when you accidentally carelessly eat them.

Tabo wants you to shut the fuck up and give him the sanma.  But you won’t, because he’s the cat that tries to break into the room you’re sleeping in by pounding on the door and screaming at the top of his lungs at 3am like a drunk ex-boyfriend.

Today my dad took me to udon.  We had low blood sugar and snapped at each other about whether or not it was prudent to buy new video games before you’re finished with the ones you are already playing.  For the record, I do think it is prudent.  Also: my dad is handsome.

Here’s my udon.  And my boobs, though I doubt very much my dad cares about that part.  Though!  An hour previously at the farmer’s market when I was paying for fruit, a man at the stand asked him “Can I help you sir?” and my dad gestured at me and said “I’m with her.”  The seller said “Then you’re a lucky man!” and my dad called back “Uh, that’s my daughter.”  I think it’s because we wore coordinating outfits:

That, or my dad regularly takes his hookers to the farmer’s market.

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12 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

Like Yin and Yang, but With More Swearing

Posted by on Jul 29, 2010 at 7:54 am

What if I told you I thought I found my male internet doppelganger?

I wonder which one of us should be more offended.

7 Posted in Obsessed

La Tarasca, if You’re Able

Posted by on Jul 28, 2010 at 6:44 pm

In the event that you are driving along Interstate 5 on the western coast of the United States of America between the cities of Portland, Oregon and Olympia, Washington, you are in for a treat

While the city of Centralia might lay claim to such delights as the Gymboree Outlet Store, I assure you that there is only one reason to visit this fair burg: La Tarasca.  Home to, frankly, some of the best Mexican food I’ve eaten in my entire life, and I’ve spent prodigious eating time in both Los Angeles and Houston.

There’s not even a lot to say about it.  Everything is homemade, even the pickled carrot appetizers.

They are famous for their carnitas, pork slow roasted with such finesse that it can be mashed to a moist pulp if you touch it too firmly with your fingertips.

I personally think the chile rellenos are the most transcendent item on the menu, a simple affair (like everything they serve, really) of fresh pasilla pepper, some cheese, a thin egg batter and a meeting with a hot griddle rather than a deep fryer.  It appears so plain, but like any good fairy tale there are layers upon layers of hidden meaning.  The lardy refried beans alone are worth the drive from wherever you are.

I snorted when I read Yelp reviews of La Tarasca that complained a lack of flour tortillas.  Let me tell you something: when there is an old Mexican woman with her hair in a bun in the kitchen hand patting out rounds of white corn masa and then slapping them on a smoking griddle to be then whisked to your table in hallow stacks of three?  Shut the fuck up about flour tortillas.

¹ Unless it’s a Tuesday, in which case you’re screwed.

6 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

The Secret Life of Meatloaf

Posted by on Jul 25, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Lemme tell you about meatloaf.  First of all, if you’re vegetarian, Anger Burger contributor Aaron makes a fierce Quorn meatloaf and spared the time to explain it to you.  Secondly, I have the same rule for meatloaf as I do for most Americana foods: I know there are a bazillion ways to make it, and each of them are right.  I’m not telling you your business.  That being said, there are few things I dislike more than unseasoned, plain meatloaf.  Let’s not kid ourselves: it’s just a giant hamburger patty.  But there are things to be done to elevate it, and as one of Mike’s Top 5 Foods Ever, I think I run a pretty tight little meatloaf ship.

1) MORE THAN ONE SPECIES OF MEAT
I’ve made a mix I refer to as “Beast of the Field”:

3lb. high quality grass-fed ground beef
1lb. ground, unseasoned pork
1lb. ground lamb

The proportions are so large because America has a retarded habit of only selling ground meets in set amounts, so that beef is usually 1.5 pounds a pack, but pork and lamb are both always exactly 1lb.  Because I want about more beef than other meat in the mix, this is what I get.  Everything gets loosely mixed together in a large bowl, half is wrapped in plastic and foil and frozen, and the other half makes two loaves.  From there, one loaf is eaten in a few days and the other prepared, cooked loaf is frozen and then later thawed for sandwiches.

But this is all somewhat beside the point. The mix exists because beef tends to be bland and lean and rather than go through the pain of grinding better cuts myself, I’ve found that subbing in the different flavors and textures of other meats makes for a flavorful, interesting and well-textured final product.

2)  SEASON IT TO WITHIN AN INCH OF ITS LIFE
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve taken a bite of meatloaf and thought, yeah, that’s a wad of meat.  Don’t get me wrong — if you’ve made a loaf of freshly ground Kobe beef, I don’t want anything but a pinch of salt on that mother.  But this is meatloaf.  It’s working class food.  It’s meant to be eaten with mashed potatoes and peas on the side and a frosty glass of Coca-Cola to wash it down with, which means you had better put enough salt, onion powder (more on that later) and Worcestershire sauce in it to make itself known.

3) USE PLENTY OF FILLER
I’m sure it seems counter-intuitive since fillers are always bad, but in the case of meatloaf, it’s a large part of what keeps it from being a mere lump of meat.  Bread filler makes for a softer loaf in addition to:

4) MIX GENTLY
The more you rough the meat up, the more you encourage the protein bonds to stick back together, which you don’t really want.  For a light, soft meatloaf, quickly mix by hand with claw-scrunching motions until just barely incorporated.  Same goes for forming the loaves: quick shaping, don’t fuss over it.  Get it straight in the oven.

Make the loaf flatter than you want the cooked one to be — see below to see how much they change shape

5) MAKE A SMALLER LOAF
I do feel like this should be obvious. I see too many recipes that call for baking an entire 2 lb. wad of beef in a hot oven for an hour, a method that guarantees a dry, crusty slice of meat, particularly since most meatloaves are made with beef far too lean to be baking until fully cooked through.  While my mix is probably fatty enough to endure this, we find that forming two smaller loaves makes for more of the coveted end pieces (MINE!) and a faster cooking time.  It also allows more of the fat to cook off, getting the meat to almost braise itself.  It really is a minor miracle.

And arguably of more importance: meatloaf sandwiches.  Mike has made it clear that this is truly why he wants me to make the loaf, and I don’t mind that at all.  On a slice of bread with a little bit of mayonnaise and a smear of HP Sauce, boy-o what a treat.

And that’s it!  Metaloaf.  <–THAT’S A HELL OF A TYPO!  Holy shit!

Basic Beast of the Fields Loaf, aka Metaloaf
as I mentioned, it seems to be easier to make double the batch of raw meat, freeze half, then continue on with the recipe.

1 1/2 lbs. grain-fed ground beef
1/2 lb. unseasoned ground pork
1/2 lb. ground lamb
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fine, unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tsp. dried onion granules (or: 1/2 fresh onion, grated fine)
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste

  • Heat the oven to 350°.  Have at hand a 9×13 casserole dish or foil-covered baking sheet with a rim.  The foil just makes clean-up easier.
  • In a bowl, mix everything together at once, quickly and with your hands.  Don’t overwork it.
  • Split the mix in half and form from each a small loaf shape.
  • Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the exterior is browned and sizzling and the interior is cooked all the way through.  Serve immediately.

I’ll tell you about those peas later.

Oddly, the slices in my photo look somewhat dry, but I assure you they weren’t.  They were soft and flavorful and moist enough to pick up small pieces by merely pressing the fork against them.  Mike went back for “Just another little slice” and ended up clutching his swollen belly and looking sort of smugly uncomfortable for an hour after dinner.  Success.

4 Posted in Make It So

Put Your Money Where My Mouth Is

Posted by on Jul 25, 2010 at 12:35 am

Turns out I only had one year’s worth of material for you.  I’m kidding!   But I am revisiting the Santa Monica Blvd. Astro Burger because, well, it’s a great burger and I feel more than one ode is due.  But before that, an anecdote.  More like half an anecdote.

So, Mike was telling a co-worker of his about Anger Burger (hi Jason!) who then asked in all seriousness and with piqued interest: “Are there recipes for burgers?”  And I realized:  nope.  Ha!  There are recipes for anger, though, so there’s that.

Anyway, I don’t want to get into the “best burger” thing.  Again.  I know I said Astro was the best in L.A., and at the time that was true.  My burger haunts are like my ex-boyfriends — I did love you.  At the time.  Anyway,  Astro Burger burgers are flame-grilled, classic thin patties that gain a bit of crispiness during their cooking.  However, each time I go I notice many of the burgers going out the door are Gardenburgers.  You read that right.  As in, Gardenburger-brand Gardenburgers.  On whole-grain buns.   Uh.

I lost my mind and ordered one. To be on the safe side I ordered it with avocado and cheese.

And behold!  And excellent motherfucking vegetarian burger!  I had to take a deep breath halfway through and tell myself to slow down.  The cheese and Thousand Island burger sauce had literally melded with the top of the Garden patty itself, which alone was driving me into a eating-berserker-rage.  Combined that with Astro Burger’s reliably giant portion of perfectly ripe avocado and Holy Batman, Mother of Ramen that was a fine, fine item.

I have no idea why we’ve never thought of posing like this before.  And by “we” I mean me, because I still didn’t think of it,  Mike did.

Perhaps the best part?  That I left the house to get a burger without realizing that Mike and I both were wearing our Anger Burger shirts.   The evidence  is in Mike’s glasses.

6 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

Nothin’ Much

Posted by on Jul 22, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Mike made himself dinner!  I came to investigate when I heard it get quiet in the kitchen:

Well, okay.  Quesadilla with a side of cheese and salami.  Why not?

Yesterday I was at the grocery store looking at cantaloupes (88¢ each!) when I heard through a very thick accent:

lady: “You’re throweeng avay money!”

me: “I’m sorry?”

lady (conspiratorially): “I bought two of sose yesterday and I throw them avay!  Can’t eat sem they are so bad.”

me: “Oh, thank you for telling me.”

lady: “Throweeng avay money!”

me: “Yes, I am taking your advice.  I won’t get one.”

lady: “You’d think sese people vould know how to grow a cantaloupe!”

me: “Um…”

So there you have it.  I’m not 100% sure who “these people” are but I have a good guess.  And then I debated for a long time on buying one anyway, just to karmically negate what she’d said.  But I couldn’t do it.  Her weird cantaloupe curse spooked me.  I bought mangoes instead.

10 Posted in Food Rant

Please Stop

Posted by on Jul 21, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Oh, give me a MI-DEL graham cracker and I’ll be a happy lady.   They’re brutal!  Even calling them “honey” grahams is misleading – they’re barely sweet and excellent with savory toppings; a bit of triple-cream brie and a piece of salmon?  Ugh, stop.  But I’d never try to pass off a s’more made with a MI-DEL graham.  It’d be worse than going to that birthday party where someone sweetened the cake with beet juice, you know, it’s fine while you’re there but when you get home you have to make a sandwich out of brown sugar Pop Tarts, Betty Crocker cream cheese frosting and thinly sliced gummy bears.  You know, to get your blood sugar back up to a workable level.

Anyway, I love the MI-DEL a lot, but they’re a little pricey (I’ve never found them for less than $4 and often as much as $6 a box) and wouldn’t turn down the idea of a cheap alternative.  I don’t know why I do this.  Both Mike and my mom have the same response, which is to roll their eyes at me.  Is it worth saving $2 to bust your nuts finding a MI-DEL analog?  No?  Then stop it and shell out the money.  Still, when I saw a box of grahams at Trader Joe’s I bought it without really thinking about it.  It wasn’t until I got home that I became uncomfortably aware that the label design was a little too Laurel Burch¹.  OMINOUS MUSIC.

I knew from the moment I picked one up that I was going to be angry.  And sad.  And then angry again.   Never in my life have I seen such an airy, smooth, crispy graham cracker.  This is the bottom, sure, but it was wrong.  I could tell.  One bite confirmed: this is a cookie. A super-sweet, mostly characterless and brittle cookie.  No.  Stop.

Also!  A Trader Joe’s follow-up to this fairly popular rant of mine regarding the solicitors outside: I wrote a somewhat less pissy and more straightforward version that was actually sent to TJ’s proper, and received word back from them.   Here’s part of it:

“At this location the solicitors are on public property.  At this time there are no laws or avenues for us to work with the local government to eliminate these folks.  We are simply unable to make any changes.  We diligently work to keep them off our property and this is a daily battle.   At this location we have security guards present in the lot to help with this matter. Please accept our apology.  We too wish they would not be there and are thankful that you continue to shop with us.  If ever an opportunity arises for us to change the circumstances we will surely jump on it.”

I like the phrase “eliminate these folks”.  Friendly, but terrifying.  I call beef on their claim of “security guards”, though — there are men dressed curiously like forest rangers who walk around the entrance, but I’ve never even heard them speak let alone confront the solicitors.  Anyway, this is 100% true: two days later as I walked into TJ’s the sidewalk is now painted in bright red-and-white: “DO NOT BLOCK THIS AREA”.  The entire sidewalk!  It’s hilarious.  Even more hilarious was the pissy Doctors Without Borders solicitor standing directly on it who snarled at me “Do you ever wonder what it would be like to not be able to see a doctor, not even for a broken arm?”

The following conversation is truly as close to the original as I can recall:

me: “Fuck you.”

And, scene.  This is why I’m not allowed out of the house.

¹ You should know that two of my favorite pairs of earrings are early Laurel Burch pieces, before the 80′s when she realized that making rainbow psychedelic cat jewelry for elementary school teachers and pediatric nurses would make her a rich woman.

6 Posted in Food Rant

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Posted by on Jul 20, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Hi.

I haven’t been cooking this last week.  Southern California has been experiencing a “heat wave”¹ and more often than not that translates to “video games and take-out food” in the Anger Burger household.  Bloggers; they’re just like you!

My dad picked up a new oven mitt at a yard sale that had this tag on it.  I suspect it wasn’t made in the US, because in America we tend to avoid combining the words “Challenger” and “Flame Retardant” and “BBQz”.  BBQz?

It cooled down enough last night that I cooked some whitey-ass gai pad krapow made especially inauthentic by the addition of fresh pea shoots.

The pea shoots were a lucky find at the Asian market – they taste like fresh peas, but act like bean sprouts.  You don’t want to cook them as much as allow them to get warm in whatever it is you’ve already cooked.  In this instance, I turned the heat off on the turkey and then stirred in a few big handfuls.  They wilt almost instantly, but the stems stay a little crispy and they taste fresh and vegetal without having much personality of their own.  I mean this in a good way.  It was delicious and we overate before collapsing into another round of Dragon Age: Origins.

It’s hard out there for a wimp.

¹ Wow, who knew Angelenos were such pussies? First of all, the summer of 2010 has set a record for being the coldest in over a decade. Do you understand? It’s been unusually cool and comfortable here. Then! The temperature slowly ramped up to normal heats, spiking in the 100′s in the usual places where only scorpions and Vietnam Vets live and keeping around 90° here in regular ol’ Los Angeles. THIS IS NORMAL. And 90° in Los Angeles is pretty tolerable — it’s dry and cools the fuck off at night. I never thought I’d say this as a born-and-bred pasty white Pacific Northwestern newt-lady, but if you can’t take the heat then get out of the MOTHERFUCKING DESERT.

3 Posted in Drama!

Listen to My Nasal Voice at the Enthusiasts’ Radio Hour

Posted by on Jul 16, 2010 at 11:08 am

In the ongoing discovery of things I do poorly, we can now solidly list “speaking.”  Luckily Brian Salvatore at the Enthusiasts’ Radio Hour and his bechamel voice make things a bit more auditorially palatable.   I suspect we were a bitch to edit.  Also: Dell laptops?  Not the best microphones in the world.  Take note.

To wit: myself and contributor Aaron Leva were interviewed for Mr. Salvatore’s charming and well-produced podcast in an episode called P B and O, named after yours truly (you’ll have to hear why).  It’s a long podcast — almost an hour and a half long and we make up only a portion of the whole show– but you won’t regret listening to the whole thing.  It’s all about food enthusiasm!  You remember enthusiasm, don’t you?  I barely do, but the podcast helped me recall bits and pieces.  Also I name-drop Apelad.

If you don’t want to download the show from the link above than you can listen to it online at Mevio.  Well!  How exciting.  And further thanks to Brian for overflowing with compliments and having that masterful “podcast voice” that makes you feel like you’re on This American Life.

Go!  Listen!

6 Posted in Drama!, Food Rant

Good Things Come in Black and White Packages

Posted by on Jul 12, 2010 at 3:47 pm

The upside¹ of the hipstery food revolution taking place in America is that our produce is getting better.  Sort of.  I can’t walk into my local Ralph’s and find anything but fluffy, tasteless Chiquita Cavendish bananas.  I can, however, get 400 varieties of melon.  I can get grass-fed beef (and even bison!) but the pork still looks like fake meat sculpted from perfectly even, flesh-toned putty.

I think I pushed an old lady out of my way when I saw this at the Japanese market:

That, friends, is a Berkshire pork.  Until recently, no one but maybe a few British farmers knew what Berkshire pork was, and those farmers didn’t much care.  It was an old pig breed (apparently the oldest domesticated variety?) that slipped drastically out of favor.  It was too fatty!  Too fatty, my god.  The horror.  People are snapping out of it (in particular the Japanese) and recognizing that fattier meat means tastier meat.  I grabbed a package of pork belly and my god, was it delicious.  But as we stood in the kitchen prepping dinner, Mike looked at the above logo and said to me, “There’s something about that pig that makes me uncomfortable.”  It was a while before we realized why.

Oh no.

Yep, that’s it.

¹ Downside: the farmer’s market is way too fucking crowded with double-wide strollers and screaming toddlers reaching for $6 punnets of organic strawberries.