Anger Burger

Good Luck

Posted by on Dec 31, 2010 at 9:06 pm

I didn’t have computer access for a few days, and now I’m out the door to do some medicinal drinking.  Here’s to making it another year, my friends.

Your host,

Sunday

0 Posted in Totally Unrelated

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Posted by on Dec 27, 2010 at 6:02 pm

I realize it’s a little late for a peppermint candy cane cookie recipe, but see this?  I’m shrugging.  Because there’s gotta be a reason to make peppermint butter cookies outside of impressing Santa. Peppermint… bunnies?  For Easter?  Sure, I don’t care.  Whatever it takes, man.

My mom has made the same spritz cookies for my entire life.  They’re pretty much like everyone else’s spritz recipe in the world.  Which is to say: scrumptious.  There is no failing with a buttery, almondy little tea cookie.

This year my sister, Layla, asked my mom to make the candy cane cookies she remembers from our childhood.  The punchline is that neither my mom nor I remember these cookies.  My mom vaguely remembers that they were made from the spritz recipe, but has no clear recollection of how much peppermint was used or how they were made.   Not that that stopped us.

They started out the same, but didn’t get any almond extract.  We tried the equivalent amount of peppermint, but the cheap-ass Durkee peppermint extract was seriously weaker than peppermint schnapps.  We ended up putting two teaspoons in and it still baked off so much that we could have used over a tablespoon.

Half gets made red, and then this is where things get strange.  I’m kidding, things started being strange for me on a summer day 31 years ago.

I just pulled this technique out of my ass, but it was a success, so deep bows to everyone involved.

First, I gently twisted a small length of white and red dough together.  If you just crank them like a twist-tie the dough breaks, but if you gently pat them into a twist they comply just fine.

After that they get rolled on the counter top to smooth and elongate into the length and thickness you desire.  You can even roll this out thinner at this state, cut it into lengths of two and make two smaller candy canes.

My mom made the retarded ones.  I’m just saying.

Layla’s Candy Cane Cookies
i realized too late that it would be easy to make a peppermint lozenge from this dough, too, by making a tight twist of both colors and then cutting the twist into thick medallions, and then patting those medallions down a little.  Then when they were baked you could wrap them in cellophane and tie both ends!  cute.   they’d also be nice just in white circles or bars with sparkling white sugar pressed into them.  or shaped as koalas and dyed purple.  it seriously doesn’t matter, they’re tasty.  no one will question it.  you might notice the peppermint canes have 1/4 cup more flour in them than the recipe in the photograph – this is because there is SO MUCH extra liquid from the peppermint extract.  the texture of the dough should be soft and greasy but not sticky at all.

8 oz (two sticks) of butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 C sugar
1 egg, room temperature
2 1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. peppermint extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla (optional)

  • Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and finely textured, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the egg and beat just to combine.
  • Add the flour and salt, mixing until just blended.  Add the peppermint extract and optional vanilla, again mixing just to combine.
  • Heat oven to 400°.
  • If making candy canes, split the dough into two parts and mix enough red paste food dye into one half to make the shade of pink or red you desire (always remember that red food dye is bitter, and to go easy on it).  To make the canes, roll out twists of dough in both colors and shape into canes in any size you desire.
  • Bake small cookies for 6 minutes, bigger cookies for 9, checking the bottoms for nice golden brown coloring all the while.
  • Do not store with other cookies, or they’ll taste like peppermint too.  I discovered.
  • These, like all spritz cookies, freeze wonderfully.  Just freeze the already-baked cookie and thaw before eating.  My family feels like they get better after being frozen and then thawed – the texture becomes less brittle and more softly dry, if that makes any sense, and the flavors get richer.
4 Posted in Make It So

Half a Bottle of Peppermint Schnapps Later…

Posted by on Dec 25, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Santa never leaves our stockings hanging anywhere, they’re too heavy.  They slump over the gifts in the morning, like tired and bloated partygoers:

And then there’s the tradition where my mom tries to terrify us, and succeeds:

She makes up for it by her infallible quest to form nests of birds inside the tree.  This is just one:

And deep Pacific Northwest biological randomness:

And back around to the creepy again:

But it always seems to boil down to the peculiar fact that dogs enjoy Christmas a lot:

And also reminds us that:

Things covered in glitter are better than things not covered in glitter.

I hope everyone ate themselves as sick as I did, and also received a candy octopus ball making kit in their stocking from Santa, like I did.  More later.

4 Posted in Totally Unrelated

No

Posted by on Dec 23, 2010 at 4:30 pm

This will likely never be a problem, but do not eat this under any circumstance:

My sister found this at a grocery outlet store and recognized the brand, Dickinson’s, as being makers of fine lemon curd.  Unfortunately, someone at the Dickinson’s factory was going all Howard Hughes on us and running around with Kleenex boxes on their feet while drafting the recipe for banana curd.  The product itself is gluey, pasty, and every-so-faintly granular in texture, and despite listing no artificial ingredients on the label, tasted like something out of a beaker.

So, no.  Don’t.  Just stop.  Think of the kittens.

2 Posted in Food Rant

Science

Posted by on Dec 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm

My mom wanted me to share this anecdotal evidence of the difference between the sexes:

I assure you this was entirely unstaged.

Soup-cation

Posted by on Dec 21, 2010 at 7:34 pm

As you may know, Mike the Viking doesn’t eat soup.  Soup is for invalids and babies — creatures that have no place in the Viking hierarchy.  Which is why when I traditionally flee his hut over the winter solstice (when he is busy communing with Ullr) I head to my mother’s and start making soup.

Chief amongst soups the Viking finds abominable is chicken and dumplings, so naturally I made it immediately.

Chicken thighs.  An ode:

o my chicken thighs
how very precious you are
gonna eat that bitch

The thing about chicken and dumplings is that for years now – YEARS – I have been trying to make “the perfect” dumpling, and I simply cannot.  I spoke of Niffles, and I assure you, Niffles are leaden balls of lead.  I mean dough.

I’ve tried rendering down my own chicken fat to make the dumplings from.  Nope.

I can tell you that leeks are also magical, particularly in soups.  All the magic of onions but without scaring off people that pretend to not like onions.

Oh!  I almost forgot: so, at one point while my mom and I were cooking this pot of chicken and dumplings, I said to her “Why don’t you get the herbs.”  After a few minutes I turned around and saw this, just as you see it:

My mother, for no reason at all and certainly without intentionally trying to be strange, formed some kind of herb-henge on the counter.  I don’t know what else to call it.  Perfect little piles of fresh herbs, laid out about 12 inches apart.  When I asked her what she was hoping to achieve she told me to mind my own damn business.  Now you know as much as I do.

Back to the dumplings.  The solution to my years of effort?  Bisquick.

Yep, Bisquick, that quick mix of biscuits we all know.  Made according to the instructions on the side of the box, with an addition of fresh herbs.  Of all the stupid damn things.  The outsides were creamy and soft and the insides were fluffy and cooked through, just like a baked biscuit.  As a wise man once said, you gotta know when to fold ‘em.

Chicken-n-Dumplings
makes about 4 servings – the dumplings don’t keep terribly well, so halve the the dumpling portion of the recipe if you’re planning on serving just to two people and keeping the leftovers. the next time you eat the soup, either make another batch of dumplings or do what my mom likes to do and boil down some fresh egg noodles in the soup and turn it into chicken noodle.

2 – 3 pounds of chicken thighs, bone-in and with skin still on
1 box of chicken broth (about 4 or 5 cups) plus 1 cup of water
2 bay leaves

1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large white onion, diced small
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup frozen peas or freshly chopped carrots (optional)
salt and pepper to taste (lots of both!)
fresh rosemary, sage and parsley to taste – about 3 Tbsp. of total chopped volume

Bisquick dumplings, made according to directions on box, with 1 Tbsp of the fresh herbs added

  • First, pull the skin off the chicken thighs and throw it away.  I know: why buy it with the skin on and then remove it?  Because we want some chicken fat still on the thighs, but not all of it.  The pre-skinned thighs are always much too clean.  Place the chicken thighs in a large soup pot with the box of chicken broth and additional cup of water and the two bay leaves.  Turn heat to medium, bring to a low simmer, reduce heat to low and cook until chicken is done, about 20 – 30 minutes depending on the size of the thighs.  Don’t worry about it too much, the meat will be cooked one more time.
  • Remove the thighs from the broth, set aside to cool at room temperature, and reserve the entire pot with the broth, fat and all to a rear burner over low-low heat.  Fish the bay leaves out and throw them away.
  • While the thighs are cooling, clean (CLEAN!) the leeks and then chop them along with the onions and carrots, if using.  In a saute pan, cook the veggies over medium-high heat in the butter and olive oil until just beginning to color, about 7 – 10 minutes.  To this, add the flour and stir to evenly coat and wet through the veggies and fat.  Allow to cook another 3 minutes.
  • Doing one ladle at a time, add three ladles of warm chicken broth to the saute pan of veggies and flour, and stir quickly – you’ve made a roux, or thickener, and if you don’t stir it will turn to glue.  When you’ve got a nice thick but runny slurry, dump the slurry back into the pot of chicken broth on the back burner.  Put the saute pan in the sink, move the pot of broth and veggies to the front burner, and bring up to a low simmer over medium-low heat.
  • While it’s coming up to heat, tear the now-cool chicken thigh meat off the bones.  Toss it into the soup.
  • Simmer the soup for about 10 – 15 minutes to thicken and marry the flavors.  If using, add the frozen peas at some point during this process, along 2 tablespoons of the fresh herbs.
  • While the soup is simmering, prepare the dumplings according to the package’s instructions and add 1 tablespoon of the chopped fresh herbs.  Making sure the soup is at a good solid simmer — almost a boil — drop the dumplings in and cook according to the box, which is basically to cook uncovered for 10 minutes and then covered for an additional 10.
  • Eat and rejoice.
10 Posted in Make It So

America, Fuck Yeah

Posted by on Dec 20, 2010 at 10:34 am

This is the you-bake pizza my dad and I bought for dinner:

It doesn’t fit in his oven.  The whole front is pushed up against the glass.

9 Posted in Food Rant

Leavin’ On a Puke Rocket

Posted by on Dec 15, 2010 at 12:22 pm

I fly back to my hometown of Olympia tomorrow before the buttcrack of dawn, and my blood pressure knows it.  I’m only a little afraid of flying, but the stress of time constraints makes me wanna hurl.  When the flight confirmation email arrived in my box this morning, I felt a lurch of quease.  Blerg.

I don’t know about you, but when I get stressed I start making lists.  You should have seen the list from when we moved, it was like a nuclear reactor shut-down procedure.  But my traveling lists are embarrassing, because I start listing things that I shouldn’t need to.  Here’s a real example of my list from this morning:

  • shower
  • make packing list
  • birth control pills
  • knitting
  • wash dog
  • snacks

You get the idea.  This is not the portrait of myself I’d like to imagine I’d paint.  It would be more like:

  • lingerie for rendezvous with Sam Rockwell
  • send horses to the boarding facility
  • send dog to cryocontainment facility to she won’t age while I am gone
  • tell the pastry chef to have pain au chocolats ready for the morning
  • spacesuit
  • check-in at transporter facility

Instead I’m trying to decide if leaving the kitchen floor dirty is helping or hindering myself, since I’ll have to clean it again when I get back.  I’m going to go with “hinder”.

Collard Greens: You’re Slumming It

Posted by on Dec 13, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Let’s talk about collards.  Or rather, why don’t you sit down and read quietly while I write about collards.

I won’t mind if you want to present sections as a dramatic reenactment, either, particularly if performed as a modern one-person soliloquy called Vague Authority: For Grandmas Who Might Be Wrong.

I get some heebeejeebees when I read instructions to cook collards for less than 10 or 15 minutes – for less than 45 minutes, even.  Most recipes instruct to “cook until tender,” which is a lot like instructing someone to “sleep until refreshed.”  They’re done when they’re done, and it’ll take longer than you think.  Collards are tough and bitter, which might explain why they haven’t ridden the hipster wave of rediscovery like kale has.

So anyway, recipes: I don’t trust them.  My dad’s mom, Grandma Evelyn, was from South Carolina and her collards would sit on the stovetop all through cooking dinner, braising away in butter (and margarine!) and onions until they became silky and soft.  Collards are also often covered with a fine grit that needs to be washed off – you need fingertips for this, not eyeballs.  Feel the leaves and you’ll see what I mean.  They can look pretty clean, but if you rub them you’ll detect a microscopic sandiness.

After they’ve been de-spined (YOU’RE THE PREDATOR OF VEGETABLES!) and washed, the easiest way to chug through the mega-heap of greens is to make big sushi rolls and chop them up.

I actually don’t recall grandma cutting them like this, but it’s what I do.

Like spinach, a giant bunch of collards will cook down to barely enough for two people.  If you want leftovers (which are delightful), then do two bunches.  This is a truly alarming quantity of roughage, but rest assured that it will cook down.

Grandma also didn’t use balsamic vinegar, but balsamic is perfect: the sweetness and mild bite of the vinegar knocks all the tastes onto an even playing field.  I don’t like bitter greens, but well-cooked collards lose their bitterness, and I could eat a whole cereal-bowl-full of them.

Mike the Viking struck his club against a villager while shouting “Svinekød! Svinekød!” until I figured out that he wanted a hamsteak.  And I don’t know about you, but I can’t eat anything ham without gravy.

Ahh, that’s nice.  Do you like how this looked like it might be healthy when we started?  That was a close call.

Vegetarian Collard Greens
collards can be hard to find, but they’re easy to spot because the leaves are HUGE and totally flat.  if you really can’t find them, try a mix of mustard greens and kale, and reduce the cooking time by about 15 – 20 minutes.  those of you with decent memories might remember i wrote about collards about a year ago, and this recipe is just slightly tweaked.

1 bunch fresh collard greens
1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
2 – 4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

  • Prepare the collards by cutting the thick part of the spines out and then washing them thoroughly in cool water.  Cut the collards up by rolling a few leaves into a tube and then slicing it into about 1-inch pieces.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the onion, cooking until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add collards, adding just a few handfuls at a time and stirring to deflate them before adding a few more handfuls.  You can rush this deflation process by putting a lid on the pot for a few minutes at a time.
  • Add about 1 tsp. of salt or so.  It will probably need more, but you can wait until serving.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and place a lid half-on, half-off to let the greens vent while cooking.
  • The collards will go from a vibrant, healthy-looking green to a deep, murky green over the course of the next 30 – 60 minutes.  You can taste as you go to see what I mean about texture, but they’ll go from having quite a pronounced bite to tender and eventually to a silky texture not unlike a cured grape leaf.  They can cook for longer than an hour at low heat, which is quite handy for if you’re making a whole mess of other stuff for dinner and you don’t want to have to keep an eye on the veg.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and stir through.  Cook another 15 minutes.  Add more vinegar if the first batch mellowed out too much.

Black- Eye Gravy
my black-eye gravy is based on a sort of gross traditional Southern “dip” called red-eye gravy that is made by deglazing a pan of fat with some hot black coffee.  The resulting oil and coffee is poured into a small dish which then makes a “red eye” with the coffee settling at the bottom and forming the pupil and the oil forming the iris.  you’d then dip your biscuits in this oil.  my black-eye gravy is a basic country gravy made with coffee and pepper.  and for those who don’t know: Kitchen Bouquet is a vegetarian food additive made from deeply condensed and caramelized vegetables that is used in tiny quantities to give food a richer flavor and deeper color.  i’ve heard that Marmite/Vegemite has a similar effect, if you have some of that.  this quantity serves two but is easily doubled.

1 1/2 cups coffee-infused milk (see below)
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil / frying oil from cooking some meat in the same skillet
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. Kitchen Bouquet
1/2 tsp. onion powder
salt to taste
LOTS of fresh black pepper

  • First, prep your coffee milk: heat the milk until steaming (not simmering) and use it instead of water to brew a single cup of coffee’s worth of fresh ground coffee in a paper cone filter or a french press.  Set the coffee-infused milk aside.
  • In a skillet (particularly if you fried something else in a little oil in that skillet, like a ham steak – if you’re doing this, don’t add any more oil) over medium heat add the butter and the oil, and then the flour.  Cook the flour through to take out the rawness, about two minutes.
  • Quickly and using a whisk, mix the coffee milk into the flour and fat, which will thicken almost instantly.  If it got a little lumpy, don’t panic, just keep whisking.  It’ll loosen up.  Turn the heat down to low.
  • Stir in the Kitchen Bouquet, onion powder, salt and pepper, and taste.  Let cook for about five minutes to marry the flavors.  If the gravy is too thick, thin it with a little more milk.  If it’s too thin, let it cook over low heat, stirring regularly, until it has thickened down to your tastes.
4 Posted in Make It So

It’s a Miracle!

Posted by on Dec 11, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Today you get a photo because I am desperately nauseated and heartburny due to an ill-advised order of sweet potato fries from the Frysmith truck.  And I say ill-advised because I ordered them anyway, even though my similar-taste-buddy Hatherly told me quite clearly before I ordered them: “I couldn’t eat mine when I was pregnant – when I was pregnant.”  I nodded sagely, yes, okay, but I am going to get some anyway.  The sweet potato fries are topped with what Frysmith describes clearly as “chicken in tomatillo-tamarind sauce” and which turned out to be chicken cooked in so. much. cumin.  that I could forge through no more than a quarter of the dish before I had to throw it away.  It’s been two hours and I’m still belching up such powerful cumin miasma that Mike says the livingroom smells like chili.

Anyway, so you get this:

This is the take-out menu from our new favorite Indian delivery joint, Robina’s.  I’m hoping they can tell me where they get this magical fat-free oil from.

4 Posted in Drama!