Anger Burger

I Promise This Won’t Become a Mommy Blog

Posted by on Jan 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Mostly because I’m not pregnant, don’t be absurd.  The Viking and I are clearly not allowed to have children, we were barely allowed to adopt a dog no one wanted. World, meet my planty babies!  The A+ for brown-nosing goes to the shishito peppers, who have exuberantly germinated:

Shishito are little Japanese peppers that are rarely spicy (I’ve gotten the occasional hot-cha-cha one before, but most are team players) and somewhat tough.  They certainly aren’t meaty and juicy like jalapenos.  The Japanese like them grilled until they are soft and blistered, and they know what they’re talking about.  With nothing more than some fine salt, grilled shishito peppers have the absentminded chowability of edemame.   Grow, fools!

Also putting in a good show is the holy basil:

Holy basil is used in Thai cuisine, and there are a bunch of different varieties.  I’m growing “Nicobar,” which has a strong clove flavor.  Holy basils are interesting because unlike Italian basil we’re used to, the Thai varieties get stronger in flavor as they cook.  Super strange.

ThinkTank, aka The Thing That Lurks, aka Punchkin, was on hand to lend me moral support while I did some gardening preparations today.

She’s a pretty active dog.  Tires us out.

Speaking of mysterious, my kumquat tree seems unhappy.  We bought it about three months ago and it seemed all gung-ho about making fruit, and then the leaves started looking poor.  They’ve folded in on themselves a little and have gotten a tiny bit yellow near the tips.

“Yellow” might even be too strong a word, they’ve gotten more like less green?  It’s been like this for the last month.  I’ve tried moving the tree to a different sun exposure, I’ve tried feeding it a light dose of fertilizer for citrus, I’ve tried changing the watering schedule, and it looks the same.   I don’t know.  WHY YOU NOT THRIVE?

I planted half a million other things that haven’t germinated yet, but no one is in big trouble yet.  I’ve even tried to germinate the notoriously impossible to grow miracle fruit.  Apparently only 1 in 4 seeds ever sprouts, with worse odds for growing to maturity.  Aaron, occasional contributor to Anger Burger, gave me a packet of them as a gift a while back and I have my doubts.  I mean, about the success of my miracle fruit grow operation, not that he gave them to me.

This post was so wholesome, I’m all choked up.

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5 Posted in Food Rant

If a Taco Truck is a “Roach Coach,” Is a Lobster Roll Truck a “Coach Coach”?

Posted by on Jan 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm

My friend Hatherly was supposed to meet me at the Lobsta Truck, but she had a baby¹ so it was up to Mike the Viking and myself to buckle down and eat bougie food from a truck.

I feel compelled to address what other reviewers have commented on, which is the apparent dissonant image of a food truck serving lobster.  What I think is surprising and strange is that people find it surprising and strange.  The food truck phenomenon stopped being gristle tacos years ago, but even Angelinos insist on feigning amazement² over the never-ending parade of unique eats made available from mobile dispensaries.  Lobster rolls seem like a perfect inhabitant of this new food truck land; an expensive lunch one buys themselves only rarely, which works out well since it it’s rarely nearby anyway.

But let me discuss the food before I continue down Navel Gazing Avenue.  There was a line of 15 people before the truck opened, and when I turned to count as I left, was closer to 30 deep (the line extends down the block away from us on the left):

The Viking surprised me – and I think himself – by deciding at the last minute to order the crab roll instead of a lobster roll.  Both crab and lobster are offered with either mayonnaise or drawn butter, and I made the executive decision to have his crab with butter and my lobster with mayo.  I overheard someone mention that the rolls were “really small” and to get two, but at $11 each I was all, I’m going to need to pick up an extra sugar daddy for that business.

This image is very nearly actual size.

The rolls are certainly no submarine sandwiches, and while I could have eaten three I was also happy with just one.  The crab was fresh and sweet and even the Viking felt it was a good portion for the price.  I think getting it with butter was smart, since it turned out that “mayonnaise” actually means “mayonnaise with a lot of Old Bay in it”:

My lobster roll was delicious and I’m not sorry I got it, but if I’d known the mayo was seasoned I would have gone for butter instead.  The lobster just barely escaped being completely overwhelmed by the spices, and the crab would have been lost entirely.

Lobsta Truck’s clam chowder was pedestrian and I didn’t take a photo of it.  I am an acknowledged clam chowder jerk, right down to my sense of entitlement from having grown up in the Pacific Northwest where, like it or not, Ivar’s sets the standard.  Lobsta’s chowder is a standard cream-base soup, lacking complexity and mouthfeel.  The clams in it, however, were pristinely tasty, and I desperately want them to let me make their chowder for them to show those clams the good time they deserve.

Despite the scoff-inducing $4 pricetag for a whoopie pie, I ordered one anyway and was not disappointed that I was disappointed — I really, really don’t need a $4 whoopie pie habit.

It was just okay.  I found the cake grain inappropriately large and sturdy for a whoopie pie, and the filling had no trace of marshmallow flavor at all, just a run-of-the-mill vanilla buttercream.  And once again we have zero salt in a very sweet baked good (as confirmed by the ingredient list on the package), a mistake I am finding increasingly amateur.

I had a genuine moment of food regret as I handed over $33 to the nice fellow working the truck.  Thirty-three dollars!  For lunch!  I guess we’re eating lawn clippings for dinner again.  But the rolls themselves were worth the splurge, and as we drove away I saw a group of people sitting on a tailgate eating their lobster rolls, and they’d brought wine and real wine glasses with them, and I was overwhelmed with a buoying moment of love for this food culture.  While hundreds if not thousands of people were right at that moment eating some pile of overcooked excrement at Olive Garden, five people in the Valley of Los Angeles were drinking white wine and eating fresh, sweet lobster rolls while a 75° January breeze ruffled their hair.

¹ Two years ago, but she still has him so I guess she likes him.  I’m not sure she likes him 100% when he keeps her from eating lobster rolls, though.
² I don’t mean we shouldn’t be amazed, we should be, but at the luck of living here, not at the limitless medium of the food truck.

4 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

Peanut Butter and Jelly, Sans Sandwich

Posted by on Jan 27, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I talk about Mike the Viking’s food-hate a lot here on Anger Burger, but only because I think they are weird things to dislike.  I think it’s normal for people to dislike certain foods.  I, for example, am not crazy about pureed squashes.  But here’s the Viking’s top 5, by way of example:

  • Soup. This applies to any food with a significant amount of either liquid or small pieces.  For example, couscous is “soup”.  Beans are “soup”.  Goulash is “soup”.  Oddly, ramen and udon he will eat but calls them “noodles” and ignores the liquid.
  • Cake with frosting. Plain cake is acceptable.  Frosting is not.  Discuss.
  • Whole grain breads.  These are “dirty” breads.
  • Pasta with tomato sauce.  To be fair, I’m very particular about my tomato-sauced pastas as well, so there’s a pot-n-kettle element here.
  • Cabbage. Slaw is the only acceptable end for a cabbage’s life, with the exception of being blown up by lightning.  Cooking with cabbage is a fast track to getting your braids cut off and your rear end paddled.

Those dislikes don’t even bother me as much as his tendency to declare he likes something and then later hate it.  This happened with the goulash.  One week he was eating it and making happy noises, and the next he picked at it for a few minutes before throwing the bowl at the wall and crushing a nearby peasant with his hands.

But!  The list of things that always, never-fail please him have held steady over the decade I’ve known him.  Easily at the top of that list is peanut butter and jelly, which is why when I came across a PB&J cookie-bar recipe, I knew he’d love it.  And he did.

The original recipe was off by a few crucially key points, primarily a weak peanut butter flavor (?!), and secondarily much too sweet.  After that the complaints seemed like nitpicking: too evenly textured, not salty enough, blee blur blah.

That’s a lot of goddamn jelly!

I feel like the final product is recognizably the same, but definitely Anger Burgerfied and I dare say a little more adult.  I hate saying that.  I don’t want to adult it up, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that kids would happily gobble both versions down.  Vikings certainly do.

This is how much you pat the top layer down – enough to “flatten” it but not enough to lose texture.

I try not to do this, but there is an unusual ingredient in my version.  It’s pomegranate molasses:

Pomegranate molasses is just pomegranate juice that has been cooked down to a thicker, darker-tasting product.  There’s no other ingredients in it.  It’s sweet and sour with a deep brown note of caramelized sugars and a distant, almost non-existent touch of bitterness.  And it’s pure fairy magic when added to everything from salad dressings to ice cream.  In theory you can make your own¹ by gently simmering down pomegranate juice until it is thick, but I’m finding that it is getting easier to find in stores as the years pass.  This brand specifically, even.  Over the years I’ve found it at general ethnic food stores, in super-fancy cooking shops, and most recently, just down the street from my house at a hole-in-the-wall Middle Eastern grocery.  Prices online are stupid, ranging from $5 to $10, not including shipping.  That bottle up there ran me $2.

However, in the interest of accessibility, lemon juice works well enough in this recipe.

The Viking gobbled a warm slice down and went back for seconds, which means everyone is happy.  Except for me, who has not been able to stop eating them for the last goddamn motherfucking 24 hours, no joke.  Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Jelly Bars
you can use any jam or jelly you’d like.  i think raspberry is traditional, but apparently grape jelly is the flavor most folks associate with pb&j sandwiches?  and here in the photos I used marionberry from a jar my dad sent us, but my advice is to get as low a sugar content as you can.  secondly, experiment with other nut butters – almond would be rad.

for the base mix:
1/2 stick (2oz) butter, room temperature
1/4 cup of vegetable shortening
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup chopped, roasted peanuts
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp.  salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour

for the filling:
10 oz. jelly or jam of your choice
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses or 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

for the top:
(added to 1/3 of the base mix)
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter

  • Heat oven to 375°.
  • To start the base mix, in a large bowl cream together the butter, shortening and peanut butter.  Add the brown sugar and mix until lighter in color and well incorporated.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix just until you can’t see the egg any more.  Add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, salt and peanuts.  The dough will be thick but not sticky and clear the sides of the bowl easily.
  • Pull off 2/3 of the dough and press it into the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan.  There’s no need to grease, the base is greasy enough on its own (!).  Bake for 10 minutes, or until just barely beginning to brown around the edges – it may not even be visibly brown at all.  Don’t worry.
  • While the base is baking, add the “top” ingredients to the remaining 1/3 of the base mix: the additional sugar, additional peanut butter, oats and salt.  When it is mixed through, it’ll be crumbly.  Set it aside.
  • In a smaller bowl, mix together the jelly and the pomegranate molasses (or lemon juice) and taste for tartness.  It should be pretty tart, maybe a little more than you think tastes good, but trust me, it’ll balance out with the sweet crust.  If the jelly doesn’t seem tart enough, add more pomegranate molasses or lemon juice until you’re happy.
  • The base should be done with its 10 minute bake by now.  To the hot base (careful!) quickly spread the jelly mix evenly, and then sprinkle over the top mix.  Being very careful to not touch the side of the hot pan, pat down the crumbled topping until even but not so hard as to mash it into a solid layer.  See above photo for reference.  The pressing down establishes a sturdier crust that will be easier to cut and eat when cool.
  • Return the pan to the oven and bake an additional 15 minutes.  If you want a very crisp top, turn the broiler on high and NEVER TAKING YOUR EYES OFF IT let it toast for about 3 minutes.
  • Remove from oven.  Don’t try cutting pretty slices while still warm, but do eat some while still warm.  The bars are very, very easy to cut the next day, but they’re okay the first day, too.

¹ There are recipes online for making pomegranate molasses, but they all include adding sugar and lemon juice, which real pomegranate molasses doesn’t include. I’m not sure why they add this. I’m under the impression that simmering down the juice over very low heat until reduced by 3/4 — this takes a long time! at least an hour! — is basically what you buy in the bottle.

6 Posted in Make It So

Waffle Battle Fight

Posted by on Jan 26, 2011 at 1:00 pm

After years of pancake devotion, we’ve converted to Wafflism.

I’ll be brief about it, but my educated and learned conclusion is that yeasted waffles are the most superior variety, and that King Arthur Flour’s “Belgian Yeast Waffle” is a good starting point.  The batter can be mixed in its entirety¹ the night before, and I can find no fault with either flavor or texture.  Ha-ha!  I’m such a liar; I thought the batter had a lot of vanilla in it, but when cooked, the flavor was totally AWOL.  If you like a birthday-cakey, vanilla-y waffle, you’ll want to at least double the vanilla.

But let’s say you want waffles RIGHT NOW and you did not have the foresight of preparing a yeasted batter.  No fear!  I agree with the rest of the internet when I point you toward the “Waffle of Insane Greatness“.   It still begs a 30 minute rest before using, but is yeastless and has lots of buttermilk in it, which makes for a differently gnawesome waffle experience.

Of the two, the Viking and I prefer the yeasted waffle:

It’s just such a pretty waffle, on top of tasting so good.  The exterior crust is thin and crispy, but the insides are nicely puffy and creamy.  A solid player for very little effort.

Which brings me to the fabled Liège waffle.  I can best describe a Lèige waffle as a “waffled cinnamon-roll”.  The dough is yeasted and very buttery — nearly a brioche — and studded with crystals of pearl sugar.  The exterior gets quite crispy, while the interior is decidedly bready in texture.  Perhaps best of all, the sugar pieces melt and form molten, mouth-destroying globs of caramel.  I’ve had Liège waffles prepared commercially, but until now I’d never tried to make them myself.

I started with Not Martha’s recipe, and will be making some alterations. Because I can’t leave well enough alone, of course, don’t be silly.

It’s hard to really put my finger on how this recipe missed the mark by a hair, but I think the major issue was the pearl sugar.  I used small Swedish pearl sugar, whereas Not Martha uses Belgian style, which are much, much larger chunks.  Another website suggested hand-crushing good ol’ American sugar cubes into smaller pieces, and that even seems an improvement over what I used.

Because though the waffles were cooked through and everything else seemed pretty much on target, the sugar didn’t melt.  The pearls of sugar did what they are supposed to do on any other item, which is to remain intact during baking.  But I want them to melt.  I want them to blister my lips and elicit a string of profanities the likes of which no breakfast treat has ever heard before.

I also deviated from the recipe by kneading the dough in small quantity of flour, something that no one recommends doing but I figured was fine.  Which it may have been, but also my waffles turned out a smidge dry and this could be from the minuscule amount of added flour.  Though I doubt it.  But still.  Next time, I’ll suffer through a much wetter dough and see if they can’t loosen up a little.

I don’t mean to imply that anyone should avoid making these just because I found them slightly less than perfect.  You should make them.  They aren’t your sit-down-and-eat-a-bottle-of-maple-syrup variety waffles, they are standing around in the kitchen, drinking coffee and snatching bacon out of the pan, hand-snacking on some waffle waffles.  They are complex and filling, wanting for only a bit of whipped cream or fresh sugared strawberries.  And besides, you know, waffle experiment.  Those two words are like auditory cocaine for me.  EVERYONE OUT OF BED, IT’S WAFFLE EXPERIMENT TIME.  I KNOW ITS 4AM, DID YOU NOT JUST HEAR THE WORDS “WAFFLE EXPERIMENT”?!

¹ I say this specifically because most overnight yeast batters call for egg and/or butter to be added the next day – which, if you’re sleepy is a pretty mean prank to play on yourself.  My primary suggestion would be: let it sit for an hour at room temperature before refrigerating the night before, and before using the next day allow the batter to sit out for an additional 30 minutes.  That’s 30 minutes for you to make coffee, remember where your pants are and try to get some of the mascara off your face.

13 Posted in Food Rant

The Miracle of Miracles, Wrapped in a Blessing, Swaddled in Divine Gift, with a Souciant of Baby Jesus’ Personal Best Wishes

Posted by on Jan 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm

I’m grumpy.

  • First, Oprah.  I can’t stand her.  I’m one of those people, yes, that wishes that she’d just build her intergalactic starship to take her fans and colonize a new planet already.  Oh wait, they chose this planet.  ANYWAY, I mostly don’t have to deal with her but the last few months of her “last season” bullshit (I think starting your own TV channel is effectively the same thing as continuing the show) has it all ramping¹ back up again — the last 24 hours especially.  In case you missed it and/or don’t live in America, over the last few days there have been teasers running for a new episode where Oprah breathlessly announces (AND I MOTHERFUCKING QUOTE) “The miracle of miracles.”   I know!  Finally!  That cancer wasn’t gonna cure itself.   Oh-ho, but no, not that miracle of miracles, no, instead it’s that she has a half sister.   That sound?  Like crickets and tumbleweeds?  Is me trying to not stroke out.  I mean, I’m sure it’s surprising to discover you have a sibling but just for once, just once, I wish that Oprah was capable of reining in the hyperbole.  I.  Cannot.  Stand.  This.  Woman.
  • Last night I made lamb and mint meatpies (from this recipe, but not as shepard’s pies) with unadulterated fancy-pants salad mix salad and it was grand:

    We ate while playing a particularly epic round of Talisman, which I felt was appropriate. Well, a little. Thematically sound? “Appropriate” might have been something more along the lines of a gristly sausage roll and some scabies.
  • Really apropos of nothing, over the holidays when I was visiting my mom, she gave me this item she found in the old, old storage:

    The thing is, I’ve never seen this before, and it’s clearly old. Adding to the mystery is a Disneyland price tag on the back:

    The best we can figure is that they bought it for me when I was either too young to write in it, or it was purchased behind my back to be given to me at a later date. We made several trips to Disneyland in my childhood (my grandparents lived nearby), so either of these scenarios fits the timeline. Either way, it was forgotten about until I was 31 years old, at which point I found it indescribably trippy. As you might imagine, as a child I never got those pre-made name items, like bicycle license plates or keychains with names written in calligraphy². And I think about my parents finding this little diary and buying it… it makes me teary for more than one reason.

¹ The spellchecker is trying very earnestly to change this into “raping back up”.
² I did, however, receive more than one pack of “day of the week” underpants primarily to keep the “Sunday” pair.

Pound Cake for Procrastinators

Posted by on Jan 22, 2011 at 8:34 am

Mom, are you paying attention?  Because this is the best pound cake I’ve ever made.

A few years ago Cook’s Illustrated published a recipe in their America’s Best Lost Recipes book called “Cold Oven Pound Cake”.  There’s some back story for the concept, but I’ll give you the Sunday’s Cliff’s Notes here and tell you that it’s boring and I’m asleep.  There’s some reason why the cake is started in a cold oven and it doesn’t matter.  What matters is this: the texture is unparalleled.  It’s divine.  I ate two slices with my eyes closed (which took some skill), mesmerized by the almost total lack of cake crumb – it was like a heavy, rich sponge cake, or the fluffiest polenta you’ve ever had.  If there has ever been a cake that I just wanted to slowly mash into my own face, rubbing sensually into every wrinkle and nostril, it was this cake.

I lied when I said it was for procrastinators.  The butter, sour cream, milk and eggs should all really, really be at room temperature before you start baking.  Everything but the eggs can be cheated with a tryst in the microwave, but the eggs won’t play that game.  They’ve got to sit on your counter for a few hours, there’s just no getting around it.  This in particular is a mistake I see get played out frequently: adding cold eggs to soft butter makes – ta da! – cold butter!

Otherwise, the cake is as easy as cakes come.  You mix it together.  You can make it whatever flavor you want.  It makes a lot.  I erred a smidge, I think, by using my wide loaf pans.  I think a narrow loaf pan would have made a more visually appealing cake, but the second you’re in the room with this thing, the visual element of it becomes completely irrelevant.

That dark line of dense cake at the bottom is normal – in fact, characteristic of pound cakes.

I did some poking around on the interwebs and discovered that indeed, this is little different from recipes referred to as  “grandma’s” or ones that so-and-so’s mom is famous for, which is why I feel comfortable saying that the alterations I’ve made have made it, at the very least, no longer a Cook’s Illustrated recipe.  Once again, none of this really matters.  This cake is unstoppable.  This cake belongs to itself.

The Pound Cake to End All Pound Cakes
the basic recipe is listed first with some flavor suggestions listed later.  the Viking is particularly fond of the “eggnog” variety.

1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs, room temperature
3 cups (12oz) cake flour, sifted
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla paste (plain extract is fine)

for eggnog pound cake, add:
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. rum extract
2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger

for lemon pound cake, add:
the zest of 1 lemon, about 1 Tbsp.
the juice of 1 lemon, about 2-3Tbsp.

for “citrus” pound cake add:
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. orange zest
1 tsp. lime zest
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. orange juice
1 Tbsp. lime juice

for almond pound cake add:
1 Tbsp. almond extract

any other flavor of pound cake:
add no more than about 3 Tbsp. or 1/4 cup additional liquid, whatever liquid that may be
add as much dry spice as you want, but start low and taste as you go

  • Swearing to baby jesus that your dairy is all at room temperature,  start by prepping your pans: either one large bundt pan greased and floured or two loaf pans, greased and floured.  I’m a big fan of the grease-n-flour sprays such as Baker’s Joy.  They work.
  • In a bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder, then add salt.  Set aside.
  • In the bowl of your mixer, cream the butter until soft and smooth.  Add the sugar in 1/2 cup increments, beating well to incorporate each time.  The total beating time should be in the realm of 5 minutes.  The butter and sugar should be pale yellow and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, allowing them to incorporate each time.
  • Scrape the bowl down well, mix again for a few seconds, and then add the flour about 1 cup at a time, alternating with sour cream.   Add your additional flavorings.
  • Scrape down bowl and then beat the batter again for about a minute on medium speed.
  • Decant into baking pan(s) and place onto the middle rack of your COLD oven.
  • Close the door.
  • Turn the oven on to 325°, set the timer for 60 minutes and then walk away.  Depending on all kinds of things, the cakes may need as much as 15 additional minutes of cooking time.  The cakes are done when they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (don’t insert a toothpick directly into the crack that forms – the crack is often gummy and sticky even when the cake underneath is quite done).
11 Posted in Make It So

Chef Boyangree

Posted by on Jan 21, 2011 at 8:41 am

Even I am impressed with how weak that title is.

Two people in the last week sent me emails asking how my Crohn’s was doing lately, and it reminded me that, oh yeah, I tend to not talk about it when it isn’t bothering me.  And then!  Hilarity, I uh, I ate about 20 prunes.  OVER TWO DAYS, stop looking at me like that.  But, considering what 20 prunes would do to a healthy person, you can perhaps imagine — and for that I’m sorry — what it does to someone with chronic diarrhea.  Some people have drug problems.  I have fruit problems.

Truly, though, it’s what happens occasionally.  I know I can’t eat a lot of fruit, but a combination of willful disregard and boneheaded denial means that sometimes I am stuck in my house all day in my jim-jams wondering how I can have dealt with this disease for nearly 15 years and still find myself on Red Ball¹ alerts that are my fault.  Oh well, live and not learn I guess.

Anyway!  Here’s an embarrassing comfort food: ketchup fried rice.  Oh yes.  Ketchup fried rice has a (not sarcastic!) rich history in Japan, though admittedly different from how I make it.  Traditionally, it is a very simple mix of white rice, usually some chicken and a few microscopic pieces of vegetable, and ketchup.  That whole mix is topped or rolled up in some egg, and voila, you’ve got omurice.  Once again, it sounds questionable, but anyone who ever had a soft spot for Chef Boyardee will find that ketchup fried rice has a similar but much more palatable appeal.

So as I moped around not far from the toilet yesterday evening, I remembered that I had leftover chicken in the fridge and the rest was history.  By which I mean dinner.

I wish I’d had some green pepper to put in, but I had cooked carrots and some green onion, and sometimes good enough is … good … enough.

HIPPIES.  I mean, fancy grain mix.  Mostly rice.  Some other crap.  Barley maybe?  White rice is fine, I just got a bug up my ass lately over eating more nutritious and jibber jabber.

Oh yeah, this cracked me up – Heinz started making a HFCS-free ketchup, so you know, if you’re worried about how much corn sugar you’re consuming each time you chug a cup of ketchup, you can rest easy.

Mmm, deeelishus.  Omurice would have a nice fluffy omelet on top, but this was all I had the endurance for.  That, and getting angry enough at Cupcake Wars to stand up and yell at the television.  But you know, that’s just a regular evening around the Anger Burger corporate offices.

Ketchup Fried Rice
i suppose you could fancy this up by using tomato sauce and sort of emulating your own ketchup, but it really defeats the entire purpose of this dish, which is to treat yourself like you’re a cranky toddler.  if you just must do a fancy version, Cooking with Dog’s is your best reference.

2 cups cooked rice, any kind
1/2 lb. cooked chicken, cut into small cubes
1 carrot, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup frozen peas, if you got ’em
1/2 green bell pepper, diced small
1/4 sweet onion, diced small, or 3 green onions, whites and greens separately chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. porcini mushroom powder (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

  • Cook the rice, if you haven’t already.
  • In a nonstick frying pan over medium heat, add the oil, carrots, green pepper and onion (or the whites of the green onion) and saute until almost cooked tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir regularly to keep from burning the bits.
  • To the vegetables, add the rice and stir through the vegetables to incorporate.  Add the ketchup, Worcestershire and porcini mushroom powder, if using.  Lower heat to medium low and allow the rice to gently saute and absorb the ketchup, stirring occasionally, for another 5 to 7 minutes.  If using green onions, add the leftover chopped green tops of the green onion just before serving.
  • If you want to make proper omurice, this isn’t entirely accurate, but you can top the rice with a nice little folded omelet or egg cooked any way you like and you won’t be sorry.

¹ Minority Report reference. But you know, not a crime of passion, but a poop of passion.  I’ve heard parents of small children refer to this as a “Code Brown.”

7 Posted in Make It So


Posted by on Jan 20, 2011 at 2:31 pm

And no, I don’t mean that rocket, I mean this rocket:

The Delta IV Heavy!  Biggest motherfucker ever to launch anywhere ever!  And I just saw it take off like 140 miles away and shit!  I’m all full of adrenaline!  And caffeine!  And a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup!

5 Posted in Drama!, True Story

Stuff and Such

Posted by on Jan 19, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Presented to you as a bullet list, some things:

  • I am craving a Peanut Buster Parfait.  I blame my mom, mostly.
  • So, Silk’s PureAlmond milk?  Is fucking disgusting.  I’ve never thrown out a carton of cow-milk alternative before, and that shit went down the sink.  First of all, if it takes longer than 30 seconds for your milk to filter down into your bowl of cereal, the milk is too thick.  And the thickness is clearly there to try and cover for the fact that the milk doesn’t taste like anything.  It’s like drinking a cup of faintly musty gelatin.
  • This year!  I started seeds!  I started a bunch of weird stuff that’ll probably die, but I’m still pretty excited about it.  Mostly Asian herbs and vegetables from Kitazawa Seed, but also some unusual edibles from my other favorite place, Renee’s.   Anyway, I bring this up because I discovered that I am totally, outrageously impatient.  I thought I was less impatient these days since my knitting concentration has improved dramatically, but I realized that might be because I let myself watch TV while knitting.  I keep checking on my plants in their little ramshackle garbage bag greenhouse tent and yelling at them “HURRY UP!”
  • CARS STRESS ME OUT.  We really, really need to invest in a new (to us) car, but the details of it are genuinely frustrating.  We are looking into getting a small used car loan, and the whole subject is way stupider then I’d ever feared.  We debated leasing a car since the monthly payments would be lower, and because cars aren’t actual investments and I don’t care that you don’t own it at the end of the lease period, but I got too spooked after hearing some stories from people about paying exorbitant sums when they had small damages to the car.  And!  This all isn’t even scratching the surface of the what-make-and-model anxiety.  Anyway, the whole subject is strange because Mike and I have always had hand-me-down cars where we didn’t have to make any decisions.  Also, we dearly love our current car, the one we’re trying to take the pressure off of.  We think of it as a family member.  I honestly believe that car saved our lives one night while driving through a sudden blizzard on a mountain pass in Idaho.
  • Trader Joe’s recently reformulated their orange sticks (international homies: orange sticks are soft orange-flavored jellies covered in chocolate) and now they are RADICAL.  The orange jelly is really soft and sweet-tart, and the dark chocolate shell is super thin and almost crispy.  I am struggling to limit myself to one each time I walk by the drawer where they are kept.
  • This:

  • I baked this a few days ago, and no kidding, it was one of the best things I’ve ever made.  It was incredible.  The Viking and I ate it all in almost one sitting, hot from the oven.  It was a total revelation.  And why didn’t I document it?  Because the lighting was poor and I was feeling tired and lazy and I honestly didn’t have high hopes for it.  BOY WAS I WRONG.  Don’t worry, I’ll be making it again very, very soon, and next time I promise photos.  In the meantime, you could just make it yourself.
3 Posted in Drama!

In the Annals of Bad Ideas

Posted by on Jan 17, 2011 at 4:18 pm

When I first met¹ the Viking he told me this story about when he went to Japan: everyone was eating these tasty-looking savory donut items on the street, so he ordered some.  Of course, it turned out to be takoyaki, or “octopus balls,” (the direct translation is actually “grilled octopus” but that is an inaccurate description) and not unlike my roasted chestnut experience in Italy, he soon found himself spitting it back out onto the ground in front of horrified foreign onlookers.  Then he set fire to the takoyaki cart and raped several bystanders.

The sad part is that takoyaki can be good: a small, spherical savory donut with a piece of cooked octopus in the middle and then topped with something similar to steak sauce and some green onions and fish flakes.  Sounds iffy, I know, but it’s a tasty treat when made correctly.  Unfortunately, the ones the Viking ate had inedible, overcooked octopus pieces and a batter that was goopy, flavorless and offensively textured.

Speaking of goopy, flavorless and offensively textured, the Meiji Takoyaki Gummy Kit succeeds at recreating his experience perfectly!

Unlike the gummy sushi kit by a different manufacturer, the takoyaki gummy instructions are not as clear. Though, honestly, there’s not much to worry about, I mean, you mix some water in the powder and apparently make little takoyakis.  Rocket science.  Any by rocket science I mean small Asian children can do it in their sleep.

Still, the kit is pretty cute.  Once again I’m surprised at how small everything is.  Can you see the world’s tiniest spoon in there?

Gah, octopus pieces!  Totally cute.  And they smell like strawberry, which is a good sign.

Then everything goes downhill.  The gelatinous “batter” for the takoyaki smells like peaches but has a mucilaginous texture that has my gag reflex on high alert.

The Viking missed out on the sushi kit, so I let him turn the takoyaki to try and make them spherical.  It is not a well-planned kit, to be honest.  The jelly doesn’t really want to set up firmly (or I put too much water in, but it seemed like barely enough) and the spheres are nearly impossible to turn with the microspoon.  I’m mesmerized at the concentration he puts into them, though.  He’s very good at it.

They get topped with a sauce packet of surprisingly mature-tasting caramel with a distinct burnt sugar note, and some “green onion” sprinkles that are barely even green colored and taste like sugar.

Down the hatch.  And because the world isn’t a strange enough place, the Viking doesn’t hate them.  He finds the flavor a little on the bland end of the spectrum and the “batter” jelly to be somewhat grainy, but otherwise he methodically eats half of the batch with the kind of academic consideration most people put into doing their taxes.

I on the other hand am instantly queased out.  They’re fucking disgusting.  The “batter” jelly is a terrible texture, both too soft and too resistant at the same time, and it doesn’t taste like anything, it just smells like peach.  It’s like eating a booger.  I imagine. Ahem.

I made me sad for several minutes afterward.  In fact for hours after, because I’m sad about it even as I write this.  I have to go wash my mind out by re-watching Blue Crush or something.

¹Technically not true; when I first ‘met’ Mike the Viking he struck me over the head with a length of timber and I awoke later in his smoke-filled hut while he whispered “Skotska djevelen” to me while stroking my hair.

2 Posted in Drama!, Food Rant