Okay, so I feel like I should offer an explanation, but I don’t want to.
Let’s get that a little closer.
Mike the Viking, yours truly, Mysterious Guest from New Zealand
Okay, so I feel like I should offer an explanation, but I don’t want to.
Let’s get that a little closer.
Mike the Viking, yours truly, Mysterious Guest from New Zealand
A lot of people are concerned about why they don’t yet have a jetpack, and I really only have one thing to say to that.
Where the fuck is my bag of flour that can be opened by a reasonably dexterous human being? This is after something like 5 or 6 minutes of struggle, carefully pulling and slicing with a paring knife, coaxing, cajoling and easing the flap of paper up that is glued with THE WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL GLUE. Finally – and as is the case about 50% of the time – I admitted to failure and then tried for tearing it as little as possible. Which of course immediately tore into a gaping hole in the side of my bag of flour.
Is this where we are? Is this really where technology has gotten us? We glue bags of loose flour together so that they cannot actually be opened? And I appreciate the suggestion, but no, I don’t want to transfer the flour into a bin, what do I look like, The Pioneer Woman? I’ve got the same amount of pantry space as any other non-millionaire.
This is what the dog thinks of my problems:
Can you hear that? “Flight of the Bumblebee” playing slightly off-key? Or can only just Mike the Viking and I hear it?
A few weeks ago the Viking lost his job as a destroyer of civilization in a rather spectacularly poopy way. Did you see that Facebook movie? It was like that, but minus the billions of dollars. Basically he worked day and night burninating the countryside for over a year, only to find his employer Nelsoning at him with a pink slip and a contract that cleverly left us with nothing. I think it may have been the only time that I threw the battle-axe at the servants.
The following whirlwind of life became both actual and metaphorical as new employment was established, as guests from out of the country came and went, as cars died and were towed by good friends with AAA memberships. Crohn’s flare-ups kindled and then faded, a pound of fat was lost, and then regained. Raging storms shook Southern California, and Japan bent under the weight of the earth. Such is the circle of life. And then the Viking’s Grandma River died.
She’d been sick for quite some time, but expecting someone to die and them actually dying are two different things. Grandma River was a consummate grandma, both withered and spry, sharp-witted and charmingly obtuse. Her hair was a thing to behold, the kind of hair grandmothers have in movies: long and snow-white, like a princess fast-forwarded through time by a wretched witch’s curse. But it was real! The hair, not the curse.
Awesomely unintentional butter-henge!
Many years ago Mike brought her some of the lavender shortbread we used to bake at my family’s bakery, and she loved them enough that Mike mailed her whole batches more than once. I wanted to make those shortbread today for her, mostly because her health prohibited her from eating anything like them for well over her last year of life, and if there was any time to eat a cookie in someone’s honor, that time is now.
But I don’t have any dried lavender in the house, so I made lime-coconut sugar cookies instead. I’m not sure if she’d like them as much as the lavender shortbread, but what can you do.
Skål, Grandma River!
Put the Lime in the Coconut Sugar Cookies
i put a little bit of tangerine zest in this batch, too, because i think that layering citrus always makes for a better flavor. try it – if you’re making something lemon flavored, add a quarter of the same amount of orange, too. it makes the star citrus flavor rounder, more complex. like many cookies, i like these either straight out of the oven, or stored in plastic and left until the next day, when they begin to soften a little. also, i know i found this recipe on the internet years ago, so if anyone recognizes it please say something so i can give credit.
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp. of regular table salt)
4 oz. (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. lime zest (about 1 large lime)
1/4 tsp. orange or lemon or even grapefruit zest
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/2 cup toasted fine coconut flakes
Mike the Viking has embraced American culture with a mixture of disdain and obsession, with the obsession part reserved for anything peanut butter & jelly flavored. Well, that and destroying my virtue, but it’s not as though that’s a tall hill to climb or anything
Long long ago at my family’s bakery we made a sort of hoity-toity poptart we called a Babetart (they were actually called Bab-tarts since the bakery was called Babette’s but everyone misread it as Babetart, so it stuck) and they were a pain in the fucking ass to make. They weren’t made individually, but as a large sheet. We’d carefully form one layer of a very buttery, tender shortcrust, parbake it a smidge, then smear on raspberry jam and top it with another sheet of shortcrust, this one pre-formed and frozen so it could be dropped, whole, onto the warm bottom, and then the whole thing shoved back into the oven. Later, cutting them and removing them from the pan was like a daily round of Operation where screwing up meant wasting money. They were fragile as hell and totally delicious, and quickly became the bane of everyone working. No one wanted to make them, but customers wanted hundreds of them.
Ever wondered what a puck of frozen peanut butter looked like?
And Mike innocently asks, can you make those but with peanut butter crust instead? And of course my first answer is no. IMPOSSIBLE. We never speak of it again. But he’s been really busting his hump burning villages and ruining farmland, so I got a bug up my rear to make him the damn PB&J tarts.
First, I knew I wasn’t going to make them like the Babetarts. I’d make a proper poptart shape. Second, I don’t know. I just started making crust. All I knew was that there was some way to do a peanut butter cookie and pie crust mashup, so I went at it. First, the butter I normally use in my pie crust was replaced with peanut butter. I’ve been freezing it for reasons that aren’t actually well-founded at all, and I don’t think it really needs to be done. In fact, the recipe doesn’t reflect this step, because I think it’s probably pointless. Add powdered sugar for smoothness, some egg and whole wheat for toughness… and what do we get? Something pretty good, I think. A tough dough that is pretty easy to work with, but results in a sandy, tender bite when cooked. Not too sweet so the jam can do it’s own thing.
But the trick is to get perfect rectangles of dough with no waste. Let’s walk down this tedious path together, shall we? I’ve done this a bazillion times to make the Babetarts and am currently the world’s leading authority on this technique. First, roll half of the dough roughly out to bigger than 9×13 between two layers of plastic wrap. You must use plastic wrap. You’ll see why later. My plastic wrap isn’t wide enough, so I use two sheets to make one large sheet on each side.
Starting with the top edge, peel back the plastic to expose some of the dough. Because of how oily the peanut butter is, the dough releases easily from the plastic.
By grasping the bottom sheet of plastic and firmly folding the dough over onto itself, you can get a very even, straight line like this:
You can use a ruler to assist your straight edge at this point. I don’t because I’ve truly done this hundreds of times, but it is important to get it more or less straight. Meaning don’t go all nutbag getting it perfect, but spend maybe 10 seconds getting it as straight as you can before moving on. And when you do move on, switch to a different side and do the same thing again, taking care to make sure these two edges are at as close to a right angle as you can get them. Here’s where having the 9×13 pan comes in handy, you can basically set the pan on top of the dough and lightly trace around it with the blunt edge of a butter knife to get a perfect rectangle. I know it’s hard to see in my photo and I’m sorry.
When you’ve done all four sides, remove the top sheet entirely and carefully and tightly wrap the entire rectangle up, one side at a time, like so:
Because what we’re gonna to is roll this plastic and make all the edges we folded over mush back into the dough, and even everything out. And because we were careful about how we did the plastic, the perfect 9×13 rectangle we made will stay intact while we gently roll:
See? When unwrapped it’s as good as you’re gonna get, with zero dough scraps:
Cut the sheet into 8 rectangles by cutting one long slice longways down the middle, and then the other way in half and then each half in half again. Place all 8 on a cookie sheet, then put the sheet in the fridge to hold while you repeat the entire process again with the other half of the dough.
Construction of the Miketart should be performed entirely on the sheet you’ll be baking them on, because moving these would be a total goddamn nightmare. Each bottom gets an eggwash around the edges, a big glop of thickened jam (see recipe) and a top rectangle of dough.
They bake until just cooked and barely starting to color around the edges, just how the Viking likes them.
Some slightly overfilled ones will crack a little on the surface, but that’s okay. These are homemade poptarts.
I’m not going to lie to you, these are tedious. There are a lot of steps. But the dough is fairly easy to work with and the result is pretty impressive, but it’s not like you’re making these to use as actual breakfast items in the morning. Or hell, maybe you are. In which case, uh, you do know they make hippy poptarts with all-natural ingredients now, right?
i use unadulterated peanut butter, meaning that the label ingredients read: “peanuts, salt.” if you use something like Jif or Skippy, I’m not sure how the dough will work. probably the same, but i just don’t know. if you plan on toasting them to reheat later, please use a toaster oven and not a regular toaster – they may asplode. any jam flavor works for the fillings, mike happens to prefer raspberry, but i think that grape makes for a more authentic-tasting PB&J experience. the poptart is in your court.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp vodka, icy cold if possible
for the jam filling:
8 oz (about 2/3 heaping cup) jam, any flavor
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp lemon juice
spare egg for eggwash
Anger Burger life has been all heggeldy-peggeldy lately, and I don’t like it one bit. For the first time in my life I haven’t turned completely to baking to comfort myself, and instead started walking. I already walk a lot (and as my friend Leesa will jump to tell you, at a “crazy” rate of speed but between you and me, she’s crazy slow) so I actually invested in some appropriate exercise pants since the people at the jogging park were starting to give me judgment-face as I speedwalked by them in my jeans and beat up Converse. DON’T BE JEALOUS, HATERZ.
Anyway, whatever. Baking moratorium is officially over when it’s so rainy outside that the dog poops on the back steps in order to keep from having to walk further into the rain.
Scones! Let me show them to you.
ALSO. A little back story. I try and bake things a few times before I share them here, mostly to ensure that the recipe is solid but also because when I make a virgin recipe I’m concentrating and can’t deal with photography. So, these scones, I make them a few times, I adjust the recipe a few times, and they’re perfect. Exactly what I want. And then? When I go to make them for you? I totally fuck them up. It’s so classic that I’m not even angry.
The recipe is greatly inspired by Delicious Days’ “Very British” scones, and really, they’re as solid as you can get. She claims that at a dead run she can get them into the oven in under 10 minutes, and I believe it. My mom makes a cream scone recipe that is totally delicious but also made with whipping cream and borders on too heavy for me. I know, right?! Too fatty for Sunday? These are strange times. Anyway, these are made with buttermilk and only a half a stick of butter, and the resulting bite is tender and light, somewhere between an American buttermilk biscuit and an English scone.
I found the original recipe’s inclusion of raisins and cranberries to be sort of bland, and swapped them for a stronger-tasting fruit and some sweet herbs. In goes dried apricots, fresh thyme and lemon zest. And some whole wheat flour for nuttiness. And, lastly, I like my scones to be triangular, based entirely off scones I remember getting from a coffee shop when I was a child. Delicious Days does circles. My mom pats the pile of dough into a rectangle-ish shape and cuts them into rough squares. It takes all kinds, I guess.
Oh, and how did I screw this batch up? First I added too much buttermilk by mistake. Then I forgot to add the apricots and thyme. And then I forgot to add the salt. Both were kneaded in by hand, which meant the dough was overworked by the time I formed the circle. And despite all this, they turned out great. Maybe a smidge less rise than normal, but tasted fine. Like a said, a solid recipe.
Scones of Wrath
there are two important points to these scones, and the first is to refrain from overworking the dough. it’s okay if it is barely holding itself together, that means it’ll be light and fluffy. the second important point is to use fresh herbs. fresh thyme is bright and grassy and lends itself easily to sweets, whereas dried thyme is more savory and musty. if you don’t have fresh thyme, just skip it altogether. and if you have more than one kind of thyme, use lemon thyme, which i find to be sweeter than the standard variety.
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. sugar
2oz (1/2 stick) butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup buttermilk (unflavored yogurt can replace)
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped fine
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped fine
1/2 tsp lemon zest
beat together for brushing the tops with:
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp milk
alternative fruit and herb flavoring:
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped fine
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1/2 tsp orange zest
If you haven’t yet had a chance to donate to any relief organizations, now is when you should figure out how much money you can spare this month. And if you have already donated, you’re a fool not to go.
image ©Junko Yamamoto
There’s a fierce Japanese art scene in Seattle and pretty much all of the heaviest hitters are showing here – you will truly never see all of them in the same place again, ever.
image ©Etsuko Ichikawa
No artist is receiving a commission, and Higo Variety Store will be adding a matching $10,000. I genuinely wish I was there, just to see the scope of skill on display. Not to mention the pottery!
pottery by Yuko Otaku, from my own collection
Oh my god I hope there’s a pottery addiction recovery program somewhere in the world.
To get it out of the way, I’m going to lead in by saying that after something like 8 years on the same birth control pills, I just switched brands and that’s probably why I am going to tell you about this tinted lip balm I bought and how much I love it. I can understand if you’re pissed; I am too.
Actually I’m strangely calm. I was terrified that switching to a slightly different hormone level was going to turn me into a raving nutbag but they haven’t. Turns out? The pills I’ve been taking for the last almost-decade? They were turning me into a raving nutbag. Whoops.
Anyway, let’s get this over with. And don’t make eye contact with me, there’s no need make my shame any more intense. So, I’m a lady, right? I like to wear the make-ups. I’m also not very good at it, so I tend to rely on products that are more-or-less foolproof, like mineral foundation and waterproof mascara. I like lipstick, but I tend to touch my lips a lot so even though there’s a brand that I dearly love, I rarely wear it. Lip gloss on the other hand, I hate. I generally don’t like it on other women, either. It makes me feel like a goddamn prude, but especially sparkly lipgloss? Just write BLOWJOB HOLE around your mouth already.
Luckily for me and other judgmental old women, there’s this now:
First, if you’re not newt-belly porridge pale like myself, you’re out of luck, because these are super-sheer. Anyway, I bought the color “Hibiscus” first after reading some glowing reviews online, and I loved it so much I went back and bought “Tiger Lily” and “Pink Blossom” as well.
The formula of these is spectacular. They feel very, very smooth and moisturizing and not at all sticky, and the color is sheer enough that you can sort of mindlessly slather it on without someone telling you to maybe go home and sober up a little. In fact, it’s difficult to take a photograph of their color.
Even so, I can tell when I’m wearing them. It’s just enough, perfect for daytime. No sparkle, no shimmer, and what I’d call low-gloss.
Alright, that’s enough. I’m going to go talk to my tomato plants now.
In further evidence that Anger Burger is it’s own creature I am losing control over, the site just belched up eleven never-seen-before comments ranging from recent to quite old and several direct messages to me, each from early February. So! To everyone who commented a few weeks ago and never saw their comment – I’m sorry. It’s there now.
And to the direct messages to me — some of which were breathtakingly kind — I’m terribly sorry I never got it, but I’m responding now. You see, I’m merely the caretaker of this rabid cat of a blog. I poke it with a stick and throw food its general direction, but otherwise it is on it’s own.
So, you may have heard of this food truck called Grill ‘Em All. They were on a TV show called The Great Food Truck Race and before that, a West Los Angeles drunky-drunk post-bar favorite. For perhaps both of those reasons, I’ve ignored the truck, and to my own detriment as it turns out.
Before heading to the truck, we read up on what to eat. I think the ironic hipster burger of choice is the “Behemoth,” an otherwise normal BBQ sauced burger between two grilled cheese sandwiches instead of a bun. But there’s a lot of talk about the “Witte,” a burger with bacon, onions, aioli and cream cheese, and the Viking sank his vote on that one. But then I saw it. “The Dee Snider”: a peanut butter and jelly bacon burger laced with Sriracha sauce.
Peanut butter and jelly burger!
I say this with all honesty and assurances that I wouldn’t fool you: this was one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten, and despite the patty being overcooked by several minutes. The crunchy peanut butter was the predictably good part, supplying creaminess and texture to the mess, but the jelly? And the Sriracha? Totally genius. I couldn’t make out what kind of jelly it was, but I’m going to timidly claim it was grape. And just enough hot sauce to keep the whole thing from confusing your palate. What might have been twee transforms into something complex and impossible to stop eating.
While we were standing in line (and for a mere 5 minutes, after which our food took only 5 minutes to be made GRILLED CHEESE TRUCK YOU SHOULD PAY ATTENTION) a woman in full cyclist gear including the bicycle approached me and said “Can you tell me what the deal is here?” She gestured to the long and enthusiastic line at the Grill ‘Em All truck while other nearby trucks wanted for a single customer. I explained to her the TV show, but then pointed out the occasionally bizarre menu. Her face lit up. “What are you going to get?”
“Peanut butter and jelly burger,” I told her. She laughed. I laughed too. What I didn’t know was that I would have to stop myself from going back and ordering a second one.
I’m sick over what has happened to Japan. I’ve written paragraphs of gruesome, atheistic prattle and none of it feels right. But you know what does? Talking about how awesome Japan is.
I’ll start. SUMO ORANGE. That’s right motherfuckers, the best orange you’ve never had. A couple of weeks ago I read this article in the Los Angeles Times and tucked the information away for myself later. Its a crazy article and you should read it, but basically this orange and Satsuma tangerine hybrid, marketed under the name “Dekopon”, has had a rough and scandalous time trying to make it to America. A massive, illegal grove in Southern California was even burned to the ground after it tested positive for a deadly citrus virus. Later the whole citrus industry wouldn’t even discuss the fruit with reporters, referring to the fruit under the codename “XP1”. I swear this is true! Fruit espionage, who knew.
But now that the growers have a head start on any competitors, the fruit is out. I went to my local Whole Foods and grabbed four of them at a scorching $10. Still, if they really are the best oranges ever…
So yes, they are the best oranges ever. Their marketing points are outlined to a bizarrely specific level at their website, but they aren’t wrong. Of course, the first one I peeled and ate was full of giant seeds, even though one of the Sumo’s primary marketing points is seedlessness. I haven’t encountered a seeded one since then. Despite having a very thick, knobby rind, the fruits themselves are oddly soft, which in part leads to their price. They can be easily damaged and can’t be harvested like normal oranges, and instead must be treated like peaches or other tender fruit.
The first one I peeled also worried me, because no juice leaked out as I pulled the segments apart. And I hate a dry orange like most people hate Cheney. But mysteriously, they are juicy. The little pips of orange inside the segments are large and firm, like a grapefruit, confirming Sumo’s somewhat laughable claim of:
“Eat in the Car Test” — Unlike other citrus varieties, SUMO CITRUS™ is ‘neat’ meaning no sticky mess, and hands stay dry.
But the joke is on me, ladies and gentlemen. Because I would like to eat a Sumo in the car, please. And on a plane or a train. And in the shower, and at the gynecologist’s office. I would like to eat them every hour of every day.