Anger Burger

Ideally, Nothing Happens

Posted by on May 31, 2011 at 6:19 pm

There was a time when we endeavored to remember to take the trash out because of the fruitflies.  That was before ThinkTank, aka The Thing That Lurks.  To be fair, it wasn’t kind of me to leave a chicken carcass (see that empty tinfoil up there?), garlic bread and watermelon in the trash.  Tellingly, the watermelon was thrown away because it was an especially bad one – crisp and juicy, but almost totally without sugar.  You’ll notice the dog didn’t bother with it, even though she loves fruit.

We punished her by baking a peach pie and then eating it in front of her without sharing.  According to the SPCA, this does not qualify as abuse.

Later her only dog friend, Vivian, came over for play time.  Vivian is very sweet and good-natured, and therefore the only dog that can tolerate Tank’s excessively troglodytic bullying.  In all seriousness: Tank’s method of engaging another dog in play is to run up to them, punch them in the butt (as seen below) and then bark 1 inch from their face.  Leave it to us to find a dog even more socially retarded than we are.

In news that has resulted in my declaration that I am not going to waste money on plants next year, this happened to my tomato plants:

The internet seems to think that it is caused by bacteria, and that the only way tomatoes get it is through physical contact.  Since I planted them in fresh garden soil and new pots, the prevailing belief is that the tomatoes were infected from the plant nursery.  Which makes me pretty cheesed, let me tell you.  I used to like gardening, but I’m starting to think I like catching the subway to the farmer’s market more.

This is a terrible photo, but the best I can get of the neighbor’s tree that fell over onto their gazebo on Sunday during a wind storm.  It was a beautiful day, warm and blue-skied, but windy.  We had been playing Portal 2 for something like 6 hours when there was a loud crack, the ground shook and the lights flickered.  The Viking’s response?  “It was just a trashcan or something.”  I swear he said this.

We’re talking about a man who once reached for a weapon when he heard the mailman put mail in the box.  TRUE.

So Then We’ll Call It ‘Gooey Butter Cake, Round 2′

Posted by on May 27, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Four months ago, I embarked on a piece of folly.   I wanted to try St. Louis style “gooey butter cake” and instead of making the recipe everyone and their hamster claimed was their grandmother’s recipe, I went straight for the updated New York Times version.  The result was one-dimensional, and I was pretty steamed I’d spent the better part of my day making it.  It  then became inedibly stale by the next morning, and I was fit to cut a bitch.

It’s taken me a few months, but I just now worked around to making the trailer park abomination that has captured the heart of St. Louis.  I mean that in the most flattering way, of course.  Anyway, as you see above, it’s a box of yellow cake mix that gets half a cup of melted butter and an egg.  Nothing else!  This makes a thick, cookie-like dough.

The dough becomes the bottom crust, and I worry about it.  Cake mixes already tend to brown too easily, and I’m concerned that it’s going to burn.  Whatever, what have I got to lose?  A box of Betty Crocker cake mix.  I’ll bury it under the tire-fire of heartbreak already in progress.

The top layer of the gooey butter cake is nothing more than a loose cheesecake.  Cream cheese, more egg, a pound of sugar (gurgle) and since I’m me, I added the juice of a lemon.  It’s an attempt to balance the flavors not unlike President Bush’s attempt to help the people of New Orleans after Katrina, but it’s the gesture that counts, right?

It smells like unicorn farts when cooking, make no mistake.  Sugary, milky and downright sparkly.  The resulting product is gorgeous as well, perfectly golden brown and crinkled.   And the taste?  First, a rare trait: it was much better after it came to room temperature for a few hours than it was while still warm.  Significantly so.  Straight from the oven the top layer had an unpleasantly curdy quality – have you ever ruined pastry cream by overheating it before?  It was like that.   But five hours later?

I can’t deny it, it’s abominably tasty.  An atrocious sugar bomb to be sure, offensively sweet and without character, but at the same time… The cake mix does something strange by turning a deep tan shade and tasting like the lovingly toasted sugar of a perfect campfire marshmallow.  The cream cheese topping is transparent in complexity: it’s mostly sweet, a little creamy, and distantly tart.  And together, while fodder for an instantaneous tummyache, is everything you’d love in a treat you’d get at a family reunion potluck.  Mostly embarrassing, but satisfying nevertheless.  I doubt deeply that I’d make this for myself ever again, but would I bring it to a party?  Shit yeah, I would.  And it would get eaten up.

Gooey Butter Cake
if you care to google variations on the recipe, you’ll be rewarded with a multitude of options: pumpkin, chocolate, coffee, coconut, it goes on and on.  i don’t know what else to say about it.  oh!  other than this: if i do make this again i think i could safely cut the powdered sugar in the cream cheese layer down by like 1/3.  because, damn, sister.

1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) of melted butter
3 eggs
8oz (1 box) of cream cheese
1 lb (1 box) of powdered sugar
juice of one lemon (optional and recommended)

  • Heat oven to 325°.
  • In a bowl, mix together the cake mix, butter, and 1 egg until it forms into a smooth dough.  Press the dough evenly into a greased 9×13 pan.
  • Using the same bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 2 eggs, powdered sugar and lemon juice.  To facilitate the mixing, you can microwave the cream cheese by itself for about 30 seconds on high power, or until it’s soft but not hot.
  • Pour the cream cheese mixture over the top of the cake dough and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the top of the cake is lightly browned and the edges are golden.  Let cool completely before cutting, and allow to sit for several hours for best flavor.
11 Posted in Make It So

The Time for Self Reinvention is Over

Posted by on May 25, 2011 at 8:27 pm

I had been trying to grow my bangs out, and I think that everyone can agree that it was not a success, as evidenced by a photo of what I look like first thing in the morning:

No matter how carefully I do my hair, it reverts to these amazing screwball cowlicks within a few hours.  (Also: who has tie-tie face?  I do!)  If I struggle, I can wrangle it into this horrible skullcap/toupee business:

Last night I was sitting in our livingroom, minding my own business and watching Deadliest Catch with Mike the Viking (who gets genuinely ecstatic every time Sig “Also A Norseman” Hansen comes on) when I suddenly sat up in my chair and said “I GOTTA CUT MY FUCKING HAIR!”  I waited until morning just in case it was hormones.

It wasn’t.

Shazam!  Oh man, that feels better.

Next time I say I’m going to grow my bangs out, please for the love of unicorns, someone stop me.

35 Posted in Totally Unrelated

A Friendly Reminder About Omelettes

Posted by on May 24, 2011 at 7:46 am

Another non-recipe!  This trend is alarming.  However, I am pleased to recall that omelettes exist.  If you’ve got eggs and cheese, you’re pretty much done and can sit back and relax.  Well, I mean you still have to make dinner, but you get the idea.

This was one of those times where Mike the Viking called me on my bullshit.

Mike: “What’s for dinner?”

me: “Southwest omelettes.”

Mike: “What makes them Southwest?”

me: “…Corn.”

Mike: “Corn?  That’s it?”

me: “Ancho chili powder!  Jesus, I just made it up.  What’s with the third degree?”

I never used to be this woman, but I’ve started to like salsa on my eggs.  Or Sriracha.  Or Tapatío.  Does this commonly happen with age?  That you need your eggs spicy?  Also I disliked omelettes a great deal when I was younger, but mostly because I get bored plowing through a huge pile of plain, overcooked eggs, which many omelettes tend to be.

Oh alright, here’s a recipe.

“Southwest” Omelettes
if you add cumin it’ll taste maybe a little more taco-seasoning-y, which I’m personally not into, but I’m telling you: ancho chili powder. it’s not a hot spice but it tastes like it, if that makes any sense at all.

serves 2.

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced small
1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ancho chili powder
6 eggs (3 per person)
2 tbsp milk or water
shredded cheddar cheese
chopped green onion

salsa, sour cream or other condiments to taste

  • In a nonstick frying pan, saute the onions over medium heat in the olive oil, stirring frequently, until they are starting to brown on a few sides, about 5 or more minutes.  Add the bell peppers and continue to saute until the peppers begin to brown and the onions are cooking down nicely, about another 5 minutes.  Turn down to medium-low and add the corn, garlic, salt and chili powder.  Saute gently for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the garlic has softened a little.  This is now your filling.  Set it aside in a bowl.
  • Wipe the saute pan clean (no need to wash if you can get it reasonably uncrusty with just a paper towel) when it has cooled enough to not totally hurt yourself.  While you are waiting for this, shred your cheese and set it aside.  In two small bowls, break 3 eggs into each along with 1 tablespoon of either milk or water and very gently whisk them with a fork just enough to barely blend them together.  Don’t overbeat them into a homogenous yellow slop, there’s no need.
  • Placing the pan back over medium heat, grease the surface with another little dab of olive oil  – I love using one of those refillable misters for this, because you want just enough oil around the edge of the pan to ensure that the cooked egg will be easy to handle, but not so much that it’s greasy.  If you don’t have a refillable mister, some commercial cooking spray like Pam will have to do.  Dump one serving of the eggs into the pan.  Using a spatula, move the eggs around a little at first to try and get as much exposed to the heat as possible, but stop shy of allowing any of the egg to really set and become scrambled.  Smooth the egg slurry out and let it cook for 30 seconds before adding 1/2 of the vegetable filling to one half of the side of the egg.  Top with as much shredded cheese as you’d like – we use about 1/2 cup per person.
  • With the spatula, fold the un-fillinged side of the egg over on top of the fillinged side and gently press down to ensure a seal.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover with a lid for 2 minutes.  For me this omelette is done, though there’s a danger of encountering some jiggly egg in the middle of the omelette.  I hate overcooked eggs, but I understand that many people cannot abide by the texture of uncooked egg, and if this is you: flip the omelette over to the other side and cook with the lid on for an additional 2 minutes.  You’re in danger of losing melted cheese with this technique, but you can always scrape it out of the pan and onto your plate.
  • Serve with salsa, chopped green onion and/or whatever else you want on top.
  • Immediately begin second omelette and glare at your partner while they eat their delicious dinner while you insist that they shouldn’t wait for you.
6 Posted in Food Rant, Make It So

Coral Cafe: Fail Diner

Posted by on May 23, 2011 at 7:56 am

I’ll make this short because I’m sure no one wants to read about a shitty diner.

The first fail is admittedly nit-pickety and I’m not proud of it, but I’m always disappointed to see a side of some kind of dipping sauce come out in a plastic container.  Disposable containers are for take-out.

The Viking’s chicken-fried steak was borderline inedible.  I mean, it was alright I guess.  But with chicken-fried steak I feel like it’s gotta be great and anything else is borderline inedible.  Clearly I’m going to have to make some from scratch this week to wash this one out of our memories.  But honestly: if you’re going to be frying up a steak that was obviously previously frozen, maybe put in some effort to have the gravy on top not be a congealed cap of glue before it even gets to the table?  Yes?  No?

And lastly and worstly, one of the worst milkshakes I’ve ever had.  And by “had” I mean took one sip of and then pushed aside.  It was one of the few times in my life I’ve wondered if I should send something back to the kitchen.  In this instance, I knew if I said something along the lines of “This is basically a big glass full of luke-warm Carnation Instant Breakfast and I don’t want it,” then the waitress would offer to make another one, and I’d have to say “No thanks, I’m not crazy about spitshakes, either.”

Also there was no cherry.

The Viking and I really wanted to find a good greasy spoon – I’m not saying a fancy cafe here, I’m saying a reliable diner where food isn’t fried from frozen and then kept under a hotlamp (including the milkshakes).  Los Angeles is lousy with diners, but so far in the Valley it appears that Bob’s Big Boy is the place to beat.

5 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

The False Rapture, aka Donut Hut

Posted by on May 22, 2011 at 11:11 am

Our old apartment, despite all its frustrations, was two blocks away from a 24-hour donut shop.  This was a great motivator when the dog’s evening walks were concerned.  In fact, it got to where she started pulling on a route that veered conspicuously straight to the donut place and reminded me of that joke about the woman who walks her husband’s dog while he’s unexpectedly out of town, and the dog takes her straight to door of a woman’s house down the street.  That joke is a lot less funny when it’s written out like that.

The new house, despite all its joys, is not within walking distance of donuts.  This may explain why the dog is no longer walked, and why I’ve lost five pounds.

Yesterday, after driving by Burbank’s Don-t H-t (“All that’s missing is U!”) for the dozenth time, The Viking acquiesced to my begging that he pull the battleship over so we could get some hot fried sugar.  All of this is to bring you up to speed with what I thought was going to be a regular cream-filled donut.

Now, in Los Angeles, the cream-filled is almost always filled with pastry cream or custard.  And while the filling was clearly suspiciously white and stiff, I still imagined that perhaps instead of custard they used something like whipped cream.  I think it’s a very good sign when a baked good makes you bust out laughing at the first bite, for this donut was filled with neither custard nor cream, but vanilla frosting.

Frosting!  I swear to god, it was just vegetable-shortening based vanilla frosting piped into one of the fluffiest, lightest yeast donuts I’ve ever had.  It was like biting into a pillow.  Filled with frosting.  I realize what sacrilegious fuckery this sounds like, but it was so deliciously awfully great that I ate two of them and wished I had another.

6 Posted in Eatin' Fancy

The End Was Nigh

Posted by on May 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm

The Viking and I rarely see eye to eye on anything, but we decided that if Saturday was going to be our last day on the earth as angry, unhappy atheists, then we were going to do it honestly.

And by honestly, I mean of course donuts¹, salt water taffy and yogurt-covered raisins for dinner.

And pizza for dessert.

Enjoy your delicious moments!

The rest of the day was spent playing Portal 2 and L.A. Noire.  Oh, and the dog got a bath, because if it turned there was a god who believes in genocide, I at least want the dog to be clean.

¹ More on those donuts tomorrow.

6 Posted in Drama!

It’s a Salad

Posted by on May 19, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I respect you too much to give you a recipe for a salad, so here’s a photograph instead.

I forgot about spinach salads.  My mom used to make the best spinach salad, just one of those basic wilty ones with hot bacon dressing poured over the top.  I could have eaten barrels of it.  In the late 90′s some of my friends went through this spinach salad phase where the same exact salad showed up at every single potluck: spinach, bleu cheese, walnuts and apples.  Unless they were vegan in which case there was no bleu cheese and I was probably dating Vegan “No Feelings” Joe at the time and feeling pretty uncomfortable about just about everything ever.

1 Posted in Food Rant

Salad Dressing, and Other Mysteries

Posted by on May 18, 2011 at 7:00 pm

I love making salad dressing, I really do.  Is that the most twee thing I’ve ever said, or what?  Shit, dawg.  Anyway, salad dressing.   I never use recipes, which means that for better or worse, I’ve never made the same dressing twice.  That being said, therein lies the appeal: any acid, any oil, and any billions of additions and most of the time, they are delicious.  I have formed some opinions about it.  I call it:

THE USER’S GUIDE TO SALAD DRESSING

  • Salad dressing needs to sit refrigerated for at least a few hours.  The longer it sits, the better it tastes. It may also thicken a little as it sits.

  • The ratio for vinaigrette dressing is as follows: something acidic, plus the same amount and slightly more of oil.  That’s it.  Everything else is flavorings.
  • A little good quality mustard will thicken, help emulsify and zip up any and every salad dressing without adding a mustardy flavor, unless you want a mustardy flavor, in which case you should add more.  I prefer Gulden’s Spicy Brown above all others, though a Dijon-style is a close second.

  • Same for some grated onion, garlic or best of all, shallots.  A little bit adds a deep, savory flavor dimension to even sweet dressings.  A note of caution:  very fresh dressing with grated onion or garlic will have a sharp, raw flavor.  This is good news if you love garlic and/or onions.  If you don’t then plan on letting the dressing sit for a few hours so the acid has a chance to break down the sulfurous chemicals.
  • Creamy dressings don’t need to be made with a lot of dairy – if you add two spoonfuls of plain yogurt or mayonnaise to about 1/2 cup of vinaigrette, you may be surprised to find the dressing is plenty creamy.  This is also a good way to change a vinaigrette you’re bored with: a few spoonfuls of yogurt and some fresh herbs, and it’s a different dressing.

  • Alternately, dressing made from buttermilk plus a few spoonfuls of yogurt to thicken is one of my favorites; it’s tangy and only¹ some chives and ground pepper away from a much lighter version of ranch dressing.  Which reminds me: if you do purchase storebought creamy dressing and it is too gloopy and thick, add buttermilk.
  • Avoid granulated sugar in dressings.  Honey and maple syrup are already liquid, and they add better flavor.
  • If you like fruity dressings, use fresh fruit.  Dur.  Soft fruit like raspberries, mangoes and peaches can be mashed into pulp with a fork and added to the dressing.  And they’re pretty.  HOWEVER.  They get less pretty with time, so make only as much as you’re going to eat, and only for the same day.  Alternately, make a basic vinaigrette and about an hour before using, decant a little into a small bowl and add the fruit just to the amount you’re going to eat.
  • Any vinaigrette would probably make a killer marinade for roasted or blanched vegetables, fish, chicken or tofu.  Also: pour over warm pasta, refrigerate it for a few hours and WHIZBANG pasta salad.

I actually measured the dressing made here as I went, and it wrote it down.

Sweet Orange Vinaigrette
i intend on eating this over a spinach salad with almonds, strawberries, goat cheese and red onion.

1 medium shallot, grated
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
juice from half a juicy orange (about 1/3 cup) (NOT A NAVEL ORANGE²)
1/8 tsp orange zest
1 tsp good mustard
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

  • In an jar with a tight-fitting lid, mix together everything but the olive oil by shaking the hell out of the jar.  With the lid on.
  • Add the olive oil, and repeat the shaking.  Do this with great vigor and rage.
  • Taste for seasonings.  Bear in mind that the salt will not have dissolved yet, and has probably drifted back down to the bottom.

Lastly, the restaurant secret to dressing a salad is to toss just the leaves with a small amount of dressing, by hand, just before serving.  Literally start with one big spoonful, toss, taste a leaf, add another spoonful if the dressing is not detectable.  Then plate the salad, top with extra bits, and then and only then can you drizzle with an additional spoonful of dressing.  This ensures each bite is well-balanced.  It’s silly if you’re just serving a big side salad and everyone wants different dressings, but if you’re making a salad-as-a-meal showstopper, then heed my words.  HEED.

¹ Okay, not only chives and pepper. Also salt and some grated shallot. And a little honey. And fresh parsley.
² Navel oranges have a chemical compound in them that once exposed to the outside world, turns very bitter over the next 24 hours. It’s the same chemical that makes the rinds bitter. Use any other kind of orange.

18 Posted in Food Rant, Make It So

Bannocks, Tofu, Sunscreen, Mystery Odor and Cheese Whiz

Posted by on May 16, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I’m so exhausted that I shall limply offer forth these links while I lay here on my fainting couch.

  • Like Game of Thrones? I haven’t seen the TV show, but I read all the books a few years ago, and consider them to be the height of delightful junk-food fantasy.  What could possibly make them better?  SOME CRAY-CRAY BLOGGER WHO SETS OUT TO COOK EVERY FOOD MENTIONED IN THE BOOKS.  This is one of those moments where the internet is by bestest friend in the whole wide world.  Even if you haven’t read the books or watched the TV show, it’s still a great blog in that the recipes are based on real 14th and 15th century recipes which the bloggers also update and offer as a second recipe for each posting.  I’m into the food and all, but I’d also like some of those uppers they’re on, because I can barely manage a single, familiar meal a day.
  • The Viking and I had some leftover Indian takeout from the other night, and I was worried that it wouldn’t be enough food.  To bulk it out, I panfried small cubes of tofu in a little olive oil and salt until all the sides were golden brown, and then mixed it into the various curry dishes.  This isn’t a recipe or anything, don’t get excited.  It’s more of an epiphany: fried tofu acts a lot like paneer in curry, which sounds really damn obvious when I write it out like this, but had never occurred to me before.  Now I feel way less bad about our habit of picking out all the tasty bits from the curry.
  • I got Neutrogena SPF 100 sunscreen and I hate it.  It goes on fine but leaves a very waxy white film that never goes away.  I primarily use sunscreen on my tattooed arm, and I take care to keep the tattoo fresh and vibrant.  I exfoliate the dead skin off and use potent skin moisturizers all to keep my DARKS DARK and my WHITES WHITE.  Which is why I was so deeply irritated to notice an hour after wearing it that my arm looked like the contrast got turned down by 50%.  I wiped a finger hard across the skin and was squicked out to see the white film just move around, not wipe off.  NO.  But!   The Neutrogena Liquid is great!  I think somewhere on the package it implies it’s for your face, but I’ve been using it on my arms.  And it’s a tiny bottle that is going to need replacing several times this summer, but my sunscreen madness knows no financial bounds, so whatevs.
  • I pulled an old sweatshirt out of my closet today to wear and I’ve been deeply distracted by the odor of it on my body all day.  It’s clean – but I washed it when I used a different brand of dryer sheet, and as my body warmed the fabric it slowly poofed scent out, and I keep getting whiffs of it and thinking that I can smell someone else’s perfume.  I admit that it made me wonder if I’m crazy.  Okay, getting crazier.  But the same thing happens when I switch hair conditioners, so I guess I’m being consistent.
  • Cheesesteak: Whiz or no Whiz? I fall into the Whiz category, and I made the mistake of looking up a cheesesteak purveyor on Yelp and finding that half the reviewers were furious that someone would put liquid cheese on their cheesesteak.  Some of the choicest quotes were “WHAT ARE WE, FIVE YEAR OLDS?” and “IF I WANTED FAKE CHEESE I’D GO TO ARBY’S.”  I’m not from Philly or nuthin, but I’ve always been under the impression that you either wanted Whiz or provolone.  Period.  And you know, if you didn’t want the Whiz, that’s fine, just ask for provolone.  I had no idea it was a fightable offense to prefer Whiz.  But also: why would you not want Whiz?  It’s salt sauce.  What could go wrong?