Anger Burger

In Which We Discuss Toilets

Posted by on May 30, 2012 at 8:22 am

I haven’t been discussing Crohn’s disease much lately, mostly because I don’t have anything new to say about it; I am sick some times, and not others.  When I am sick it isn’t critical (and in this I am profoundly lucky, and I know it).  I still don’t have health insurance, and therefore do not pursue treatment.

But something happened last Saturday that made me think about what I thought was a carefree, Crohn’s-having lifestyle.  I realized that what I’d actually done was to craft an intricate and rigid framework to live within, and totally without realizing it.  Anyone with bathroom issues does this, but I know where the bathrooms are in each and every store, and which are preferable.

  • The Trader Joe’s bathroom is easy access but a single-stall and people will rattle the door while you use it.  B-
  • The bathroom at Top Foods is easy access and large enough to never have a wait, but are sometimes closed for cleaning and are next to the employee entrance and there are often workers standing outside the door chit-chatting. B+
  • The Co-Op is no good on almost every level. D+
  • The bathroom at my work is off the main work floor, which means that we keep no secrets from each other.  We know one another’s poop schedules and occasionally comment on them.  No score, as it is like going to the toilet at your friend’s house.  (Super F from anyone else.)
  • The book store requires that you ask for a key, and then the bathroom is an uncomfortably large, echoey single-staller, and people rattle the door, giving rise to that tension that it’s not really locked well enough and someone is going to open the door straight to the bookselling floor and there you’ll be, pants dropped around your ankles, the sound of a hellmouth opening beneath you. F
  • Target’s bathrooms are perfectly accessible, perfectly large and always, always open. A+

Except for this last Saturday, when they weren’t.

Whatever it was that required Target to close their toilets on a busy Saturday I cannot say, but the look of horror on my face must have been sufficient for a staff passerby to approach me and say “There’s a restroom next to the pharmacy!”  Really?  I was aghast.  How could I not have known of a second toilet option at Target?

Of course the pharmacy was like 100 miles away on the other side of the store, the side I’d just walked from after abandoning all my purchases in the sudden and urgent need to find a toilet.  (As an aside, I truly expect to be accused of shoplifting one of these days for my tendency to try and hide my purchases-to-be in a store just before using the toilet, since I’ve tried just leaving them outside the bathroom and come out to find them partially or all taken away.)  Back at the pharmacy I found it: a single-stall handicap access toilet recessed back in the blood pressure monitor area.  Well!  I had no idea!  Also: there was a line to use it.

I sat on a nearby bench and waited, focusing on remaining calm and loose.  If I tense, the urge increases.  While I sat and my turn came, a young girl of maybe eight darted by me and into the bathroom as her father shouted “Jenny! You’re cutting in line!”  He apologized to me, genuinely embarrassed, and I told him I understood.  I did and I didn’t.  I get that she really had to go.  But I’m 32 and if anyone is pissing or shitting themselves in Target, it is her.

I made it safely to the bathroom, but had plenty of time to wonder about my self-brainwashing.  I had essentially forgotten that I still had this issue.  I rarely go places where I can’t easily find a bathroom and in the back of my mind, I know which ones to hedge my bets on.  I swing between finding it frustrating and comforting that I could achieve a mental place where I forget that I have agonizing bowel movements that strike without warning, and leave me exhausted and shaking, headachy and weak for hours afterwards.  So I guess I still have Crohn’s disease.

17 Posted in Crohn's disease

The Cake is a Lie

Posted by on May 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm

In this strange world, I get emails from PR companies who want to send me free sardines.  And I accept, because it’s the morning and I’m tired and also, free sardines.  They suggest that maybe Anger Burger wants to try out some of the great recipes that King Oscar has on their website?  Sure, whatever.  Canned fish.  Sounds like something I’d fall for.

After I had my coffee, I went to the King Oscar website and found that there are, in fact, many interesting recipes.  Key word: interesting.  But still.  Avocado bowls with lofoten pâté?  What the hell is lofoten pâté?  King Oscar isn’t telling, and the internet is suspiciously silent on it as well.  But also, a wide variety of salads with fish thrown in for kicks, like the Ko Royal Tuna Salad; walnut, olive and tuna pasta salad?  Sure, what the hell.

But when the package arrived, I found my plans had altered, because instead of the variety of stinky tinned delights I’d thought were headed my way, I got three packages of sardines.  Two standard, one boneless and skinless (which seems petty, because by the time you eat them they’re basically denuded into fish paste anyway).

Okay, so.  Just sardines.  And then I saw it.

Sardine sushi.

You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!   Oh shit.  Okay.  This is what I have to do.

I like sardines.  I buy them on occasion, and I’d like the people at King Oscar (and you, I suppose) to know that King Oscar brand sardines are of a very fine quality.  I just don’t think you should make sushi out of them.  This is also the moment where I realized I’d lost my sushi rolling mat.

Still, I’m not new to the sushi, so off we went.  The dog lost her fucking dogmind while I was making the sushi, mostly because she’s allowed to have cooked rice, and secondly because something dead and from the sea was in the kitchen, which is basically dog Christmas.

This is not great sushi.  It was okay.  Rice and seaweed and cucumber can go a long way toward convincing your brain that it is indeed sushi, but I just couldn’t shake the apocalypse birthday feeling: it’s been so long since anyone had real sushi, that when you bring this out surprise, we found a package of seaweed! no one can remember what real sushi tasted like and when you all eat this everyone gets quiet and teary and can’t swallow because they’re pretty sure this is what sushi used to taste like, but with each chew everyone gets one mental process closer to comprehending that we will never have real sushi again.

First four people who want a coupon for a free King Oscar product let me know, use your real email address in the comments field box that asks for your email, not the actual comment area, I’ll email you and ask you in private where I should mail the coupon to.

16 Posted in Food Rant

Pasta alla Homer Simpson

Posted by on May 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm

I’ve been getting many kind emails from people remarking that they are worried about me, and I appreciate it greatly.  Today Hannah wrote me:

“I sense that this sad plague hasn’t left you. It’s going to be okay! Everything will work out!”

Which is very succinct.  And true.  Sad plague is still here.  And it will all be okay, but for now my coping mechanism is knitting and pizza.  And watching Sister Wives. Which, if anyone wants to discuss, I’d love to.  Robyn seems like such an ill fit!  Does she ever stop crying?!  And Meri should have her own show anyway.

I feel so tantrummy about the oven, but it’s a metaphor for a bigger picture: after much waiting and financial commitment, we feel we made a stupid decision by renting the house we did.  More specifically, from the person we did.  We feel tricked and cheated.  We are discouraged that we work very hard and are still stuck in this college-years loop of rental houses with unscrupulous landlords.  I had really thought we’d rent this house for a few years while one of us tried to get a job ‘real’ enough that our credit union wouldn’t blow their Starbucks out their noses while laughing at our request for a home loan, but I can already tell you that I don’t want to give this guy any more rent money than is legally required by our lease, which means we’ll lose money, again, moving, again, in another year¹.

Anyway, blah blah fuckety blah.

Pasta!

On Saturday my mom and neice and I went to a congratulatory dinner for a cousin of mine, to Brewery City Pizza.  This requires some quick backstory.  I’m lying about the quick part.

When I was little and we were poor, we rarely but sometimes we treated to pizza out at Brewery City (which in later years tried to just be BCP, but you know: fuck you).  This always included pitchers of root beer, one of the few times that I not only had soda, but in an unmonitored quantity.  So I jacked my blood sugar up to Willy Wonka levels and happily munched on pizza.  Good memories.

Now?  BCP, which I will now allow them to call themselves, is a sad, meandering, aimless restaurant that serves some pizza but also has a large menu of “flatbreads” and pasta and burgers and now wok-fried edamame appetizers, which I think we can agree is not only the kiss of death, but the teeth-knocking, stringy-slobbered, totally drunk not in that refreshing you-just-drank-a-little-beer way but in the not-making-sense-drunk-and-smoked-a-whole-pack-of-cigarettes-and-threw-up-a-few-hours-ago-and-kept-drinking kind of way kiss of death.  And while our family does not compose a unit of the sharpest knives in the drawer, we still shouldn’t have to all stand around the menu board for over 15 minutes, unable to make sense of how to order, what to order, or how much food is involved.

Conclusion: don’t go there.  However!  My mom ordered pasta with browned butter and mizithra cheese, also known to some as Pasta alla Homer.  Simpson? my dad asked.  No, Iliad.  But let’s just go with Simpson.

Her pasta was pretty decent, but when I got home and told Mike the Viking about it he smashed some crockery and when I woke up from my head injury, told me he loved Pasta alla Homer and why didn’t I ever make it for him?  So I made it.

Browning the butter is the hardest part, and it isn’t hard.  You go slow, and it toasts to nutty perfection while the pasta is cooking.  The hardest part about it is actually that you need at least half a stick of butter for two people, which may be a little difficult to justify depending on how tight your pants are.  And mine are pretty tight lately.

Food styling has abandoned me.  I was feeling okay about it – it’s just a pile of white pasta in a bowl, and then realized later as I edited photos that I took a photograph of the one bowl that has a big chip in it.  Who cares?  Not you.  And thank you for that.

Everything else about life is grand.  The house, outside the Oven Incident (is it an incident if it remains ongoing?) is beautiful and old and pretty ideal for us.  We have new neighbors in back and they are nice.

I’ve started my annual gardening marathon.  This will last a few weeks until the plants begin to die, and then I will stop bothering with them until next year, around this time, when I will freshly forget that I can’t garden.  My friend Yuko’s little ceramic pot got a new resident.  I killed the last one.  Which you may have already guessed.

Lastly:

Pasta alla Homer Simpson
mizithra is like a very, very dry feta cheese that is only good for grating over pasta, but that’s a pretty good use, so go ahead and invest in a chunk.  otherwise, the recipe is really remedial math for cooking: if you can’t make Pasta alla Homer, I worry about your commitment to Sparkle Motion.

1/2 package of spaghetti
1/2 stick butter
about 1 oz grated mizithra, more to taste
fresh sage, roughly chopped, about 10 leaves or more to taste
salt

  • Bring a pot of water to boil.  When it begins to boil, add a very large pinch of salt.  Several large pinches.  Pasta water should taste like sea water.  Add your pasta.
  • Meanwhile, in a saute pan, melt the butter over low heat.  If at all possible, use a silvery-bottomed pan so you monitor the butter browning.  It will be hell in a dark, non-stick pan.  Sorry.  The butter will not do anything for a long time, but once it starts to brown it will progress fairly quickly.  If you ever need to walk away from it, take it off the heat.
  • Around the time your pasta is done, the butter will be browned.  It can be pretty brown – not too dark like chocolate, but not too pale either.  The color in my pan up there is a little bit before I stopped cooking it.  Toss the chopped sage into the butter, which will cause it to foam up a little, and then using tongs or a pasta spoon, transfer the cooked pasta into the saute pan of butter and sage.  Keep the heat on in the pan, but turn the heat off on the pot of pasta water.  Don’t worry about draining the pasta well before it goes into the pan – the water will cook off very quickly, and in fact you want it in there with it to keep it all from sticking.    When all the pasta is in the pan, toss evenly to coat, and let the pasta cook a little and absorb the butter and remaining water, about two or three more minutes.
  • Turn the heat off, add the grated mizithra and toss to distribute.  Mizithra doesn’t melt, but it will stick to the spoon or tongs, so scrape it off periodically to get it back into the pasta.
  • Serve with extra sage and more cheese if you want, otherwise eat up.

¹A judge would most certainly grant us breaking our lease without financial repercussions based on the shit our landlord has pulled, but I simply cannot emotionally comprehend the idea of moving again so soon. It is too profoundly heinous.

37 Posted in Make It So

Happy Place

Posted by on May 13, 2012 at 10:45 am

Let’s go there.

This is a tiny taco salad in a dog bowl.

For a very lucky dog, for no real reason at all other than it’s nice to see someone be totally happy and unworried.

I’d be that crazy dog lady that carried her dog everywhere if Thinktank wasn’t 30 pounds.  Instead I wrap her in crochet blankets my mom made me and feed her taco salad.

I’d say it was cheap entertainment, but to date Tank is the single largest financial investment of my life.  And of course I’d do it a million times over, if I had to.  Who knew I’d love a barfing machine this much?

6 Posted in Totally Unrelated

Extreme Home Make-Under: Legal Threats Edition

Posted by on May 12, 2012 at 11:25 am

I’ve been trying to keep my trap shut, because in my experience, all internet roads lead home.  To put it another way: many years ago I had an anonymous work blog that was a minor hit.  I worked in a cafe, and since baristas are gossipy bitches by nature, before I knew it my stupid little Typepad blog was racking in some respectable stats.  By the end, coffee industry people on the East Coast knew about my blog, and Barista Magazine was contacting me, trying to dredge information.

Around that time I was coincidentally quitting the job and moving out of the state, so the ride was over, but for other reasons as well: I’d been found out.  Not that it was a well-kept secret or anything, but I heard through friends who still worked for the company that higher-ups had been told of my blog, and in particular, one training manager whom I had been particularly mean to.  It was complicated and double-edged; nothing I had said was untrue, and our employers really were (and are still) ill-focused, corporate-minded and petty and at the time I considered him to be one of them.  But that doesn’t excuse that I created a forum in which I could mock someone without recourse, someone who was also just trying to work at a career that they loved, in an environment that was difficult at best.

So of course, now he is the boss of the current coffee company of my choice, and the employer of one of my best friends, and now I see him several times a week as I stumble, blind with rage and sleepiness, to get my morning coffee on my way to work.  But I asked him for a meeting and apologized to him and now we say hello to each other but if I offered him half of a BFF pendant I’m certain he’d refuse it.

Why this long-ass story?  Because I have been debating deeply further discussing the issue that my new landlord has illegally kept us without a stove for now over five weeks.  He has, rather than hire a repair person, sent a part of the oven off to Canada for repair, only to be told several weeks later that they couldn’t, and then, this week, to acquire an even older stove off Craigslist, install it, and then discover that it too doesn’t work.  Not that I wanted it to, because it honestly would be the shittiest stove of any rental I’ve rented in my entire adult life of renting.

Broken stove #2 now sits on our porch, because we are now hillbillies.

There is so much I want to say about this here, but I keep reining myself in, thinking about the legalities.  What if we go to court with this guy?  Will my bitter name-calling be thrown back in my face?  Are we going to have to move again?  The sneaking thought keeps coming back.  Are we going to have to move again?  Can this guy really be so irrational and terrible that he won’t just replace the fucking oven with a reasonable one?  I’m tired of thinking about this.  I’m tired of not having my coping mechanisms available to me: I want to bake bread.  I want to roast vegetables.  I want to try the “hamburger” flavor you-bake pizza from Papa Murphy’s.  I want to make a pie with the rhubarb I had been so eagerly awaiting this spring, rhubarb which will now soon be gone from the markets.  I want to not be tricked by people.

 

10 Posted in Drama!