Anger Burger

Chai Winners

Posted by on Sep 6, 2010 at 8:24 pm

First randomly selected person is Rita Joiner, who has NEVER HAD CHAI, so I think perhaps we can all agree a great wrong has today been righted.

And here we have Henry, who has, I believe, entered all the giveaways to date and now finally won himself something for his tireless effort.

And there you have it.  For the rest of you, I’m sorry, but you know: comfort yourself by calling Tipu’s at 888-506-CHAI and request a sample at the very least.

And to the winners: Henry will be getting the slow brew since he requested it and Rita didn’t voice a preference (and the instant is better for a chai n00b anyway).  Huzzah!

2 Posted in Drama!

Tipu’s Chai Giveaway!

Posted by on Sep 4, 2010 at 12:50 pm

I was wondering to myself: how can I ingest more of this Tipu’s chai I’ve gotten myself addicted to?  And then, the angelic choir: cinnamon bread.  Except, not cinnamon.

Hold your horses about the giveaway, I’ll get to it in a second.  Or just scroll down now, I’m not the boss of you.

Anyway, I used the flawlessly great King Arthur Flour Cinnamon Bread recipe, replacing the cinnamon with instant chai.  Also, during the mixing process I added about a cup of chopped cherries.  Oh, and I replaced 1/2 cup of the white flour with whole wheat.  And I used a pan somewhat larger than what they recommend, hence the lack of the nice big, lofty sandwich loaf shape.

But whatever: it was totally radical.  I ate half of the entire loaf in one day and then was too full to eat dinner, which is as good an endorsement as any. I can only clutch my abdomen in gastronomic woe and wonder what kind of awesome french toast this would have made.

So anyway, you wanna have some of this chai?  The kids at Tipu’s were happy that I liked their product, and unbidden by me sent two 4oz. packs to do with as I pleased.  I debated for a long time about keeping the Slow Brew stuff, but I actually feel too guilty.  I don’t know where this misplaced guilt comes from.  I’d steal candy from a baby, but I wouldn’t keep free chai?  It’s true.

So, for those of you not familiar with the rules of these lands:

1) You may only comment once.  If you comment more than once I will delete all but one of your comments.  It’s not personal, but more than one comment will throw the odds of the random number generator.  AND THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE TWO.

2) I don’t care what you say – but!  I do want you to state if you have a preference for either of the chai varieties.  If you both have the same preference (or none) then I will randomly choose who gets what.

3) Contest closes at 8pm PST on Monday night – any comments made after 8pm will not qualify.

4) Anyone may enter, dad.

5) Leave a valid email address in the field that asks for an email address, not in the body of the comment.  If you don’t respond to my follow-up email within 48 hours if winning, I’ll give the chai to someone else.

So that’s all she wrote.  Don’t thank me, thank the internet.  And Tipu’s.  But mostly the internet, without whom we would never have met each other, you and I.

***UPDATE FROM VARADA FROM TIPU’S:

Very clever use of the Instant chai in the bread. To your fans who don’t end up winners, anyone who calls can talk me into sending a little sample of the Instant Black Chai as long as they hold out. We’re making more – as fast as we can! So anyone who wants to try it before they buy it, call me at 888-506-CHAI. LOVE your blog! You SO get our chai!!!

Man, these guys are on the Google alert ball.  Call Varada and get a free sample either way.  And just to be clear: I’m not associated with Tipu’s in any way; my first taste of their chai is from a package I purchased, and I’m getting nothing from them for my adoration.  I just genuinely love their product, and they seem like enthusiastic, friendly people.

*****CONTEST IS CLOSED!*****

Stand by for winners!

43 Posted in Drama!, Make It So

Preparing for the Apocalypse Maybe Doesn’t Start Here

Posted by on Jun 12, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Guess what’s for dinner?

Beef (flavored) vegetarian meat substitute.  From a coffee can.  Pull up a chair and grab a fork!  Or possibly a straw! Later, when you’re stinking up the chemical toilet, light one of these candles:

8 Posted in Food Rant, True Story

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

Harder than it Looks

Posted by on Apr 11, 2011 at 11:05 am

For whatever reason, cupcake preferences in America are an explosive subject.  I admit to loving my country possibly only for this reason — where else is there 1,300+ comments that range from enjoying a cupcake or WANTING THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE THEM TO DIE IN A FIERY PLANE CRASH?  The passion!  The indignant righteousness!  I love it, I can’t deny it.

I myself am an equal opportunity cupcake lover.  It’s the truth, and my shame is assuaged only by liberal applications of buttercream.  Grocery store chain cupcakes with primary-color airbrushed frosting?  Sure, I’ll take one.  Or Los Angeles’ beloved Sprinkles cupcakes, who I described as sort of mediocre and subsequently received an concerned email from the company?  What they don’t seem to understand is that I’d buy them again in a second, if I found myself suddenly inside their store.  They’re not my favorite, but in the realm of cupcakery they remain leagues from a deal-breaker.  How about Crumbs, whose offensive heaps of toppings I consider to be the epitome of amateur hour?  I’d like to eat one right now, thank you very much.

The question is, given the choice, which cupcake would I pick?  Most of the time, the answer is a Magnolia vanilla cupcake.   Let me be clear:  Magnolia is not the best bakery in town.  But the simplicity of their vanilla cupcake – petite as a bake-sale cupcake and topped with just a little too much frosting – is an inarguable pleasure.  Sure 50% of humanity disagrees with me, but I don’t mind.  The cake itself is soft and tender, and their classic butter frosting is whipped until any trace of sugar grain is obliterated.  They got the basics down pat, and that is an impressive feat.

Of course I tried to make them at home and was disappointed, but let me explain why.

The cake itself is excellent.  The recipe makes for sturdy, reliable little cupcakes that dome nicely and age well — in fact, I highly encourage anyone making a mess of these to make them a day ahead of time, allowing the cake time to mellow and the frosting time to crust over.  As basic vanilla cupcake recipes go, it’s a good one.  BUT.  As a full cake I think it would be disappointing; the cake intentionally borders on blandness, and the sturdiness that works for a cupcake would quickly become tedious in large slab of cake.  (For my favorite yellow cake recipe, I can’t say enough good things about Shirley Corriher’s “Magnificent Moist Yellow Cake” found in her book BakeWise, but also online at blogs like this one.)

But then there is the small matter of the frosting.  You see, you can’t put enough on.  You really can’t.  And you nearly can’t put enough sugar in it.  Which means that if you hesitate at all it will just not be the same, and this is what happened to me.

The frosting recipe is curious, placing all of the butter and milk in with half of the sugar and beating the thin resulting product until smooth, which at 5 minutes is probably 4 minutes longer than people would normally beat their frosting.  Sugar is then added in small batches (a total of eight cups – eight! – to frost only 24 cupcakes), with subsequent long beat times, until the texture is as creamy as though it were straight butter.  HOWEVER.  I chickened out and stopped adding sugar shy of what it needed, and though plenty sweet, didn’t have that sugary heart-palpitation inducing hit that I love about it.

AND THEN.  I didn’t put nearly enough frosting on the cupcakes.  To give you an idea of the horror that is the quantity of frosting I’m talking about, watch this video with the sound off so you don’t actually have to hear Hoda and Kathie Lee’s harpy screeches.  But I swear to god, my cupcakes just weren’t the same.  They were good, but they weren’t that 5 Year-Old’s Birthday Party perfect that I love about Magnolia’s vanilla cupcakes.

Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes.  Someone should, because I sure don’t.

13 Posted in Food Rant

Why the Food Network Isn’t Trying to Reach Me

Posted by on Feb 28, 2011 at 1:18 pm

It may surprise you to learn that I’m not a fan of food-focused reality TV shows.  I am genuinely distracted at what seem to be arbitrary rules, so that even with the shows I can watch, like Chopped, I find myself more involved in the mechanism of the show than with the actual content.

As with all reality TV, I am profoundly distracted by what I know are coached dramas.  Keeping with the Chopped example, the contestants frequently blurt out personal hardships and dreams in an attempt to garner judge’s favor.  It’s not at all uncommon for an otherwise douchbaggy, competitive moron to suddenly burst into tears while telling a judge about their mother — and I assure you, it is never sincere.   Of course, our favorite thing of all to lose our minds over: judge Scott Conant, who cannot stand the taste of onions¹, dislikes meatballs and doesn’t like black pepper.

And don’t even get me started on how much I can’t watch Bobby Flay, or as Anger Burger friend Aaron put it:

“I’d fight Flay. That guy just seems like a dick.  I always thought the premise of ‘Throwdown’ was real shitty: ‘Hey we want to do a feature on you. Psych! Bobby Flay is here to embarrass you in front of your friends and family.’”

I have to struggle with turning the channel when he’s chosen to compete on Iron Chef America, in all his tantrummy, equipment-smashing glory, and if he ever gets through a competition without insulting, berating or otherwise bullying his sous chef, I’ll eat my hat².

And non-food related reality contest shows?  I can’t watch them at all.  I cannot watch American Idol, not even a minute of it.  So imagine my total shuddering, nightmare-inducing discovery of the new NBC show America’s Next Great Restaurant, the final amalgamation of all things I find terrifying and repugnant about food media.  Bullshit contests!  Lauding of things with negative social and economic values (YOU WIN A CHAIN RESTAURANT, FOR FUCK’S SAKE)!  Bobby Flay!  The CEO of Chipotle, a company recently under fire for “flushing out” all of their illegally employed Mexican kitchen staff!  That Australian guy I don’t actually have a problem with!  And lastly, this terrible ad:

And in case you’re not sure why I hate it, let me adjust it a little to how I normally see this ad on billboards every day:

¹ And who later claimed in an interview that his repeated complaints against onions in the show were  “a misunderstanding about some of the dialogue” as though we’d believe that his near-Hulk-rage was merely a semantics gaffe.
² In preparation for the event, I will construct a hat made  of cookies.

7 Posted in Drama!, Pet Peeves

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.

We’re Doing This Again

Posted by on Nov 24, 2010 at 9:58 pm

The thing where we buy stuff for people.  My ideas from last year still stand, but here are some new ones.  And by “new ones” I mean stuff I mostly already told you about.

1. Epic Rad Handmade Broom:

Again, it’s both functional and beautiful, and who doesn’t need a broom?  If the idea of a plain broom still strikes you as boring, go and look at her more unusual ones, like the cobweb broom or the turkey wing broom.  There’s even a broom for hobbits children, which is a fine idea if you know one of those obsessive compulsive kids.

2. Stromondo Marzipan:

By far my most favoritest marzipan in the world.  I’ve written an ode before, and it still stands.

Stromondo is so finely milled that it is creamy like caramel — I’ve really never found anything else like it, anywhere.  It was unavailable for most of this year for some horrible, terrible reason, but it’s back! It is currently unavailable online, as it often is, but when it shows up you should nab it.  It’s pricey, but I think that’s what part of what makes it a good gift for someone who likes to bake.  Or likes to eat things that are delicious.

3. Play Food From IKEA:

I walked by this vegetable basket at IKEA and stopped dead in my tracks.  You can’t see from the photo,  but the details are spot-on.   The mushrooms are the best, they really look like shiitakes, and there’s a head of garlic hidden in there too.  The leek has little root bits and the outer lettuce leaves detach.  All of this and a sturdy little corduroy basket for $8.  Yep, eight bucks.  I got the veggies for my niece, as well as the equally awesome breakfast set, which was only FIVE DOLLARS.  But here’s the thing: you don’t need to know a kid to get these.  I think the vegetables or the fruit set would look rad in a nice crystal or wooden bowl in the middle of a dining table for adults.  Mike the Viking thinks the breakfast set would look great sewn onto a hat and formally put in a request for one.

The bummer is that they are not currently available for sale online, so if you don’t live near an IKEA you’re out of luck.

4. Uh, Something I Just Now Realized I Can’t Tell You About:

Because I’m getting it for my sister.  Hi Layla! Phew, that was close.  Also: don’t let your daughter see item #3.

5. Tipu’s Chai:

If you’re a regular reader then you’ve already seen the effusive gush of mutual hand-jobbery that went down between Tipu’s Chai and myself.

But the reminder is: it was for good damn reason.  The chai is by far the best I’ve had, and their microgrinding process for making “instant” chai is unparalleled.  If you know someone who likes chai already, this is a no-brainer.  If they are avid tea drinkers, it’s still a no-brainer.  If they’ve never even tried chai, now’s the time to start them on it.  Tell Tipu’s that Anger Burger sent you in the comment field when you order and they’ll refund a small percentage of your payment and try the discount code “chailove” “blackchaifriday”.  (Thanks Maven!).

6. LÄMPLIG cutting board(s) from IKEA:

Again – appears to not be available online, so sorry to everyone not near an IKEA.  But for those who are, and in particular, those who have poor counter surfaces, you are in some serious luck.  At $10 each, I’m not even sure you can buy the pine they’re made of for cheaper at the lumber store.

The boards have a moat/drain on one side and a lip on one edge, but that’s not why I got them for myself.  As you can see, when flipped over they make for a $20 instant farmhouse-style counter top.  The lip catches on the tile edges and hold them more or less in place, and after several soakings in mineral oil the wood is gorgeous and practically waterproof.

It’s probably for the best that you can’t order them online, because when I went to buy these it took me almost 10 minutes to find two that matched in color.  The range of tones and colors was astounding – some boards were almost white, some were almost black, some were even-colored all over, and few, like mine, were a pleasant mix of shades.  They are also HEAVY and hoisting the boards around while I searched for matches was a total pain in the ass.

Do you know someone with tile or otherwise unsuitable kitchen counters?  LÄMPLIG to the rescue.  And you – you’re a good friend.

***

What about the rest of you?  Any great ideas?  Things you can’t live without?  Because I’ve got a few family members I can’t think of gifts for, and it’s killing me.  KILLING ME.  It’s not really killing me, but I’m a little distraught over it.

16 Posted in Totally Unrelated

Victory Pie

Posted by on Oct 12, 2010 at 4:10 pm

There are more troubles yet on the horizon (and I’m not even talking about the physical horror of moving), but we keep telling ourselves that this time next month we’ll be lounging around on cardboard boxes in our very own¹ backyard.  And that goes a lot towards maintaining sanity, let me tell you.  In the meantime, there’s Victory Pie.

That would be my mom’s pear and almond pie, an almost-cake, almost-custard torte that always seems like its going to fail but always works out in the end – a suitable metaphor for our first-world dramas.

The crust is nothing more than a basic sugar cookie dough, and the frosting-like texture requires it to be smeared into place rather than rolled or pressed.  I personally prefer to use my fingers rather than a utensil, patting up the sides and using a final swoop around the top edge to lightly clean it up.  The only part that needs care is the inner corner – it can get too thick very easily, making that edge-end bite of the finished pie a bit dry and doughy.

The filling couldn’t be much easier, particularly if you have a food processor.  But the other twist of the recipe is that my mom always used canned pears, the highest quality you can find (lately, that would be Trader Joe’s).

It bakes until set like a custard.  The fragrance of it is painful, like a giant almond cookie.  Which it is, I guess.

The trick with cutting it is to slice down the center of each pear so that everyone gets an exposed piece.  The pie is much, much better if allowed to sit at room temperature for a few hours so that the crust softens a little and the pear weeps a little and every ingredient has a chance to share its feelings with the other ingredients and before long becomes a hippie commune of flavor.

I used to love this pie when I was younger, but these days I find it a little too sweet and one-note.  I still love it, but with more of an edge of nostalgia than I used to have.   On the other hand, the Viking finds the pie to be pure, unadulterated ambrosia.  To reflect these tastes, the recipe has some options for tweaking the flavors.

Victory Pie
it seems a little tricky, but it’s an easy and impressive dessert to make. the only finicky part is that you must use a 10″ pie or tart pan – any smaller and the pie will be too thick and the crust will overbrown before the middle sets. if you don’t have a 10″ pan, don’t fear – set aside a small quantity of both the crust and the filling and make a little single-serving pie on the side.  remember, then, to make the main pie shallower in the pan.

for the crust:
1 1/4 C flour
3/4 C confectioners sugar
5.5 oz (1 stick plus 3 Tbsp) butter, room temperature
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt

for the almond filling:
4 oz (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1/2 C sugar (this can be reduced to 1/3 C)
4.5 oz almond paste/marzipan (I highly recommend Stramondo)
3 Tbsp flour
4 eggs
1 Tbsp lemon juice

6 – 8 canned pear halves (usually 2-3 cans of pears or 1 TJ’s jar)

for alternate pears:
3 large, ripe but firm Bosc pears
the juice of one lemon
water
(also, consider adding flavoring agents like orange or lemon peel, earl gray tea, chai spices or anything else that would go nicely with almond)

  • First, if you want the pears to be less sweet or do not like the idea of using canned pears, you can poach your own in a little bit of water and lemon juice.  Peel and cut the pears in half and then do your best to core them out.  A spoon works well if the knifework seems scary to you.  In medium saucepan, fill halfway with water and add the lemon juice.  Bring to a simmer, add the pears (adding more water if there isn’t enough to cover them), and allow to simmer for 15 minutes, taking care to gently push the pears around to ensure even cooking.  Remove from heat, drain, and set out on paper towels to cool while you make the rest of the pie.
  • Heat oven to 350°.
  • To make the crust, place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until it is a smooth dough the texture of thick frosting.  If you do not have a processor, a hand-blender or stand mixer works just fine.  (Don’t clean the processor, just set it aside.)
  • Smear the dough into a 10″ pie or tart pan, using your fingers to evenly spread around the edges.  If it seems way too sticky and goopy and you’re going nuts, refrigerate the whole thing for about 10 minutes (or freeze for 5) and then try again.
  • In the same dirty food processor bowl (or a blender, if you do not have a processor), add these ingredients for the filling: the butter, the sugar and the marzipan cut or broken into smaller pieces.  Blitz until smooth.  This may take a little while since the marzipan will fight it, but keep going until it’s all broken down.  Then add the remaining filling ingredients and blitz until just mixed.
  • In the bottom of the pie, pour about 1/3 of the filling and shake and tilt to evenly spread.  Over this filling, place the pears cut side down in a circle, butt ends toward the edge of the pie, necks towards the center.  Pour the rest of the filling around them, using a spoon to encourage the filling to settle evenly.
  • Bake in middle of oven for 35-60 minutes, depending on your oven. Place a tinfoil-covered baking sheet in the rack under your pie because sometimes the butter oil bubbles out and drips from the pie which is very smoky and very hard to clean from the bottom of your oven.   When the pie is done, the middle may not brown even though the filling is set, so keep testing the middle with a sharp knife tip – it will be done when the knife leaves a clear slit in the middle with no filling flowing back in to the cut (a little filling may stick to the knife, but not a lot).
  • If you want the middle nicely browned, place pie under the broiler for ABOUT ONE MINUTE, NEVER TAKING YOUR EYES FROM IT.
  • Allow to cool at room temperature before serving.  Will be best if left for 5 or 6 hours before serving.
  • Because of the nature of this pie, it should really be eaten up in 24 hours. Otherwise, it should be refrigerated and won’t be nearly as tasty.

¹ And of course by “very own” I mean “rental”.

14 Posted in Make It So

Did Somebody Say Largest Korean Population of Koreans Outside of Korea?

Posted by on Sep 12, 2010 at 9:31 am

I vaguely remembered that my friend Yuko was a big Korean food fan, and her husband, Sol, confirmed this.  The deal was sealed.  We were going to venture somewhere the Viking had expressed a distinct disinclination¹ to go, and for good reasons: they specialize in soup made of tofu.

But not before we both separately told them that Los Angeles’ Koreatown had the largest population of Koreans outside of Korea.  And then we told them again.  And again.  Because it is the only fact we know about Koreatown.

But first, even Vikings love pickled spicy things.  Good for everyone’s digestion.

Ahhh, there she is.  Soondufu, the sizzling, homemade fresh silken tofu soup riddled with seafood and meat bits and rich, spicy sauce.  You crack an egg in her and she looks into your soul like the baleful eye of Smaug.

The boys ordered a meat pile to preserve their vital male fluids.

And then the baby stole everyone’s rice when they weren’t looking and carefully applied it to her face and shirt.  We discussed making her a shirt with a pattern that mimics rice so this isn’t such an issue in the future.  Clothing makers, please get on this.

In the cab to the restaurant, the elder brother declared (after the rest of his family had napped) that he hadn’t napped because, of course, he was not tired.  Less than 10 seconds later his head fell forward and he remained that way while his dad extracted him from the cab, carried him into the restaurant, nestled him into a chair and then ordered a feasting-table’s worth of food.  After two hours of eating and traveling, back at the apartment he declared “I’M HUNGRY!”

The aftermath is gruesome.  The ladies working at So Kong Dong were so enamored with the baby that they kept bringing extra little things for her, including packets of seaweed snacks.  They loved her.  Each time she dropped a stainless steel chopstick they’d run over with another one, laughing at the joy of it.  I swear, it was like we brought the baby Dalai Lama into a Buddhist restaurant.  Ah, the holy baby has dumped her tea all over a pile of napkins!  We are blessed.

Wait a minute.  I think they’re onto something.

Mike said the truest thing of the night, which was “Be careful, or those kids are going to be child stars.”   Whereas all I could think was, “How hard would it be for me to make that outfit for myself?”

¹ “Odin sier nei eller dø!”

And then the baby stole everyone’s rice when they weren’t looking and carefully applied it to her

2 Posted in Eatin' Fancy