Anger Burger

LAURA, YOU DO WIN SOMETHING SOMETIMES, OR ONCE ANYWAY

Posted by on Oct 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Congratulations Laura “I Never Win Anything”, you won the Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain cookbook giveaway.  Very exciting.  Also it is raining here and I slept for ten hours last night and everything seems desaturated of color and sound.

Today I am going to make Mike his beloved damned Welsh cakes (which, on record, I historically dislike, seeing as that I am a rational person with taste and Welsh cakes are dry pucks of anti-flavor) (it did not escape my notice that Ann Romney makes them for her family) and experiment with roasting chestnuts.  More on both topics later.

In the meantime, thanks to everyone for surfacing from your various caves to participate in the giveaway, and I’d also like to earnestly thank Lisa at TLC Book Tours, who took a big risk in hoping that I would not just take photos of Mr. Oliver’s book held in front of my dog’s butt.

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4 Posted in Drama!

Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain Book Review and Giveaway

Posted by on Oct 10, 2012 at 4:40 am

OK so guess what!  This lady was like, hey, do you want to read this cookbook and I was like yes I do!  And then she was all do you want to give someone a copy and I was like yes also!

Alright, serious hats¹.  Rarely have I sat down with a cookbook and analyzed it, cover to cover, for balance.  I have never cooked from a recipe without changing things to my taste, except for the rare baked good that intimidates me too much.  For someone to ask, earnestly, can you review this?  Empirically?  I find myself hesitating.  Can I?  Is it possible for me to avoid hyperbole?  NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS.

So here is the experiment.  I read Jamie Oliver’s newest cookbook, Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain, from cover to cover.  I made several recipes without changing a thing.  Recently I have had a rash of magazine recipes (not of Mr. Oliver’s) turn out to be written sloppily and likely without having been tested before print (FINE COOKING I AM LOOKING AT YOU), and despite this failure fresh in my mind, I stood my ground: to test this book, for realses, by doing exactly what it instructs.

So far?  Three out of three recipes tested are high-five level great.  The kitchen felt like an 80′s movie success montage.  We are training and getting stronger!

Which is not to say the book didn’t earn some side-eye from me.  It’s a handsome book – no dustcover, good styling.  But do I need to be told how to make a sausage sandwich? The chaper on vegetables is little more than how to cook asparagus and how to fry some vegetables with meat. I mean, I understand this is supposed to be traditional British food, and you can’t pull a pony out of a duck’s ass, but one can dream.  And there are repeats here: kedegree and half a dozen variants of mashed potato in The Naked Chef, steak sarnie and toad in the hole in Happy Days with the Naked Chef — I am sure there are more, but it wasn’t intended to be a vicious point.  Also those are the only two other Jamie Oliver cookbooks I own.

Lastly, there are some hard-to-find ingredients as well: Atora suet, ginger in syrup, and strawberry blancmange powder as examples.  I am not sure if this adds a pleasant authenticity to the book (at this writing, I lean towards this sentiment) or if I find it a bothersome and intentional effort at making the book foodie-er.

Despite this I have a good-sized checklist of things I want to make from this book, a longer list than the average cookbook gets.  And as I mentioned, the best endorsement I can offer: In the short few days I’ve had the book, we have found every recipe a repeat-worthy success.  I find myself wanting to find strawberry blancmange powder, whatever the hell it is.  The fact is that I like Mr. Oliver, or at least his ghostwriter, stylist and photographer.  Recipes are not overinstructed, the flavors are never rebooted or tweaked for any reason other than to make the recipe actually better (toad in the whole is a great example – it may be a repeat recipe, but it is changed, and the reason for the change it clearly communicated).  It is, despite my best efforts to be a grouch, a solid cookbook.

SO YOU WANT A COPY FOR YOURSELF:

Make a comment in this post.  Do not make more than one comment.  Only US and Canadian entries only (not my preference, but they’re the ones shipping the book – sorry overseas buddies). Contest ends 12pm Saturday the 13th, Pacific Standard Time.  I will get your information from you and pass it along to the book promo people, who will ship you the book.  Godspeed.

YOU ARE TOO LATE.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE:

Over the next several days there will be a few recipe reviews.  That’s all.  I didn’t mean to make it sound more exciting than it is.

¹ Mine looks like the Pope’s.  Mike the Viking’s is made of metal, obviously.

56 Posted in Drama!, Food Rant

Outtake

Posted by on Oct 7, 2012 at 11:23 am

When we were deciding whether or not to rent this house, one of the very first things I asked the landlord was “There aren’t any bands that practice nearby, are there?”  He pointed out each house and the names of the owners, and their careers and his guesses at their ages.  No one was the house band type.

Which means that of course the grown-ass, professional career guy neighbor directly next door to us hosts a band practice in his basement at least once a week.

It is the drummer that really bothers me, the hour-after-hour repeat of the same beats and rolls.  He got one of those wooden cowbell things not long ago, of all the heinous tragedies.  We keep telling ourselves we are going to go over there to say something, but really, what can we say?  Hi, my name is Sunday, we live next door to you?  We borrowed your lawn mower the first week we moved in and you were really nice about it?  Yeah, I want to shoot myself in the face with a heroin gun because I cannot fucking stand living next to other human beings, least of all your fusion jazz ear-pocalypse.

I would like to present to you the very real face I make in response to this bullshit:

Mike happened to – just at the very moment the neighbor started up at his drums – take a test photo while we set up for the Lloyd Dobler photoshoot from yesterday’s post.  Captured at the up-cycle of the eye roll, no less.  Excellent work, Mike.

I See the Doorway, to a Thousand Ovens

Posted by on Oct 6, 2012 at 5:50 pm

YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE THE CRAZY COMA I HAVE BEEN IN.  I was minding my own business, and the next thing I know it is six months later.  It was like Awakenings, but with less L-DOPA.  The world has changed in my absence.  My laptop barely works anymore, people live in an artificial digital environment called Instagram, while their bodies lie dormant, generating poop for robot overlords.

Apparently Mike the Viking has hacked into my system and taken over – misspelling things, failing to use capital letters when appropriate and then taking random photos and irresponsibly labeling them just “CAKE”. I can only ask that you understand what it is like to live with him.

If you want to see what my off-Burger activities are like, find me on Instagram under: subspaceeddy

(Some assknuckle already took ‘angerburger’.) (He’s probably not an assknuckle.)

I will also have you know that I have spent the entire day today cooking and taking photos for a Fun Thing coming this Wednesday.  Stand by!  There will be a pretty good giveaway, even.  Just like the good ol’ days, and by good ol’ days I am thinking specifically of that time when I had to ban a troll for telling me that my jokes were the reason women get raped.  I never even told you guys about that!  It was great.  Apologies to all the women who have been raped out there, it was my fault.

LASTLY ALSO.  Thanks for the response to wanting to read my novel.  Mike is making some final smashings to it with his axe, and soon the first tester will be at it.  Ideally within a few weeks it will be available for sale on Amazon, and we will be hard at work or already done with the Nook and Mobi and Kogo and Fufu and Ooboo and Yaya versions.

 

3 Posted in Drama!

Still, Still Alive

Posted by on Jun 24, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Maybe it is because I grew up writing zines and then went on to live with a copywriter, but I have this massive, throbbing pet peeve wherein bloggers directly comment on their own lack of writing. I don’t think it is a feeling I hold alone; I believe it is widely considered to be the most amateur of amateur moves. So I will say this instead: at the end of this next work week, I will have the first available day wherein I am not working or dying from consumption. And I will say then, as I say now: I appreciate your concern. It’s nice. It makes me feel good. In the last eight months I have often asked you to patient, and you have been.

In summary:  I live, despite the effort of the universe.  High fives.

3 Posted in Drama!

I’m Still Alive

Posted by on Jun 7, 2012 at 9:22 am

I am technically still alive, though there was a moment there, when I was tearing my clothes off in the middle of the night due to a sudden and intense hot flash that I remembered the Miami naked face-eater and thought in terror, Oh no! I’m going to eat Mike’s face!

Later, the illness progressed into bronchial spasms, and I was at the end of my rope. I could not stop coughing. The coughing was so intense I’d just be gagging and coughing and gagging and coughing, tears streaming down my face. I have to tell you, I don’t think I’ve been sick like this ever. Late last year my mom had a brush with pneumonia and still has a nebulizer and albuterol, so I found myself with at-home treatment without having to leave the house. Without it, I would have been at the urgent care clinic and out several hundred dollars.

At some point someone asked “Why aren’t you taking Robitussin?”  Now, most over-the-counter cold remedies are bullshit. They are usually just combinations of drugs like Tylenol and a decongestant, which is great if you want to take meds and not think about it, but I have a specific combination of things I know work for me. I am a devoted believer of guaifenesin, which in the US is sold under the brand name Mucinex. Guaifenesin has almost no side-effects, and functions only to thin all mucosal secretions on the body. This means that coughing is easier, that nasal congestion is less thick, and if you’re into this sort of thing, vaginal secretions are thinner and theoretically can make impregnation easier. Let’s ignore that last part.  Anyway, most of these combination cold drugs have a small amount of guaifenesin in them, and I want to take a full dose, but that is impossible if I’ve already taken a partial that was bundled with a bunch of other meds. Does this make sense? Forgive me, it’s been a long week. Well, week and a half.  So yeah: a long week.

Anyway, Robitussin. Dextramethorphan, specifically. I don’t know why I wasn’t taking it, I suppose I assumed it was too side-effect-y or something and in my sick state ignored it. I remedied that, started taking some and behold! It totally knocked the bronchial spasms down by at least 50%, certainly enough to earn me a few solid hours of uninterrupted sleep, something I hadn’t had in days.  On Tuesday I felt well enough to return to work, and midway through the day started in on a minor coughing fit again.  I took a dose of Robitussin and felt better.

Until about three hours later, when I started to freak the fuck out.

So basically, I had an allergic reaction. These allergic reactions don’t have to happen the first time you take the drug, they can happen any time, and in my case, this was I think the 6th or 7th dose I’d taken over the about three days. The reaction presented as a sudden sensitivity, so I began to have all the symptoms of someone who had overdosed or taken 10x as much Robitussin as I had. And if you know anything about drug use, you know that people intentionally overdose Robitussin to get high. My eyes dilated, I had combination hotflash/chills that felt like effervescent bubbles up and down my body, my perception of everything became hyperaware and distant at the same time. I was panicking internally, but for some reason playing it totally cool, like nothing at all was wrong. My co-workers were unaware that I was having a medical event. Eventually I began to feel that my throat and cheeks were tight, and called my mom. I honestly wondered: should I call an ambulance? Was I about to go into anaphylactic shock? We decided I wasn’t, but I still had to ride this hilariously awful Robofry high to the end. The intensity of the reaction began to lessen after about 30 minutes, though the physical sensations became what I can only describe as “gross”. My teeth felt rubbery, my throat and mouth both numb and tight at the same time. Skin was desensitized and dusty-feeling. By the time I felt okay to go home¹ I was wiped.

So let that be a lesson to you. Don’t try to feel better.

¹ Mike was not in town and I didn’t want to go home to an empty house if I was going to need medical attention, so staying at work seemed preferable.

11 Posted in Drama!

Mike Named it Vader

Posted by on Jun 3, 2012 at 9:07 am

Two months after we moved in, I have an oven. I found it on Craigslist, paid the seller to drop it off for us and we installed it ourselves.  It was new-the-the box, purchased six months ago by a family that was gathering bits and pieces for an updated kitchen before the husband lost his job.  In a rare moment of prudence, I kept my mouth shut about the indignancies of my having missed the highlights of rhubarb season.

So why am I not burning through Washington’s butter reserves in a baking equivalent of a shark attack?  Well, let me tell you. I got a flu. Or maybe a cold. Or maybe both at once.  Suffice to say: I am pretty sure it is the Andromeda strain.

Even if I had a passing interest in food, I can’t taste. I can’t smell. I tried to eat a banana yesterday and it was like eating a stick of paste. I missed a lot of work last week, and slept even less than I worked. I will have bitchin’ abs by this time next week, because the incessant, full-body coughing certainly feels like I’ve been doing sit-ups for a hundred hours straight. Last night I resorted to internet urban legend because that is where I am at for ideas at this point (I thought it worked! But then I woke at 5am this morning with even more unsoothable, even rougher coughing than yesterday).  This hasn’t been an oh-I-was-sick-and-am-still-recovering-a-week-later.  This is I HAVE BEEN REALLY SICK FOR A WEEK.  Every day I get up and think, today is going to be the day I walk it off.  And then I get a short ways into some task like showering or drinking a cup of coffee, and I start to shake with exhaustion and cough violently and resort to a little lie-down that soon becomes a moaning plea to the universe to just let me die.

I made the Six Lonesome Muffins recipe the first morning we had the oven. I had to bake something, and had few ingredients in the house. The recipe calls for butter, but I don’t have a microwave to soften it and in desperation and exhaustion used 1/2 cup of canola oil instead.  I also realized that I didn’t have any baking powder, having intended to buy a fresh one when I moved.  I used an old-fashioned substitution trick of mixing two parts cream of tartar to one part baking soda instead of the powder, and while it seems to have worked, I still recommend using actual baking powder.  Instead of chocolate chips, I diced up some ancient, shrivelled strawberries from my fridge.  It’s not the triumphant pie I thought I was going to bake when we finally got an oven, but it’s still pretty triumphant considering that when my mom advised me to use 12-hour Afrin¹, I asked her “How often should I use it?”

¹My mom worked in otolaryngology for almost 20 years – treatment of conditions of the ears, nose and throat – and left with me a lingering terror of using Afrin. More than 3 days of Afrin use causes rebound congestion, wherein after the original cause for the swelling is gone the tissue will swell up as bad if not worse once the Afrin is stopped.  Continued Afrin use can lead to permanent swelling of the sinuses and permanent loss of the sense of smell. That being said, Afrin is the #1 most effective aid in stopping bloody noses and is handy to have in the emergency kit for that reason alone.  Also, if you haven’t been able to sleep in a week because of congestion, it’s amazing what one night of clear breathing and deep sleep can do for the psyche.  Unless you’re also coughing, in which case you’re fucked.

11 Posted in Drama!

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!

In a World Without Pie

Posted by on Apr 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I didn’t get a photo of the man across the street sitting on his porch while wearing a sarong and playing a large wooden flute, and for that I am sorry.  I want you to understand what Olympia is like, and that photo would have nearly summed it up.

Fig Manor is coming along, with some setbacks.  But first, let’s talk about the basement.  Which isn’t really a basement so much as a hole under the house.

That’s pretty much it.  Nothing peculiar has happened down there or anything, if you don’t count the part where the light switch is that blue box there on the right side of the photo, at the bottom of the stairs.  Let’s let that sink in for a moment while you imagine going down in the househole to do your laundry at night.  Getting down to the bottom.  So you can switch the lights on.

The topic of discussion today is that I have not had an oven since we moved in two weeks ago.  Because I am a total fucking moron and didn’t wonder why the range was unplugged, or who had unplugged it, and why they hadn’t plugged it back in again.

Turns out there is an electrical component in the control panel that flashes an error message and SHRIEKS LIKE A BANSHEE EVERY THIRTY SECONDS.  Just to let you know that there is an error.  In a part of the range not in use.  So while the burners still work when lit with a match, the oven portion is controlled entirely by an electric interface, an interface that the landlord has sent off to be repaired with no real way of knowing when it might be fixed.  Two weeks?  Four?  And if you’re helpfully wondering why I didn’t check to ensure it worked before we moved in, I did: I plugged it into the wall socket, checked the burners, and then unplugged it in under 30 seconds, so the error code didn’t have a chance to cycle.  Lesson about being a tenant #1,007,935: check an appliance for longer than 30 seconds.

Still, we have burners and a rice cooker, even though I realized that 90% of my cooking takes place in the oven.  We do not have a microwave, something I’d forgotten since for the last two years we’ve lived places that came with them.  I bought several hippie frozen meals before realizing they take 45 minutes to cook in the toaster oven, by which time I’ve had a few beers and then walked to the burger joint two blocks away.

Say what you want, but Spam pan-fried with a little not-too-sweet homemade teriyaki sauce served with rice and fried runny eggs is sublime.

Mike the Viking has been waging a bloody and disheartening war against the Internet Providers.  We tried DSL and immediately discovered that when the saleswoman assured us that it was perfectly adequate for normal usage, she was being incredibly literal.  It’s adequate.  As in, it works.  Ish.  We went crawling to the evil troll Comcast and begged his mercy, and we have suffered for it.  There have been new wireless routers purchased.  There have been phone calls, for assistance both foreign and domestic.  Mike the Viking used a raised voice to tell someone that Odin would destroy them, and then had to explain who Odin was.  Last night a total system failure resulted in several hours of product assistance calls this morning, which for now has granted us access to the great Net that is Inter, but how long we are blessed here I do not know.

Life!  It just keeps being here.

12 Posted in Drama!, Food Rant

Burgers, Tacos and Pizza

Posted by on Apr 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Also known as: eating like a teenage boy during moving is inevitable.  Also I’ve been eating handfuls of pseudoephedrine, Excedrin, guaifenesin and buckets of my own tears, because it is moving week, we have no internet (I’m at work as I type this) and there was that extra unpaid¹ day of work this week that involved a test².

But soon I will be able to tell you about Fig Manor, which has a motherfucking gas cooktop. And the creepiest basement I’ve ever seen, even counting “Spider Dungeon,” the basement of the 100 year old apartment building from when I was briefly a resident of Cincinnati.

In the meantime I need to try and remember what else teenagers eat so I can continue on this theme.  Bagel dogs? Stouffer’s french bread pizza? Mountain Dew? I’m getting acne just thinking about it.

¹ Even worse: the bloodborne pathogens certification class actually costs about $100, which my boss paid for me because he’s a prince amongst scoundrels.
² I passed! I actually had anxiety dreams last night that I failed, which were deserved because I was on so much cold medicine that I could only perceive myself in the third person.

10 Posted in Drama!