All Wrong

Tonight, I was cooking dinner; Grilled pork chops, bulgar wheat, and oven-roasted baby carrots. Now, when I’m roasting stuff, I often use a heavy frying pan. I own a number of very good such pans, and they go easily from stovetop to oven. Most of my frying pans have nice, stay-cool handles. No matter how […]

Tonight, I was cooking dinner; Grilled pork chops, bulgar wheat, and oven-roasted baby carrots.

Now, when I’m roasting stuff, I often use a heavy frying pan. I own a number of very good such pans, and they go easily from stovetop to oven.

Most of my frying pans have nice, stay-cool handles. No matter how hot the pan gets, the handle stays touchable. At least, that works when you’re on the stove top.

I have trouble learning some things though. Little things, like fire burns.

So of course when my carrots came out of the oven, I plated them nicely, and then turned to clean up, picking up my frying pan to move it toward the sink.

The handle – like the rest of the pan, and the carrots that were in it, and the inside of the oven – was something like 375°F. And of course I don’t have the sense to just drop a hot pan, but instead, tend to set it down carefully (respect for my cooking gear runs deep; much deeper, evidently, than self-preservation or pain threshold.

You’d think eventually I’d learn, right? Well, ok, maybe not. Not if you know me.

There’s really nothing like the sound of skin sizzling, is there?


After plunging my hand into icewater, I took a look and found a handful of blisters in a palm similar in color to the pork I’d just taken off the grill. Guess I don’t have quite the calluses I used to.

This I thought, is going to smart a bit.

I finished my dinner, and then washed down a double handfull of vicodin with a Duval. And then wrapped my hand in ice and figured, you know, what goes well with vicodin?

Morphine.


She had black hair like ravens crawling over her shoulders
All the way down
She had a smile that swerved
She had a smile that curved
She had a smile that swerved all over the road
It’s all wrong all wrong
All wrong all wrong
She had a way of making people feel good to be around her
As it should be
It’s all wrong all wrong
All wrong all wrong (x2)
All wrong
And when she laughs I travel back in time
Something flips the switch and I collapse inside
It’s all wrong all wrong
All wrong all wrong (x2)
All wrong


I don’t do favorites lists the way I once did.

I used to have lists; favorite albums, favorite bands, favorite songs. Favorite concerts. They’d be ordered (if fluid), and they’d be conditional (favorite songs to have sex to, favorite driving albums).

I had them ordered and ranked, and at one point even sorted my Lps by favoritness, rather than alphabetical.

It’s all way too much work for me now; and in any case it’s generally too fluid to mean anything beyond right now.

There are exceptions. I can pick a favorite single album; I have a list (un-ranked, but consistant) of my five favorite jazz albums. So when one of my daughters asked me the other day, what’s your favorite band, instead of my usual I don’t have a favorite (an answer they hate), I found I had one.

Morphine.

I don’t need more on the list than that; If I think about it I start feeling like Dick and Barry from High Fidelity. But there’s that one.

smoke and fire and a dearth of sleep

I’m getting bored with bitching about how swampped I am. And I bet you are already clicking away, thinking, oh, sure, another whine-whine-i’m-so-fucking-busy-i-can’t-blog-apart-from-blogging-about-being-busy entry. Fair enough. Thing is, I keep making the mistake of thinking – and saying, in some cases – it’ll be better after this week. Which it isn’t. I was pretty damn […]

I’m getting bored with bitching about how swampped I am. And I bet you are already clicking away, thinking, oh, sure, another whine-whine-i’m-so-fucking-busy-i-can’t-blog-apart-from-blogging-about-being-busy entry.

Fair enough.

Thing is, I keep making the mistake of thinking – and saying, in some cases – it’ll be better after this week. Which it isn’t. I was pretty damn sure after my LA trip last month that things would start to quiet down; the project we’re working on is just about to finish (no, it won’t get announced at some upcoming show, we’re back to working on system internals, nothing so splashy as last time). I figured the night-and-weekend, no-time-to-think-or-talk thing was about over, that I’d have time to take a lunch break or plau hookey for an afternoon any day now.

Of course I was wrong; while the project is closing out soon, this has been one of those moving target games, where ‘about three weeks’ is always out about three weeks from any value of now. And we’ve got two more projects spinning up in the next week or so (“oh just little ones, they’ll be quick,” the teams are saying. Sure. Riiiiight.)

And of course, I just got pulled into some planning on longer terms stuff; projects I am VERY INTERESTED IN, yet don’t have bandwidth to think about yet. I’m so busy bailing I can’t even visualize building a new boat.

Add to that my boss leaving my team (which means I’m having to step in and catch all the balls and clubs and rings and chainsaws he’s been juggling, in effect picking up a new job on top of my old one), and my main co-worker leaving for the rest of the month for a (well deserved) trip home to ethiopia, and I’m looking at a solid month of saying i need a fucking vacation. Which I don’t have time or dough for, at least not out as far on the horizon as I can see from here.

My head will now explode. Stand Back.

The one thing I’ve managed to do is some cooking; even with working most of the weekend, paying my bills, tending my mother, and driving kids around to various play dates and teen birthday parties, I managed to make both a dinner of grilled, mint-and-yogurt marinated lamb with artichokes saturday, and tonight, what turned out to be the best tomato soup I’ve ever had (courtesy of a tyler florence recipe).

I’ve said it before; when everything seems like it’s comin’ down around your ears, try cooking something. If you don’t have time for therapeutic rough sex, smoke and fire and knives is the next best thing (though, you know, sex that includes smoke, fire and knives? That sounds pretty damn good.)

Now I’ve distracted myself. I was going to post recipes, one for roasted tomato soup with bacon, and another marinated lamb. But instead I’m imagining the sort of thing I need a lot more brainpower to describe. That, possibly, will be my next entry. But I’m finding writing erotica isn’t so easy when one’s fighting several weeks of sleep deficit.

making stock

My dear friend E asked me about making stock recently, and I figured I might as well do this in a blog entry instead of an email, so as to better share the wealth. I make stock all the time. Basically whenever I have enough roasted birds carcasses collected in my freezer. I’ve talked about […]

My dear friend E asked me about making stock recently, and I figured I might as well do this in a blog entry instead of an email, so as to better share the wealth.

I make stock all the time. Basically whenever I have enough roasted birds carcasses collected in my freezer. I’ve talked about this before, but I didn’t really talk technical.

Stock is simple. It’s easy. If you think it’s difficult, you’re working too hard on it. In a nutshell, all you’re doing is putting bones, and usually vegetables, in a pan with water, and simmering for hours. That’s pretty much the whole story. You’ll find books – like Michael Ruhlmann’s Elements of Cooking – which will leave you thinking you need to devote days to making veal stock or why bother. Ruhlmann’s book is great, but he makes that mistake of speaking as if to experts when giving basic tips. Yeah, I’m sure his results are great, but so are mine even when I do everything different that he says.

Make it easy, or you won’t do it. You’ll buy a box or a can.

Read more “making stock”

chef space

I swear, I’ve been trying to sit down and write something – blog entry, even a blog commen – for more than a week now. I can’t sit still. I can’t concentrate when I sit down. I’ve been off work since Dec 22nd, and had no travel plans nor major projects; I’ve been on call […]

I swear, I’ve been trying to sit down and write something – blog entry, even a blog commen – for more than a week now. I can’t sit still. I can’t concentrate when I sit down.

I’ve been off work since Dec 22nd, and had no travel plans nor major projects; I’ve been on call for work all week (the team I support are working the week, lucky to get xmas and new year’s days off). Luckily those of us in support were not asked to be on site, but since one of my team’s out on maternity leave (and oh-my-god was she cute pregnant; young, indian, 5 foot tall in shoes – wait, I’m distracting myself), one’s on vacation in Iowa, another someplace on the border between india and pakistan visiting family, I wound up one of two who’s still home for the holidays.

So mentally, I’m still 30% at work; xmas day while my kids un-wrapped gifts, I was checking for trouble tickets from my iPhone. This seems to have had the effect of making me not want to be anywhere near my computer when I’m not tending to dire emergencies involving software licenses and batch queueing ratios.

What I have done, though, is cooked. And I’m reminded how much more I like cooking than I do working. I’m reminded how good it feels to make something simple for no reason other than because I felt like it.

My family – and by that I mean my in-laws, my family consists of a mom who won’t leave the house ’cause of a combination of emphysema and a panic disorder, and my own immediate family of four – postponed the usual xmas eve dinner til the 30th this year. This was traumatic; IJ (my mother-in-law) plans things with dalek-like determination; every single detail alike, year to year, decade to decade. But this year, we lost two major figures in the family drama. Holmes, my father-in-law, passed away last february after a short, brutal struggle with cancer, and auntie Glenna went last summer. No one in the family, apart from IJ, (who seemed to be over all this long before it happened, again, putting one in the mind of cyber-beings) wanted a business-as-usual family xmas. One one else could face that, so we’re doing it different this year.

IJ does the turkey – the exact same turkey as last year and the exact same turkey as 1997 – and peas, and various jell-o salad type things. Other family members are bringing ten thousand sweet treats for after. I’m doing tasty, carb-a-riffic side dishes.

As I write this, I’m waiting for a pot of yams-or-sweet-potatoes (I never can remember what the difference is) to boil. I’ve a foil packet in front of me, the scent of roasted garlic wafting from it; later, that will go into mashed yukon golds. A few minutes ago I put a baking dish of creamed onions on the ‘fridge, and in a moment, I need to figure out what’s going in these yam-things (I’ve never made them, and so for once need a recipe).

While the potatoes boil, later, I have a shrimp cocktail to put together, big fat prawns and a traditional cocktail sauce, heavy with horseradish but too light on cayenne for my taste (few in the family are chili heads, apart from me and ruby).


The yams – crisp-topped with sugar and pecans, scented with vanilla and cinnamon – came out wonderfully, or so eyes and nose tell me. I do not understand serving these as a side dish beside ham or turkey; no they are a sweet dish and should come after the mean. But nevermind, they will be good and those who find sweet and savory more complimentary than I do will enjoy them.

Onions are now in the oven, topped with a cracker and bread crumbs; this year I tried browning the onions in butter before adding the cheese sauce, and it looks and smells like a good choice. Seven or eight hundred small yukon gold potatoes now sit in a big pot on my stove. In a few minutes they’ll be combined with a roasted-garlic cream, butter, milk, hawaiian sea salt and white pepper.

This post should have pictures, because it’s pure food porn. But hell if I can be bothered to find the camera. I’m in chef space now.

(I posted this WAY before it was done, I meant to just upload and not publish. New version of ecto, still a few bugs. Fuck it though, I guess it’s done now.)

Chad’s Dad’s Black Bean Hummus

This is what I meant to post when I started the aimless ramble that became the next entry; my recipe for Black Bean Hummus. That entry went off into something else so here it is on it’s own. I got a new food processor for xmas, and of course then needed to make pureed things. […]

This is what I meant to post when I started the aimless ramble that became the next entry; my recipe for Black Bean Hummus. That entry went off into something else so here it is on it’s own.

I got a new food processor for xmas, and of course then needed to make pureed things. I pulled out one of my favorite party-dip recipes, and decided to use it as a side dish with grilled lamb. It works *really* well as a side dish, and really, could not be much better for you with all the beans and lime and so forth.

This dinner was so good, my family demanded the exact same dinner two nights later, which I made, and it turned out even better the second go round.

Chad’s Dad’s Black Bean Hummus

1 15oz can *unseasoned* black beans (you could use fresh cooked, but I never do); drained and lightly rinsed (you can skip the rinse if you want a darker color and beanier flavor)
1/3 cup FRESH SQUEEZED lime juice
1 large clove garlic, chopped or smashed (or more to taste, if everyone’s eating it)
1/2 cup natural-style peanut butter (not that skippy crap)
1-4 jalapenos, chopped and de-seeded (to taste – it will take a LOT of chilis before it starts to taste spicy; I sometimes use serranos, and I’ve used habenros without making it mouth-hurting)
1 whole bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed (you could use parsley if you’re one of those cilantro-hating freaks)
salt to taste (it usually needs quite a bit)

Add garlic and lime to food processor, process until the garlic is well minced. Add peanut butter, and continue to process until smooth, adding water by quarter teaspoons if needed to get the PB moving. Add beans and chilis, and process til smooth (again, adding water if needed). Taste, and adjust salt (and usually, add more chilis). Should be a smooth, spreadable consistency, but not runny. Add cilantro and pulse just til well incorporated; too much processing will turn the dip green.

Garnish with thin lime slices, olives and cilantro leaves, dust with cayenne, drizzle with olive oil, and serve with toasted pita and blue corn chips.

This recipe came to me via my friend Chad, a truly beautiful human being. We used to share season tickets for 49ers games, and every home-game sunday we’d trek to Candlestick Point at ungodly hours of the morning, rain or shine, to tailgate with our crew of friends. These are the people who owned motorhomes just for tailgate parties, the people who’ve been going to games since kezar, the people who go no matter what.

Chad used to bring this wonderful dip once in a while; when I first tried it, I was amazed. What the hell is is, I asked, because it was gray and unlovely. I’m sure I objected, stating that hummus isn’t made from black beans and peanut butter, you can’t call it hummus, but then I tried it and all was forgiven; it’s that fucking good.

Where did you get this recipe, I asked? “From my dad,” he said, and ever since, that’s been it’s name, Chad’s Dad’s Black Bean Hummus; I even contributed it to a cook book under that name one time.