Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Feed bagged

November 29, 2019

Dinner, tabled.

Well, that could’ve gone better.

Thanksgiving 2019 proved something of a bust at El Rancho Pendejo. The mom-in-law was not feeling up to snuff after a poor night’s sleep and hardly any breakfast. A record-shattering snowfall and the subsequent need for shoveling same delayed dinner about 90 minutes. And Mama Kerr’s lemon meringue pie never came off the bench.

The paprika chicken with turnips and taters got in the game, though, as did the stir-fried succotash and baking powder biscuits.

By the time we had all the starters lined up on the field, alas, the MIL was not exactly eager to tie on the old feed bag. She nibbled a bit of this and that, and then asked to be taken back to assisted living. The abrupt changes she’s endured in the past couple of weeks — moving from sea level to altitude, trading a tropical climate for our semi-arid variety, and waking up to a historic Thanksgiving dumper — probably didn’t help matters.

But I got in a bit of upper-body work, shoveling the driveways here and at assisted living, so I got that going for me, which is nice. There are plenty of leftovers, which is nicer. And today Herself will take her mom out for a manicure and maybe a smallish bite of lunch somewhere.

Meanwhile, the merchants are pitching but I ain’t catching. Let ’em blacken someone else’s Friday, sez I.

All stove up

November 27, 2019

The HAL 9000 unit effects repairs upon the Frigidaire 666 unit.
Photo: Hal Walter

The Retro-Grouch, Continued: Some people, and the devices they devise, can be too smart for their own good.

And more importantly, for ours.

Case in point: My man Hal up in Weirdcliffe just replaced a $200 control-board/keypad widget in his $1,500 Frigidaire oven for the third time, after being ovenless since March 29. He’s slightly over it, but consoles himself with the knowledge that had he employed the local appliance-repair dude to do the job(s), he’d be out another six hundy or so.

Next time around he may fix it for good.

“If this thing breaks down again, I will shoot it full of holes,” he said. “The backside of this fucker looks like the wiring to the starship Enterprise.”

And why is that, d’you suppose? What do we require of an oven? That it boldly go where no one has gone before? Nope. That it bake things, and roast things, and broil things, and not take eight months off per annum, amirite? What do we need for that? Heating coils, a thermostat, and knobs to make it all hop, yeah?

My old Whirlpool double-decker uses analog knobs and is about as smart as an Iowa Republican. The knob that sets the clock is missing. Happily, unlike an Iowa Republican, I know what time it is.

And unlike Hal, I never have to crawl into the backside of the fucker with a toolbox, like Scotty, with Kirk hollering into his communicator.

“Captain, I canna make ’er cook nae faster! She’s about to blow!”

‘Season liberally’

October 12, 2019

I go through smoked paprika and Mexican oregano faster than
Il Douche commits impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors.

I like Penzey’s Spices for their excellent products, some of which I used yesterday in this posole verde, and for their cheerful, helpful staff here in the Duke City.

Now I like the company for another reason. It’s outspending everyone save Il Douche on impeachment-related FaceButt advertising, according to The New York Times.

Penzey’s Spices also used ButtFace to urge people to vote in the midterms, with owner Bill Penzey saying: “Don’t let history lump you in with the white hoods and robes crowd. History has its eyes on all of us, and history remembers.”

In a chat with Mother Times, he added: “We’ve always been about kindness and compassion. And with the recent trends in the Republican Party and unlimited political spending, it’s created this message of anger toward marginalized people in order to create votes for tax cuts for the very wealthy.

“If you are a company and you have values, now is the time to share them. Now is the time that it’s important to share them.”

Consider them shared by this salty ol’ dog, Bill. Keep spicing things up.

At ’cross purposes

October 10, 2019

Oh, yeah: It’s fall.

When the temps dip I head straight for the chile — green, red, or green-and-red — and the cyclocross bikes.

The eats lately have included turkey tacos with red Mexican rice; a red-chile posole; and a green-chile stew heavy on diced chicken thighs and spuds.

This bike will even work in California, because you don’t have to plug it in.

And the cycling? Lately it involves singletrack and my second-best Steelman, a red Eurocross that Brent built as part of an arrangement with the Clif Bar team back in the late Nineties or early 2000s.

It’s a snappy climber in the 34 x 28, but a little harsh on the bumpy stuff coming down, possibly because of the oversized, shaped True Temper top and down tubes, which have an aluminum vibe to them.

Yesterday, while climbing a trail that sensible people ride downhill, and certainly not on a ’cross bike, I successfully dodged a perambulating tarantula only to screw the pooch on a recently rearranged rocky bit (the trail fairies have been shifting the furniture around again). Caught between a rock and a hard place it was either plant a foot or take a dive. Bah, etc.

I need to reassess the cockpit configuration on this beastie. I half-assed it when I swapped stems a while back, grabbing an old Giant from the treasure chest; what I need is an entirely new stem and handlebar, the latter with a shorter reach and drop.

Plus I’ve always disliked this bike’s chunky aftermarket Shimano STI levers, which seem designed for the jumbo mitts of lesser primates. Oook ook ook.

Now that I think of it, what I really need is for Brent Steelman to come out of retirement and make me one of his old CCs, slightly updated for our modern world, such as it is. Now that was a go-anywhere, do-anything bike, back before any marketing smarties spitballed a few pitchable monikers for the category.

Hot plate, señores!

September 17, 2019

Nothing like a hot plate on a cool evening.

It’s not quite autumn yet, but what the hell. Behold the green chile chicken enchiladas with arroz verde.

What a crock

July 24, 2019

I’d like a pot with a little less crock to it, please.

I made that slow-cooker taco recipe last night and it was a hit.

Alas, I think the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees will be less satisfied as they lift the lids on their Crock-Pots today. Neither side is going to find anything in there that Chef Mueller hasn’t served them before.

And it’s not going to taste any better after Ginger Hitler pisses in it.

Beans and cornbread

February 19, 2019

Chili and cornbread, with a fake beer for a fake newsman.

The wind was howling like all the banshees in Ireland and the weather wizards were making snow noises, so last night I cooked a basic chili con carne to stave off pneumonia, chilblains, and the Galloping Never-Get-Overs.

This recipe, from Melissa Clark at The New York Times, is a favorite. It calls for ground lamb, white beans and poblanos, but I went with ground chicken thighs, pintos, and a mix of green bell peppers and Hatch chile.

And this morning is as you see.

Naturally there are onions, garlic, ground Hatch red chile, jalapeños, cumin, coriander, Mexican oregano and other bits of this and that.

This version is not nearly as richly flavored as the original, and for that I blame the chicken thighs. Ground turkey thighs might have been a better substitute, but that would have meant a trip to Keller’s, where the vast meat counter encourages deficit spending.

Likewise, poblanos would have been preferable to the bell peppers, but roasting them in that wind might have brought the fire marshals.

Herself contributed some delicious cornbread and a green salad (not pictured) fortified with clementine segments to ward off scurvy.

Beans and cornbread don’t always fight. Sometimes they go hand in hand, like corned beef and cabbage.

Shake, rattle and roll

January 1, 2019

That’s not a Wall. Not even the one from “Game of Thrones.” It’s the side patio, as photographed from the dining room, ’cause damme if I’m going outside today.

Don’t expect me to hit the bricks for the first ride of the New Year. We’ve already achieved the expected “high,” there’s a stiff wind out of the ENE, and the snow is coming in sideways.

Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment), has enjoyed a brace of delicious breakfasts and retired to his quarters to map out the year’s strategy on the underside of his eyelids.

Cranking up the internal furnace.

His adjutant, Miss Mia Sopaipilla, has drawn guard duty in Tower One, but as there seem to be no White Walkers within the perimeter — just a few socialist finches hopping around at the base of the maple, looking for a handout — she too is at a reduced state of readiness.

The conditions compelled me to fry up a skillet of my famous two-pepper hash (red bell and Hatch green, with diced red spuds, minced onion and garlic, Mexican oregano and chopped cilantro). Herself topped it off with a couple eggs over easy, and a generous sprinkle of grated Cabot sharp cheddar with a fruit cup on the side helped douse the fire.

Now the question is: How do I sweat that off? There’s not enough snow to do anything with, just enough to do something to me, and I’m kind of over that. But setting up the stationary trainer strikes me as a poor way to kick off a new training log.

Incidentally, I managed 3,309.8 miles on the bike last year, which is probably about a third of what Friend of the Blog Sharon logged. Still, I make it my best year since 2011, when I rode 3,370.2 miles.

And now, Lightnin’ Hopkins and I would like to wish all you cool cats and kittens a rockin’ happy New Year (h/t to the M-dogg for serving up that hot Decca platter). Wear it out. Tear it up.

Thousands are sailing

December 8, 2018

Hm, we seem to be on something of an Irish-music kick here.

They’re sailing in the other direction these days, at least some of them. Zio Lorenzo and The Professor are settled in Italy and not missing Sioux City one iota, unless I miss my guess.

And now our friends Mike and Liz are bidding adieu and relocating to Lyon, France.

We had them over for green-chile stew last night and caught up. They’ve bought an apartment there, the house here is for sale, and come springtime they will be well positioned to observe Le Tour in its native habitat. Stage 8 will be right in their backyard, or arrière-cour, as we say in le français.

Novelist and poet Jim Harrison thought highly enough of Lyon to write, “If I were given the dreary six months to live, I’d head at once to Lyon and make my way from bistro to bistro in a big stroller pushed by a vegetarian.”

The place suffers from a dearth of New Mexican-style green-chile stew, however, and thus we were compelled to revive them after the house-hunting excursion. We couldn’t find a vegetarian with a two-seater stroller to push them home, though.

Food King

December 4, 2018

I’ve been rethinking my hunter-gatherer protocols after the last two Whole Amazon expeditions topped the $300 mark.

Jeff Bezos does not seem to lack for steady income, I mused. Jeff Bezos never shoves a hand into a pocket and finds nothing in there but four fingers and a thumb, I surmised. Maybe I should start redistributing my* income, I decided.

The main thing Whole Amazon has going for it — as far as I’m concerned, anyway — is convenience. Whatever you want, no matter how ridiculous, there’s a strong chance that Whole Amazon will have it. Don’t need it? You’ll probably buy it anyway, just ’cause. You rarely have to do the Three Store Tango when there’s a Whole Amazon in town.

This one-stop shopping comes with a cost, of course. That hand in your pocket? It’s not yours. It’s Jeff Bezos’. He’s bored with rooting around in his own pants and wants to see what you’ve got in yours. Mine’s bigger than that. C’mon, baby, you know you want it.

Gullible’s travels.

And goddamnit, I guess I do. I’ve been test-driving some alternatives, which involved plenty of driving, and Whole Amazon remains the One Store to Rule Them All, especially when it comes to top-shelf organic produce, cheese, and booze, both real and imaginary.

Albertson’s stocks some of the items I favor — Aroma Coffee, Twining’s Irish Breakfast tea, McCann’s Irish Oatmeal, Taos Mountain Energy Bars — but while the bars and coffee were cheaper at Albertson’s, the oatmeal actually cost a buck more than at Whole Amazon.

And Albertson’s organic-produce section is a very small garden indeed, with other organic products scattered around and about, hidden among the pedestrian bits by category, instead of huddled smugly in their own tiny gated community.

Smith’s has an OK wine selection, but doesn’t carry my Clausthaler Dry-Hopped non-alcoholic beer. There’s an organics ghetto, but the produce is minimalist, nearly as thin a crop as at Albertson’s. It’s just a few minutes by bike from El Rancho Pendejo, but so is Hell.

Sprouts Farmers Market stocks Clausthaler, but only the original fake lager, and the wines are mostly the sort one drinks from a paper bag while sitting on a curb.

However, Sprouts’ selection of organic produce is second only to Whole Amazon, and it offers a house-brand organic plain English muffin I like (Whole Amazon recently re-engineered its English muffins into gummy inedibility).

Keller’s Farm Store has the league-leading meat counter and Sabroso Foods tortillas. I wouldn’t use a Whole Amazon tortilla to blow my nose.

The upshot of this unscientific survey** is that I can do without Whole Amazon, but only by shopping at Albertson’s, Smith’s, Sprouts, Keller’s, and Kelly Liquors (for my fake beer).

* “My” income mostly being “her” income.

** And yes, this is how I roll when Herself is out of Dodge. You can’t stop me! To-GA! To-GA! To-GA!