Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

The fab four

April 4, 2020

Sick of oatmeal? Four Pepper Hash makes a nice change of pace.

Today being 4/4, it seemed a propitious morning to whip up my world-famous Four Pepper Hash.

Also, I was sick unto death of oatmeal.

Anyway, this dish is a breeze, loosely based on a 1993 Betty Crocker (!) recipe from the early days of marriage and underpaid freelancing.

You start with a couple cups of coarsely chopped spuds (I favor the reds; go figure). Microwave those commie taters for five minutes to speed the process along.

While the taters are nuking, coarsely chop about a cup of whatever peppers you have on hand. For this one I used red, yellow, and orange bells, plus a jalapeño.

Likewise take the knife to a couple scallions (or a quarter cup of whatever onion is nearby); a couple tablespoons of parsley and/or cilantro; a clove or two of garlic; and mebbe a bit of already-cooked meat (I had a chunk of andouille sausage left over from a jambalaya I made a couple days back).

For spices I’ve gone as basic as salt and pepper, especially if I’m not adding meat or if there are sissies at the table. A bit of thyme is nice too.

Depending upon what protein I’m using I’ve been known to add a generous pinch of Mexican oregano and some smoked Spanish paprika or red chile powder, or p’raps a dash of Penzey’s Cajun spice.

When you’ve got everything ready to go, heat two tablespoons of butter (or the alternative fat of your choice) in a skillet over medium heat and dump the lot in. Fry, stirring occasionally, for eight minutes or so until the spuds are nicely browned and the vegetables tender.

Fill your plates, grate a little sharp Cheddar and/or Parmigiano-Reggiano on top, and th’ow an egg over medium onto the sumbitch. Warmed flour tortillas on the side. That’s it.

Let’s eat!

April 1, 2020

We should be good for a couple more weeks now.

My first grocery trip in more than two weeks was blessedly uneventful.

The parking lots were sparsely populated. A few customers were masked and gloved. And all of us were doing the Alphonse-Gaston routine in the aisles.

“After you, Alfonse.”

“No, you first, my dear Gaston!”

I was surprised to be able to find everything on my list, and doubly so to find everyone bearing up so well. A tip of the Mad Dog chef’s toque to the staffs of Keller’s Farm Stores and Sprouts Farmers Market for keeping the shelves stocked, the checkouts running, and their chins up in trying times.

Beaned

March 28, 2020

The ornamental pear is blooming … just in time for the morning low
to dip below freezing again.

We’re not down to eating the backyard foliage like Spike the Terrorist Deer. Not yet, anyway.

But it has been about 10 days since our last grocery trip, and we’re having to get creative.

Last night I was scrounging around in the pantry like an old bear fresh from hibernation and thought: “Hmm. Must be something I can do with canned beans other than make emergency burritos.” This is the kind of burrito you make when you don’t feel like going through all the rigamarole involved in making a proper pot of frijoles.

Which I was not. It was my birthday, f’chrissakes.

So I hit The New York Times Cooking site. This is well worth the price of a subscription to The Old Grey Lady. It’s not geared strictly for the condo chef with an eight-burner Wolf gas range and All-Clad out the arse. You’ll find plenty of pantry possibilities too.

And whaddaya know? I unearthed one perfectly suited to my supplies: Cheesy White Bean-Tomato Bake.

I made a few adjustments. Didn’t have any mozzarella, so I used Monterey Jack. Also, I tossed a generous dollop of cilantro-jalapeño salsa in with the tomato paste, and added a pinch of smoked paprika to the spices.

And when it came out of the oven I sprinkled it with some coarsely chopped cilantro and a bit of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Herself contributed a side salad and that was that.

Ali Slagle, who provided the recipe, also offers a snazzier black-bean version. We may try that one down the road. We’re flat out of Jack now, but we still have some sharp Irish Cheddar.

Zoom ’n’ shrooms

March 26, 2020

Some driveway artiste was trying to cheer up the passers-by, if any.

I had a Zoom video chat with the BRAINiacs yesterday. My first! Look at me, being all like hep to the jive an’ shit.

The meeting was late in the day, and I burned a whole lot of daylight indoors doing whatever the hell it is that I do around here lately, so instead of kitting up for a ride to the Dark Tower to resupply Herself the Elder I went out for a brisk half-hour limp around the ’hood.

You can see company coming a long ways off out here in the Sandia foothills.

Distancing was social, and I seem to be limping faster, so, yay.

After the Zoom session I test-drove a couple new recipes that met with Herself’s approval: mushroom quesadillas and arroz verde.

For the quesadillas I used flour tortillas and Monterey Jack rather than corn torts and mozzarella. Also, I baked them in the oven instead of frying them in a pan.

For the rice I went with a blend of mild/hot Hatch chile instead of poblano and jalapeño.

Them was the ingredients I had on hand. And y’know what? It did not suck. Didn’t take any pix because I was too busy eatin‘ them sumbitches.

The Zoom thing was cool, too. I got to see some people I haven’t seen in a while, and nobody sneezed on nobody.

• Meanwhile — confusion reigns over whether bike shops are “essential.”

Cantina del Perro Loco

March 19, 2020

Careful, señores … hot plate!

We’ve eaten our way through the oven-roasted chicken-and-taters. Likewise the chili con carne (based on me sainted ma’s recipe from our days in Texas). The other day we settled for a simple repast of smoked oysters, cheese, crackers, and salad.

What to cook next?

Mexican, of course.

Herself harvests her latest crop of sprouts.

There were no dried pinto beans to be had on our last hunter-gatherer expedition to Sprouts (gracias, hoarders).

But I found a 2-pound sack stashed away in a cupboard from a months-ago trip to Keller’s. So I cooked up a pound a la Santa Fe School of Cooking, with onion, garlic, chipotle chile, oregano, epazote, cumin, coriander, salt, bay leaf, and chicken broth.

This takes the better part of quite some time, but it’s not as though we’re up to our nalgas in other chores around here.

Flour tortillas we already had. So, burritos, yeah? Claro que si, hombre.

But burritos without green chile sauce are like a day without sunshine. So I thawed some frozen Hatch chile and got after that.

Also, beans without rice? What are you, high? Rick Bayless has a no-frills recipe for red rice in his “Mexican Everyday,” and even a gabacho can make that drunk with one foot in a bucket, or, in my case, sober with one foot in a lace-up ankle brace.

Herself whipped up a couple simple side salads and that was that. Now we have leftovers for a couple days. And then, we’ll switch focus from Mexican to Italian.

We’re in the soup

March 11, 2020

This soup didn’t come out of a packet.

We were not Jewish. But whenever one of us was sick, Mom would break out the chicken soup.

Well, kinda, sorta.

It was the sort of soup a harried Midwestern Presbyterian considered suitable for ailing children, a saucepan of rehydrated Lipton chicken noodle, with a side of Premium saltines. And if I played my cards right, I could work Mom for the fake soup and a couple of comic books. Winning!

Well, here we are again. The Plague is upon us, we’re shivering under the comforter, and someone is bringing us a plastic bowl of industrial soup with some dried-up old white crackers.

Say, who is that wearing Mom’s apron? It’s … it’s … oh, my God, it’s. …

Yes, it’s another thrilling episode of Radio Free Dogpatch!

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: It’s another low-and-slow-fi episode this week. I used an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB mic, and skipped the Zoom H5 Handy Recorder in favor of recording directly to the MacBook Pro using Rogue Amoeba’s nifty little app Piezo. Editing was as usual, in GarageBand. You’ll recognize Babe and the gang from The Firesign Theatre (“How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You’re Not Anywhere At All”) and the doctor from “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.” The background music is by Your Humble Narrator, assembled from bits and pieces in the iOS version of GarageBand on a 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

Milestones

January 2, 2020

Your Humble Narrator logging some trail miles during 2019.

I awarded myself a day off yesterday, which is no way to jump-start a new year.

Did Albuquerque’s evildoers take some well-deserved downtime after a blue-ribbon year that saw them crush the old record for homicide by 10 stiffs (72 in 2017)? They did not. They got right back after it in the wee hours of New Year’s Day, dropping a body on the northwest side, after a New Year’s Eve in which APD took 146 “shots fired” calls.

Me, I didn’t even clear leather. I puttered around the shack, wandered over to the grocery to acquire a bit of this, that, and the other, whipped up a largish pot of simple posole, and updated a few stats in the old training log from 2019.

It seems I covered 3,704.6 miles last year aboard various bikes, continuing a steady upward progression from 2016, when I managed just 2,354.1 miles.

This is far from impressive. Back in 1989, when I was a man, instead of whatever it is that I am now, I rode 6,725 miles. Booyah! Big number, yeah?

No. Not really. Not when you consider that Gary Fisher tallied 6,500 miles in 2019. And he’s 69.

So I’d better get back after it. But not today. Today looks like light snow, with a high in the 30s and a brisk northwest wind.

Maybe a short trail run? I wonder how many miles The Fish’ ran in 2019. …

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.