Monday, October 19, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Duck, Mortified and Bruised, Leaves Area with Dignity

This came from failblog, but I can repost because I grew up there, right?  It's oddly believable--I mean, someone there interpreting the duck waddling off as a refusal of medical treatment.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

ham tea

1 tablespoon spoiled milk
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups water
1 tea bag

boil water
pour water into cup with tea bag
cover for a minute
take out tea bag
add sugar and spoiled milk

"why does this tea smell like ham?"

from "The Golden Treasury of Natural History," published 1961 (with italic titles to ruin the humour)


Making Way for The Chosen People

"About 60 million years ago the dinosaurs disappeared.  When they went out of the picture, the Age of Reptiles came to an end."

"The habit of some dinosaurs of eating the eggs of others probably played a part in bringing an end to the dinosaurs.  The rise of a great new group of animals, the mammals, doubtless played a part, too."

"These big reptiles were truly huge.  But they were not the biggest animals that have ever lived.  No dinosaur was as big as a blue whale."

Thank God for Sense

"Doubtless the reason many of the dinosaurs died is that their bodies were too big for their brains.  With smaller bodies and bigger brains they might have lived on.  They were successful for a very long time because conditions on the earth remains almost the same for millions of years.  When conditions changed, they did not have sense enough to help themselves in any way."

Resorting to Slurs

"Stegosaurus has so tiny a brain that it could not control the muscles of its legs."

"The head of Brontosaurus was small.  There was not much room in it for brains.  The brain of the thunder lizard weighed only about a pound--not much of a brain for a 35-ton body.  The big animal must have been stupid."

"Like Brontosaurus, Diplodocus was clumsy and stupid."


When Only the Unequivocal Will Do

"Only people and the social insects are really social."

Us & The Commies

"In some ways an insect society is far ahead of a community of people.  Every individual that is old enough to work has work to do; there is no unemployment.  Every insect knows exactly how to carry on its work in the community; it does not have to be taught.  There are practically no quarrels between members of the group.  But neither is there any freedom.  We like our own societies, in spite of their faults, much better."

--Birds (Friends & Enemies)--

Am I Using My Eyes Properly?

"A bird inherits its way of nest-building.  It does not have to be taught how to build a nest, just as we do not have to be taught how to use our eyes."

Just In Case You Wondered...

"All birds have two legs."

"All birds have wings."

The Good, The Bad, And The Cannibals

"Some birds are our friends and others are our enemies."

"On the other side of the ledger is the harm which birds do us by eating fruit, grain, and helpful insects.  Some birds harm us, moreover, by eating the eggs of other birds and even small birds themselves."

"Of course, no bird is ever consciously helping us or harming us.  They are simply eating the food they are fitted for eating."


"Many people are so afraid of poisonous snakes that they kill every snake they can.  These people are being unfair to snakes in general."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

aspiring to be rectangular almond cookies

What I did was...
Whisked together melted butter, quite a bit of both brown and white sugar, and an egg.  Added about a cup and a half of chopped almonds, and half a cup of "currant" raisins.  Added a little splash of almond extract, few large pinches of cinnamon, a quarter (grated off) of a nutmeg, and a large pinch of baking powder.  Mixed in handfuls of white flour until it became a very soft dough.  Baked tablespoon sized dollops at 350 F until a little browned.

What should be done is to make just enough dough to hold together the almonds and currants.  This dough should be sweeter and less starchy (mostly butter, egg, and sugar).  The dough should be formed into large shallow rectangles that are cut into strips like biscotti when just out of the oven.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fancy Ramen (actually Udon)

The bouillon I used isn't much of an improvement over the powdered broth in packets of ramen: still chock full of MSG.  You could use less nasty broth obviously--I'm planning on it next time.

~4 cups water
1/2 cube chicken bouillon
2 teaspoons tamari
1 small garlic clove
1 small (~2cm cube) piece fresh ginger
1/4 fresh jalapeno
1 mushroom
1 heaping tablespoon green onions
3oz udon
1 egg

Begin heating the water in a medium pot on high heat.  Chop the garlic, the quarter of a jalapeno, and the mushroom.  Cut off the skin of the piece of ginger.  Drop these into the pot, along with the bouillon and tamari.  When the water boils, add the dry udon.  Chop the green onions into pieces with larger diameter than depth.  Try a noodle every few minutes.  When they're almost done, crack the egg into the pot.  Crack two, if you like.  Scrape the bottom with a spoon or spatula to keep the egg from sticking.  Boil it for a little more than a minute, then turn off the heat, add the green onions, and serve.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Chop sentences well. Pour 3 qts. superfluous detail into lightly greased shorthand.

The economy of recipe grammar that I've been working within is really baffling. Articles must be dropped, but the most obvious steps must be pinned down with the utmost exactitude. And the continuity of labels is sacred, as if I'm writing in a programming language.

Also, what was all the fuss about numbers as words instead of numerals? The idea at first was to make these recipes as transparent as possible, though I sabotaged that supposed goal at every turn, writing "one" instead of "1" was just one way to do that. The first recipe, for lentil soup, appears to be making itself as opaque as possible by making a spectacle of its potential transparency. Really that's what I love doing anyway. The point, apparently, is not to write accessible recipes, but to make a show of it, to be dramatic, to reveal myself hiding.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Without Vodka

Those bottles of pink sauce in the store always seem to list vodka in their ingredients, but I have to wonder if it imparts any particular flavor, being vodka. This sauce is similar, but less tomatoey, and with mushrooms and pine nuts. [And wine, though it's quite good without it.] Recipes are generally presumed to be finished. But I've varied this sauce so many times... Sometimes more tomatoes, sometimes fewer, sometimes tomato sauce (though I really don't recommend tomato paste--that gives it a sickly, blunt, cardboard flavour), sometimes no mushrooms or pine nuts. And I've tried varying the herbs a lot. Paprika might be nice. Hot chiles are what you would expect--and some people I'm sure would really hate the result. Rosemary is probably a mistake. Sage would certainly kill it. If you have it, fresh oregano and basil really are vast improvements over themselves dried.

1/2 onion
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
4 roma tomatoes
6 crimini mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons grated parmesan
2 tablespoons pine nuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh leaves)
1 teaspoon dried basil (or about 10 fresh leaves)
[1/2 cup white wine]

Oil a large saucepan on medium-low heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil and melt 2 tablespoons of butter in it. Put a small saucepan on medium heat. Chop finely onion and garlic and transfer to large saucepan. Don't let the onions burn. Toast pine nuts in small saucepan until well browned but hopefully not blackened. Put pine nuts aside in a bowl. Oil small sauce pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil and turn heat to medium-low. Slice tomatoes into quarters and then 5mm slices and transfer to small saucepan. Don't let the tomatoes stick to the pan. Add a pinch of salt to both pans. Chop mushrooms in half and then into slices and stir into large saucepan. The goal here is to cook the onions until soft and at the same time begin reducing the tomatoes into a sauce. Add black pepper, oregano, basil to large saucepan. [When onions are mostly cooked, add white wine and let it boil off for a minute or two.] Once the onions are done, transfer the tomatoes to the large saucepan. Stir in heavy cream. Once the cream begins to boil, adjust the heat so that it boils just gently. Add toasted pine nuts. Reduce sauce to an almost pudding-like consistency, occasionally stirring to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Grate in parmesan while stirring. Salt to taste. Remove from heat. Serve over pasta.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Not Quite Lorraine

But quiche nonetheless.

crust, adapted:
one stick butter
one and a half cup whole wheat pastry flour
half teaspoon salt
one teaspoon sugar
half cup cold water or less

Preheat oven to 400F. Put together flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Using flour as a way to keep butter from being slippery, cut stick of butter into small cubes (~1cm square) and distribute into flour. Cut butter into flour (in lieu of a pastry cutter, a fork will work with some finger pain). Add cold water a tablespoon at a time until it's possible to smash the dry clumps into a ball of dough with your hands. Sprinkle some flour liberally on a flat surface. Use this area to roll ball of dough into a disk large enough to lay on top of your pie dish plus a couple inches. While you're rolling dough keep it from sticking by flipping over and sprinkling more flour on each side. Lay dough disk into pie dish and push it around to conform to the shape of the dish. Cut off excess if you want (eat it!). Poke the bottom of it with a fork a few times. Bake until dry but not browned or hardened. It will bubble when baked--this is generally a big no-no, countered by weighing down the dough with heavy objects in a bag, but you're not cooking this crust hard, so the bubbles should be pressed back down by the liquid of the filling. Or they won't. I'm lazy.

filling, adapted:
half an onion
four crimini mushrooms
quarter stick butter
one cup grated swiss cheese
four eggs
two cups heavy cream
one teaspoon salt
a pinch sugar
half teaspoon cayenne pepper
half teaspoon paprika

Preheat oven to to 425 F. Chop onion into 1cm square pieces. Slice mushrooms in half and then into thin slices. Melt butter in a small frying pan and fry onions and mushrooms on medium-low heat until onions are translucent. Remove from heat. In a large bowl mix together thoroughly eggs, cream, salt, and sugar. Grate cheese into crust. Transfer onions and mushrooms into crust. Pour egg and cream mixture on top of this. Muss it about with a spoon to avoid a heap of cheese in the middle. Sprinkle cayenne pepper and paprika on top. Bake until top becomes somewhat browned.

Cold, Hard Proof that it's Summer (well, not so hard)

Even if it's not summer.

one bottle lemonade (make it yourself, for all I care)
five strawberries
2 tablespoons rose water
[eight cloves]

Drink a small glass of lemonade. Slice five strawberries into quarters (yes, after removing the leafy top) and put them in the bottle of lemonade. Add two tablespoons (cap-fulls) rose water. [Bring 1/2 cup water to boil. Add eight cloves to water. Continue boiling until water is reduced to two tablespoons. Pour this into the bottle of lemonade.] Serve in a glass with ice.

Lentil Soup #41358

We can pretend that the sweetness of the sauteed onions is accentuated by the seemingly out of place nutmeg and cinnamon in this soup. Really, convince yourself. Or maybe the odor of the nutmeg will unexpectedly please you. Or maybe you don't care, and you will look at this recipe only for its proportions of water, lentils, and salt (the last of which isn't provided). Which is all you need anyway I'm sure.

1/2 pound lentils
one small onion
one or two cloves of garlic
one or two fresh chiles (something medium hot, like serrano)
one tomato (roma, but any kind will do)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cooking oil
three teaspoons coriander powder
two teaspoons cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
a pinch of freshly shaved nutmeg
salt to taste (a guess: 3 teaspoons)

Put a medium pot on medium-low heat, pour in the cooking oil, and melt the butter in it. Meanwhile, chop the onion into 1cm square pieces or smaller, the garlic as finely as possible, and the chile(s) into lengthwise quarters and then fine slices. Transfer all three into the pot and spread evenly for frying. Make sure that the heat is low enough that it doesn't burn the onions. Add the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Slice the tomato into quarters and then fairly thin slices. Once the onions are translucent, soft, and somewhat sweet, add the lentils, the tomatoes, and roughly a quart of water or twice as high as the lentils in the bottom of the pot. Turn heat to medium-high until the water boils, and then turn back down to medium-low. Let it mildly boil until lentils expand to the top of the pot, then add more water to create your desired consistency (I like to keep at least a 1/2 inch of water above the mass of lentils). Add salt. Continue cooking on low heat until the lentils are soft. You may need to add more water.