Sunday, July 26, 2015

Michigan Beer Fest

Along with @stevendkrause, I attended the Michigan Beer Fest on Friday evening in Ypsi's Riverside Park. Sold out venue opened at 5 p.m. The line looked like this from the bridge over the Huron River, near Depot Town.

Riverside Park Opening Line

For thirty-five bucks, you get a five ounce cup and a plastic baggy with fifteen tokens, each good for a three ounce sample. They provide a map, but it's an ambling scene, more wandering than purposefully itinerant. The only factors affecting my thinking as we went in were 1) need to get some food, 2) want to stop by Original Gravity's booth, 3) prefer IPAs, and 4) venue closes at 9 p.m. I'm not so excited about the wildest experimental brews, but I sought to intermix the stuff I thought I would like with the stuff that was funky and offbeat. Here's the list:

  1. Rad 2 the Max from Pike 51 (top three of the night)
  2. Belgian Saison from Bob's Brewery (came with bratwurst)
  3. Reclamation IPA from Ore Dock, only representative from UP (forgettable flavor)
  4. Root Down Ginger Beer from Original Gravity, Milan, MI
  5. Coconut Cream Ale, 51 North, Lake Orion (terrible; coconut cream pie and bud light, as if sipped from Hawaiian Tropics bottle)
  6. Sassafras Dark Day IPA from Olde peninsula in Kalamazoo (odd vanilla scent; sassafras note, pleasant)
  7. Cheboygan Brewing Co, Blood Orange Honey (too fruity for me; light and summery)
  8. Mistress Jades Hemp Ale, Sherwood (p good)
  9. Spiney Norman IPA, Right Brain Brewery, Traverse City, MI, (top three of the night; a good, hoppy IPA)
  10. Also tried Mangalista Pig Porter from Right Brain (bacon; brewed with pig heads; sip is plenty)
  11. Ol' Dale, Mountain Town Brewery, Mt. Pleasant
  12. Twice Licked Kitty from Rupert's Brew House
  13. 4C'z Slam IPA from Farmington Brewing Co. (never again)
  14. Low End Theory black IPA, Batch Brewing Company
  15. Barrelman English IPA from Shorts
  16. Hop in Yer Rye from Saugatuck Brewing Co. (top three of the night)
  17. Figpa IPA from Dark Horse variety station

Not much else to add, besides these photos:

Brewed in Mt. Pleasant

Hippie Drum-Bagpipe Band

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Original Gravity

I enjoyed a first taste—to be honest, three first tastes— of Original Gravity brews at the Michigan Beer Festival late last month. I sampled their Belgian Training Wheels and 440 Pepper Smoker before an OG-veteran I was with persuaded me to try their Southpaw IPA. The Pepper Smoker was peculiar (smoky and peppery), but not the sort of thing I'm sure I'd want in a full glass. The Belgian Training Wheels was good, although I find a lingering banana-like note about which I remain undecided (i.e., better keep on the training wheels). But the Southpaw was one of the most memorable beers I had at the event, and OG's setup was impressive down to their custom taps. I'd never visited their brewery in Milan, a small town 15-miles south from here along US-23, but after the Beer Fest and after hearing more about the place, I made mental note of it, adding it to a short list of places in the area worth visiting.

D., Is., and I spent Saturday morning and early afternoon at the Toledo Zoological Gardens, and the nice thing about the zoo, besides the baby elephant, the sloth bears (what I think of as my middle-age totem), and hippos, is that Original Gravity is located directly on the route back home. In fact, that could be the advertising pitch for our visit to the Toledo Zoo on Saturday: On the way home, you can exit in Milan, Mich., have a sandwich and a pint of Southpaw, and take a growler of Belgian Training Wheels to go.

We tried their veggie and grilled cheese sandwiches and ordered a side of hummus—all were better than expected, a definite cut above the competition. In fact, this has been one of my complaints about neighborhood brewery in Ypsi: the food is meh. OG doesn't have an elaborate menu, but they're doing it right. Great sandwiches made with fresh, local bread (Erie Bread Company, I think). The draw of Southpaw: great. And the growler of Training Wheels, well, probably more than I needed because I just won't drink a full growler in a week. But I wanted to re-run the lingering notes experiment, and the growler—half of which remains in the fridge—was more than enough to collect new data.

Next time I get a growler, it'll have to be before a cocktail party where I can share it with others interested in local/regional brews. And I don't know whether OG will be bottling any time soon; either way, I'd happily go back, which of course means I am working to pencil in another family excursion to the Toledo Zoo soon.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nothing a Plate of Fried Foods Won't Fix

Already, another year.

This birthday, while not as carefree as certain previous birthdays, included teaching the second class of a spring-term ENGL121, a pair of CXC (or CAC?) Advanced Institute presentations, a dinner and ice cream excursion (I'm trimming the caloric details here in anticipation of what's next), and a gift. It included, too, a delightfully constant and friendly stream of Facebook birthday wishes. Nice, that. Ultimately this is the difference between Facebook and Twitter, isn't it? On FB, the birthday felicitations flow freely. On Twitter, how old are you again?

The gift: a Presto! 05462 Digital ProFry Immersion Element Deep Fryer. I just gained two pounds typing its name. Actually, I copied and pasted its name, and still, two new pounds. I count this gift a direct, if a few days delayed, answer to the question, "Are we really going to eat the soggy sweet potato fries from the oven?" Granted, I was the one who asked the question, and I was also the one who made the soft-batch oven-baked mush frittes last weekend. We ate them and pretended to like them.

So, yeah, the deep fryer's a uni-tasker, but it's a uni-tasker with pictures of donuts and waffle fries and deep fried pork chops on its box. If you've got to have a uni-tasker in your kitchen, it may as well be one that can crisp off some donuts or falafels or whatever. Of course, owning the first deep-fat-frier of my growing-old life means I probably should reboot an earnest fitness regimen before I reach whatever age it is I'll be turning next year on 5-5.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Vedge Plate

I won't say the pesto dollop (center) makes for the most appetizing visual presentation, but aside from that small detail, this one turned out to be an astonishingly tasty meal. We happily inherited a bushel of zucchini from my brother- and sister-in-law over the weekend. But beyond the usual suspects (zucchini bread, zucchini tempura, zucchini stir fry), I wanted to try something different, something I hadn't tried before. I picked up a mandolin on Monday. Guess I'd been putting that off: mandolins are such a knifey contraption they incite every blade fear I've ever had. In fact, I think I may have cut myself writing that sentence.

With the mandolin properly calibrated to slice long, narrow strips from whatever is pressed across its surface, I set to running the zucchini (6-7 inch segments, unpeeled) against the blades 10-12 times or until the airy, seedy middle started to show. Three large zucchini later, I had a pile of "noodles." Those went in the boiling water for one minute, 15 seconds, then strained, then shocked in cold water. Perfect. Spaghetti (er, zuccghetti? spaghini?) has never tasted this light, this fresh.

The photo doesn't exude Italianicity as forcefully as Barthes' panzani ad. Nevertheless, food's burdens are always regional (even when they are elsewhe-regional), and with the abundance of zucchini around here this time of year, a flash-boiled pile of "noodles," on display as above, having eaten them, connotes Michiganicity, even faintly, flavors from childhood Augusts I remember vividly or wish I could.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010



Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dinner Club

We are next up in the Dinner Club rotation. In just over three hours, we will welcome three families, ten guests total into our home for an evening of food and drink. Among them: teachers, environmental engineers, foodies, artists, and their tots. For most of the day, I have been preparing for this event. I am tired, sweating, allergic, etc. And I have been thinking about the rules of Dinner Club, which I will post intermittently throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening (in stolen moments), time permitting.

Rule 1. Sunshine.

Rule 2. Especially when you feel an argument brewing, do not mistake Dinner Club for Fight Club.

Rule 3. If the guests are pizzatarians, honor their special dietary needs as best you can.

Rule 4. No moving of furniture inside of 90 minutes to scheduled arrival.

Rule 5. No unplanned painting projects. Note: This is not only a Dinner Club rule, but a rule for any time guests are on their way.

Rule 6. Wolaver's before, during, and after.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Mint Green

song chart memes

Any word on what the blue tastes like? (via).

Friday, November 28, 2008

Primary Flavors

Primary Flavors

So that the sweet tooths of the house (my own included) would stop gnashing at me about how little we have on hand to please (and also to rot) them, I boiled together three half-batches of rock candy early this afternoon: peppermint, anise, and cinnamon. Can you tell from the photo that I've never made rock candy before?

For one thing, I didn't know how much powdered sugar to lay out, and, in retrospect I used far too little. I also didn't boil the syrup long enough, so these batches didn't set up until each of them roasted for another 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Is. lent a hand on the first pan--yellow peppermint rather than green peppermint because her affinity for yellow things has not wavered. When Is. went down for her nap, Ph. took over; he led the production of the red and blue batches as I explained how I thought it should work (this was before we understood that we were undercooking the stuff).

The red and blue sheets side by side reminded me immediately of last month's election maps. Pans of colored syrup resemble land masses. Ph. and I kidded for a minute that someone (not us) could have become wildly internet famous if, during the election, they'd thought of using a Dremel tool to cut out the shapes of every state and then ate the non-winning colors as the electoral geography was determined on election night. Who wouldn't tune into YouTube to watch a Wolf Blitzer look-alike sucking on a cinnamon New York or an anise Texas as each state was called? Of course, the initial batches we poured, had we tried to cut them into states, would have looked more misshapen than Mark Newman's two-tone cartograms, and probably even less edible. And yet, the political landscape is, when all of the powdered sugar coating has settled, kind of gooey after all, isn't it?

I suppose an idea as flavorful as the cutting out and eating of state-shaped candies can hold over until 2012. Maybe the "Yes We Carve" folks would want to pick it up as "Yes We Confect." And thus, with no urgent message to get out in late November, tomorrow we'll crack up the hardened puddles into bite-sized pieces and eat them no matter whether they look like Maine, the Dakotas, or Michigan's U.P. With any luck we'll have a few shards of candy remaining to carry with us to dentist appointments in mid-December, incriminating evidence of our by-then fastsweetly-dissolving interest in connecting the dots between candy-pan geography and election maps.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Love You, Stewmorrow

The seasons are changing, so you need a new soup: Stewmorrow. Two reasons for the name: 1.) There is more for tomorrow. Lots more. This afternoon I made a batch the way my mother would have: cook to fill the sizes of the pots you are working with, not the number of faces you are feeding. 2.) It is something to look forward to, to anticipate. Only a day away, stewmorrow.

Here's how you can make some for yourself next time you're tired of the same old cheese sandwiches day after day.

You'll need

1 fist-sized onion, chopped
4 zuchinnis, quartered then sliced every ΒΌ-in. or less
4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cans northern white beans or cannellinis if you prefer them ( I don't drain them)
2 chicken breasts
chicken broth, 32 oz. carton
4 tbsp oregano flakes
2 dashes cayenne pepper powder
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1 veg. bouillon cube
olive oil
salt, pepper

I've made it twice now, and I think that's everything. First, cover the bottom of the pot with water (just enough water to cover it thinly). Add the whole chicken breasts, cover them lightly with olive oil, salt/pepper, and half of the seasonings (oregano, cayenne, and cumin). Cover and cook on medium high until the chicken is done all the way through. Add the onion and cook with the lid off until the onions begin to clarify and even caramelize a little bit. Remove the chicken breasts and let them cool.

Into the pot, add the chicken broth, cubed potatoes, zukes, the bouillon cube, the bay leaves, and the other half of the seasonings. Bring to a low boil for 15-20 mins, or until the potatoes are fork-soft. In the meantime, chop the chicken into small bits and open the beans. After the potatoes have softened, reduce the heat to low, and add the chicken and unrinsed beans. Next, let it simmer for whatever time you have, at least 30 minutes.

Served it tonight with cheddar biscuits and apple slices, much to everyone's satislipsmackingfaction. I think of it as an unexpectedly savory mix between an Italian wedding soup and white chili. Add more cayenne if you want the heat, but at these rough measures Is. thought it was okay--not too hot for a tot.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yellow Dressing

Is.'s favorite color is yellow. Sometimes when we ask her what she wants to eat, she answers "yellow." So I picked up a yellow-topped shaker bottle that will from now on hold whatever vinaigrette of the week I have concocted.

This week, it has been The Original Yellow. Put the following into a container:

1 c. salad oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 heaping tbsp. dill weed (fresh if you can get it, but dry will work as long as you have time--a few hours--to let everything loosen up before serving)
1 tbsp. sugar (I can't taste it; probably optional)
1/2 tsp salt (or not)
1/2 tsp black pepper (or not)

I know it breaks from the usual oil-acid ratio most good vinaigrettes strive for. That rule does not have jurisdiction here. Next you will stir it together, then transfer it to a jar or bottle of some sort for thorough shaking. Henceforth you will be tempted to eat it on everything, especially leafy greens. For the past three days, I have poured The Original Yellow over Two-pea Salad (summer greens, snow peas, regular old green peas (chilled), nectarine wedges, and crunchy chow mein noodles), submarine sandwiches, and chicken-hummus wraps.

The dressing, by the way, doesn't look yellow. But the ingredients--except for the dill--reflect or bear the resemblance of various hues not far removed from yellow.

If you are not impressed with the dressing, perhaps you will be impressed that this is the 1,000th entry at Earth Wide Moth. That's how fond I am of The Original Yellow.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Sheeshiest


Yesterday for dinner I baked a mac-n-cheese not far off from this recipe. Almost everyone agreed that it turned out well, with the small exception of our connoIs.eur who enjoys heaping helpings of Kraft "noodles" but would have none of the good stuff.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Le Menu

My turn for grocery shopping this week, so I retrieved the goods on 2/10. And here is my plan, school lunch-menu style:

Monday: Vegetable chili (var. of this) with a loaf of thin-sliced sourdough.
Tuesday: Applesauce pancakes with veg-protein sausages and SW vegetable medley.
Wednesday: Homemade pizzas. Choice: ham, chicken, fresh basil, alfredo OR pepperoni, hot olive mix, tomato sauce.
Thursday: A tear-filled mug of lonesome (as the girls fly west for the weekend and Ph. and I enjoy bottomless bowl-o-cold-cereal?). Maybe a Stauffer's bag meal. Also, I have the materials for chipped beef, a dish I haven't had since 1985.
Friday: Cellophane delight leftovers (as Ph., too, vacates, gone skiing).
Saturday: Erawan Thai take-out in celebration of SU's stunning win over Georgetown.
Sunday: Bowl of popcorn. Reminds me of a teammate in college who was not kidding (even though everyone laughed uncomfortably) when he said he curbed his hunger by filling up on water and going straightaway to sleep.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Alone on a plate, a tingaling is not the most eye-appealing treat of the season. But what of it? What their presentational aesthetic lacks is recovered ten times over in their flavor. These are indulgent, easy cookies.


Just like I do every year (it is customary), I mixed together a batch of them the other day. When I was a kid, these were a sure bet: a seasonal staple. They were in all of my grandparents' kitchens (or cookie tins, elsewhere positioned) at the holidays. These simple cookies are, for me, like a portal to another time and place. By scent alone they relocate me in Sheboygan, Wisc., fill my head with strong impressions of that happy, recurrent scene that played out year after year throughout the late 70's and early 80's.


First, the family recipe:
1 - 8 oz. bag of butterscotch chips
1 - 6 oz. bag of semisweet chocolate chips
1 - 4 oz. can of chow mein noodles
1 - cup salted Spanish peanuts

When I made them the other day, however, I used the following combination for a double-batch:
2 - 8 oz. bags of butterscotch chips
1 - 8 oz. bag of milk chocolate chips
2 - 6 oz. bags of chow mein noodles
2 - cups dry roasted peanuts

Combine the crunchy noodles and the peanuts in a medium bowl. In a glass dish, melt the chips into a liquid. I did this using a medium setting in the microwave. Pour the melted chocolate and butterscotch over the dry ingredients in the bowl. Stir it together until everything is covered. Spoon the mixture onto parchment, wax paper, or aluminum foil, and let cool.

The gobstuff archive at E.W.M.--a well of alimentary delights--would not be complete (nor ready for The Food Network to sponsor) without this recipe in it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Are You Going to Eat That Roll?

Unfortunately, I will miss SU's "Graduate Student Etiquette Dinner" on Thursday evening because it conflicts with my teaching schedule. Nevertheless, I've been reflecting on my manners and whether they're elegant enough for a professional meal. Consider this an opening for you to add your insights on dinner etiquette to this short list I've started.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

All You Can Eat

It's very rare that we eat at buffets. The quality of buffet food, in nearly all cases, is degraded by the bulk effect. Yet, with buffets come choices, flexibility, a hot-n-ready preparedness that means no waiting. buffet.jpgLast night we were out and about gathering up new cleats and shin guards for Ph.'s approaching soccer season (pre-season starts tomorrow). We stopped off at Old Country Buffet for dinner. The food was exactly the same as it is at every Old Country Buffet. It triggered a few memories.

I haven't eaten at an Old Country Buffet or any buffet for that matter since we moved to New York in 2004. I might be wrong about this; I can't remember if I had lunch with my aunt and uncle at a Ponderosa last summer. Seems so. Seems like it was a buffet. Seems like I suffered mightily for the entire drive home from Cooperstown to Syracuse. Might-ily, might-ily.

In Kansas City it was somewhat more common for us to go to an all-you-can eat joint. One Chinese restaurant near where we lived had a nice set of options, and the buffet there was affordable. Made as much sense, I mean, to go with the buffet rather than ordering an entree. And the river boat casinos in KC, like most casinos I've been in, go overboard with their buffets. Even there, we ate at them occasionally--when family was visiting (usually because nobody can agree on what would be a decent meal).

I remember that we went to buffets sometimes when I was a kid. I was trained early on that the point of a buffet is to get one over on the unwitting restaurant management by cramming your pie-hole with the most rare and valuable foods. Do not eat the insta-mix mashed potatoes (valued at .003 dollars per unit measure) but instead eat breaded shrimp (.179 per unit measure). That'll show them! We'll get our money's worth. Also, eat enough for the next day. And the next day after that if you can stomach it. Buffet-eating is a science; it must be executed flawlessly so that not one cent of the $9.95 would be spent in vain. This also meant no pop (we called 'soda' pop in Mich.) and no starches. Even when it was the Arthur Treacher's Friday night all-you-can eat fish buffet, it was better if we munched whitefish fillet after whitefish fillet rather than fries and hush puppies.

In college, conference schools were located on the east side of Missouri and in southern Illinois. During any given basketball season, we'd drive the I-70 corridor as many as six or seven times for our away games at Harris-Stowe, Missouri Baptist, Lindenwood, or Columbia College. From Kansas City, St. Louis is a four hour drive by bus. And because buffets offer choices, flexibility, a hot-n-ready preparedness, we would stop, on most road trips, at the same Old Country Buffet somewhere around O'Fallon or St. Charles. Same spot, year after year. Same buffet spread--the same, in fact, as we saw last night here in Syracuse.

When I was a freshman, I didn't see consistent minutes, but neither could I predict when one of the bigs ahead of me would get into foul trouble, so I had to prepare as if. Well, in one of those first trips to St. Louis--a trip to play at Mo. Baptist--we stopped at the Old Country buffet. I sat at a table with "Oozy" a senior who got his nickname because he shot wildly and unrestrainedly without a care for how many he'd taken. We were running a bit late for the game, and I mentioned to Oozy that I would not be stuffing myself in case I saw some court time later that night. He laughed at me, reminded me how good MBC was that year, and told me I was foolish if I left the Old Country anything short of full. Made sense.

So I had two or three plates of bread pudding.

Well, of course, the story would have it that our starting center picked up three fouls in the first five minutes of action. I played that night, played more than I had in any other game up to that point in the season. And I did it while feeling so desperately full and nauseous that I couldn't wait for it to end (the stomach pain, not the game). Buffets would never be the same for me after that. And now, nearly 15 years later, I can't walk into a buffet without retelling the story about Oozy and the wrongheaded advice he gave me at the Old Country Buffet just outside of St. Louis.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Poco de Pica


During the summer of '00, I spent six weeks in Xalapa, Veracruzana, studying language and culture at the Universidad de Veracruzana while on excursion from UMKC, the institution from which I took my MA in Aughtgust of aught-aught (language requirement completed). Typical arrangements: in pairs, students were matched with families. I lived with a family on the south side of Xalapa, maybe two miles from the Universidad's space near the central district; out the family's dining room windows, we looked toward Orizaba during most morning and evening meals.

It was full-on immersion in so far as everyone spoke Spanish all of the time. Well, with the exception of moi, what with my cincuenta-palabra vocabulario. I learned quickly, but also I struggled constantly to translate, most of the time relying on any and all Latinates I could find to conjure them into statements with any meaning whatsoever.

I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, asking simple questions about food prep, while watching how this or that was put together. Having learned food terms in nearly all of the formal Spanish language courses I'd taken in the U.S., the kitchen was safe-seeming--a space of performance, props, and action verbs, a place where conversations about things in our midst were as common as talk about things out there, elsewhere (the latter type was far harder for me to follow).

I was thinking about the time in Xalapa earlier this evening as I was putting together pico de gallo for the second time this week. I don't remember eating much pico de gallo where I stayed, although variations of it were common at all of the restaurants. I learned a small amount about peppers during those six weeks, most importantly how to request just a "small amount of heat," un poco de pica--that's how el madre de mi casa, o mama Xalapena, suggested I say it, anyway.

Tonight I was cutting the tomatoes and wondering about the literal translation. Couldn't remember it. So I looked it up. Pico de gallo, the concoction of onion, tomato, jalapeno, and cilantro, translates to "beak of the rooster." The phrase gets at any of three characteristics or qualities of the salsa: the bright, bold colors of the dish, the minced texture, or the small stings of heat from the peppers. I favor "small stings."

From poco de pica, or small amount of heat, the poco de translates literally into "little of" or "tiny amount of." But "pica" is somewhat trickier. Remembering this phrase, too (a lonely association-game at the chopping counter, a string of peek-sounds streaming through my fading language memory), I had to look it up. Pica? A slice of pica|nte, most likely (picante trailing to spicy heat or that which is risque). Regionally varied, pica goes to pick or pickax, spade (implements) or resentment and irritation (sentiments). Picante, because it is a food term, makes sense, but it's not far from picada (i.e., sting or bite). Poco de pica, then as a small amount of heat, a dab of the risque, or the culinary punctum--a sting or bite for the palate, a pleasurable irritant. Maybe punctum enters the expanded sensorium by way of poco de pica, tiny heat. As for the second, temporally located punctum; tomorrow the small heat will have not only lasted, but spread, its sting expansive, radiant, and emissive.

If you've made it to this point, you must want the recipe. Bear in mind that the heat from grocery-store peppers will vary drastically.

1 med. onion
6-8 med. tomatoes
+/- 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro (if you're pulling the leaves from stems, +/- 8 stems)
2 jalapenos
1 tsp. ea. of sea salt, coarse black pepper, and garlic powder
2 tbs. olive oil

Dice the onion and tomatoes (I leave the seeds from the tomato, but if you like it dry, get rid of them). Julienne then fine-chop 1.5 jalapenos. Onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos go into a bowl. Add sea salt, coarse black pepper, and garlic powder. Into the blender with .5 jalapenos, fresh cilantro, and olive oil. For added water weight (so you have a critical mass of mixables in the blender), add a hunk of tomato or onion, or up the vol. of olive oil. Pour this onto ingredients in the bowl. Spoon toss and chill. It'll be livelier on the second day. Use limes to cut the heat if it becomes too intense. Also, you can tune the heat somewhat by electing to leave in the pepper seeds (for far more heat) or getting rid of them (for less heat).


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fan Mail: A Softer Dough

From the EWM mail bag, a reader writes:

My friend,

I tried the pizza crust you gushed about last month in your entry titled, "The Dough Is Now Ready." How can I put this? It was absolute crapola! Too hard! I nearly broke my tooth (although I was good humored enough to enjoy a chuckle at the thought that you put up a hoax crust recipe on your blog and I fell for it). Seriously, I thought I was eating the pizza stone--munching away on ham-n-mushroom smothered rocks. You should have said "The Dough Is Now Ready to Repave a Chuckhole" or something.

Never again,

Gullible in San Diego, Calif.

Wow. I feel terrible. So I have responded (most EWM mail goes directly to recycling or goes the way of DEL).

Dear G.,

Another month of experimenting with the dough has, in fact, revealed to me that I was cooking it for too long. Nearly 10 minutes too long! The amended recipe is below (a variation on this). And I have enclosed a pack of Trident to relieve your ailing mouth parts.

2 tsp. sugar
2 packets of yeast
1 1/2 cups water (warm to touch; appr. 100-110 F)

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 c. olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Add spices, if you want to: garlic powder or whatever.

Pour half of the water into a glass or bowl with the sugar and yeast. Stir. Allow the yeast five minutes to activate. The yeast-sugar mixture should be foamy when you combine it with all of the other ingredients in a food processor. Mix all ingredients for a couple of minutes in the food processor. Everything should gather together in this process, forming a mass. Remove the mass (i.e. dough ball) from the processor and knead it by hand 20-30 times. Put it into a bowl, coat the ball with olive oil, cover the bowl with a towel. After one hour, punch it down. After a second hour (or 45 mins), it's ready to roll out. Makes two pizzas.

Heat the oven to 450F. Split the dough ball into equal parts and roll flat (always rolling from the center, unless your skilled with the toss). Dust the sheet or stone with corn flour to prevent sticking, then place the rolled/tossed dough. Cover with toppings. Cook for 17 minutes (split this time evenly if you are reversing the rack positions of the two pizzas).

This will give you a softer dough.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Dough Is Now Ready

Lately, D., Ph., and I have been experimenting toward a better homemade pizza. The toppings have been relatively easy. We have been simulating a couple of favorites from Minsky's in Kansas City--the chicken cordon bleu and the buffalo style chicken.

Cordon Bleu and Buffalo Chicken Pizzas

The toppings for each are as follows:

Cordon bleu: alfredo sauce, fresh basil, one chicken breast (cubed), ham (slivered, sliced into squares), green olives. Top with ~8 ounces of mozzarella or provolone.
Buffalo style chicken: cayenne hot sauce (I've been using Frank's), julienne carrots, one chicken breast (cubed), a few lines of ranch or blue cheese dressing. Top with ~8 ounces of mozzarella.

We've also tossed together more conventional pizzas: regular (cheese); pepperoni; or ham, mushroom, and pineapple, the one we had last night (along with a chicken cordon bleu). Yes, in fact, it has become a veritable pizzeria around here. Ah, I almost forgot to mention the reuben pizza (a.k.a. Big Reu): thousand island, kraut, corned beef, and a swiss/mozzarella blend. Very much like a reuben sandwich. It would've been better with a rye crust, no doubt.

All along the key has been the dough, the crust. I've tried store-bought mixes, pre-made (frozen) balls of dough from here and there, Pillsbury, and so on. In recent weeks we've experimented with homemade crust, however, and today I worked from a recipe that turned out good enough that I think we'll stick with this one for a while. I mixed it in the food processor before kneading it by hand; the combination was a little bit sticky, so it took more flour to get it right. I followed everything in the recipe except that I split the four cups of flour into two cups of whole wheat and two cups of all-purpose because we wanted whole wheat crust. I also added a tablespoon of honey, but the flavor, in the end, was barely noticeable. After rolling out the dough, I forked holes into the surface and pre-baked the crust for seven minutes at 400F before adding the toppings. With the toppings added, I baked them for twenty minutes at 400F, reversing their rack positions from top to bottom and bottom to top after ten minutes. Perfect. Best pizza I've ever had a hand in making.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Curd Age

To the Californian who was guided here today on a Google search for "cottage cheese expirations," I have only one insight to offer:

Seriously, it's not worth it.

Disclosure: I'm merely a fan of the cottage cheese, not an expert.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Notes from the Kitchen

Two gripes from the a.m.:
1. Separating the cheap coffee filters I bought recently requires an micro-beam laser. Not that I could hold the device steady if I had one. I had Is. in one arm while trying to pull away a single filter for what must have been ten minutes. Like youthfulness, my dexterity is diminishing at an alarming rate. Is. probably thought it was some kind of early morning game where I just fiddle around with coffee filters for the pure pleasure in it (the crinkling, the one-finger edge-brush, the sighs and grumping).
2. The wedge-dividing membranes in the naval oranges I bought Sunday at P&C are far more chewy, thick, and pulpy than I could've imagined even in my worse nightmares about eating oranges. Eating one danged orange wedge requires more jaw work than mowing ten pieces of Super Bubble for half a day. Without removing the wrappers! Plain nasty, and with a thick, clingy albedo (I had to pull McPhee's Oranges from the shelf to remember what it was called, the white rind-like stuff...hate it, even if it's high in nutrients).

For lunch, I ate a bowl of strawberry Frosted Miniwheats. Curreal. Had to be swift because I was on baby-watch.

Tonight, it was microwaved baking potatoes. I know it sounds ho-hum, but all the taste buds for meters around sit up and take notice on basked potato night. See, our only rule in the house is that we must top the potato to the critical threshold at which it is pleasingly suspended between healthful and gluttonous. Only then does the potato break free from its plain-tasting state and parade around in flavor combinations never before savored. Plus, we had leftover chili to boot. One other thing about those potatoes. Lately I've been coating them in olive oil with a sprinkle of salt before I nuke them. Call it a skin enhancer (the idea for which I owe an appreciative nod to my brother). Crisp and salty, such that you'll forget it's not terrible for you.

Friday, January 5, 2007


Sugar depressed? Down in the right-eating caloric dumps? Suffering from post-holidaysal dietary balance? Worry not! Today is Peanut Butter Pie Friday.

Peanut Butter Pie

Okay, so you get the picture. I cooked up a pair of delightfully peanut-buttery PB pies a few minutes ago, working from a recipe given to me by a co-worker in the gig I was working nine years ago. The conversation went approximately as follows: D: That PB pie is really good. Co-worker: Want the recipe? D: Okay, why not.

I have not had the peanut butter pie since. Not this peanut butter pie nor any other. Not one time.

However. When I went recipe-digging about ten days ago, I ran across the index card. It said this:

Peanut Butter Pie

1 c milk
1 c boiling water
2 1/2 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c peanut butter
3/4 c sugar
3 egg yolks

Mix peanut butter and boiling water until smooth. Mix corn starch, sugar, salt, egg yolks with mix. Combine with peanut butter mixture and cook until thick.

The procedure for crust is on the back of the card, which is signed, surprisingly enough, L.L. Dec. 1997. For the crust it's a fairly straight-forward combination of flour, shortening, and water. As you can see in the photo, I lazied my way around the crust-making labors and grabbed some Keebler pre-mades from P&C. One graham cracker and one chocolate-graham, directly from the elves. And why make pies? We're visiting with friends tomorrow afternoon, and I was appointed to the desserts.

You needn't wait until next January to try the recipe. Heck, as far as I care, any Friday can be a P.B.P.F. Or every Friday. But most especially the Friday that's one day before EWM turns three. Whatever. You and your calories (which will take on a life all their own) can thank me later because, believe me, the joys of cooking a peanut butter pie are no ordinary joys of cooking.

Added: I doubled the measures to make the two pies shown above.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Eat Your Rhizomes

I'm fairly competent with the pureed soups, and so I try to mix one up every now and again, especially when D. or Ph. mention it (and it's also my week for meals). Today it was a finely blended Tuber Taproot Rhizome (aka, Sweet Potato Carrot Ginger) Soup garnished with chopped honey roasted peanuts and set alongside thin-sliced sourdough from Panera. It's really a fortunate accident of fate that I can cook much of anything (i.e., lots of kitchen time as a kid), but this one turned out okay. Edible-plus.

Today's soup was inspired by a fancy-schmancy luncheon I attended a few years ago (the semi-pro hoops team in KC was pitching the idea of using our facilities for their practices). More quickly to the point: there was a sweet potato and ginger soup at that lunch meeting, and I haven't had anything like it since. Until today.

Guessing at quantities, I worked with two medium sized onions, 12-14 carrots, 2.5 sweet potatoes, and a hunk of fresh ginger root the size of two fingers (pointer and bird, to be exact). I set the carrots and onions and peeled ginger root to a low boil so they would soften (enough water just to cover things up); meanwhile, I nuked the sweet potatoes. Next, I peeled the softened potatoes, lowered the heat on the stove, and threw them in along with a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, two chicken bouillon cubes, and a pinch of nutmeg. (Note that this is a rather large batch; half the qty. of carrots, onions, and sw. potatoes would be just fine for a meal).

At this point, everything is stewing together, softening up, making friends. Next, I ladled it into the blender (we don't have a submersible stick-blender!), added a cup or so of half-n-half, and blended it smooth. Then back into the pan (before doing this, I emptied the kettle into a bowl to avoid any chance of unincorporated solids lingering in the puree). Again and again. I used between a pint and a quart of half-n-half (any other sort of milk or cream would be fine, I suppose, although cooking with skim can make a mess of things I think; might be wrong about that). At the end, in the final blender-full, I included a cup of plain yogurt. I have no good reason why (did I see some other recipe like this?), and I'm not convinced it improved the T-T-R soup. Your call.

I see now that this delectable improvisation doesn't resemble a recipe. So here's an approximation of what I mixed. It's a recipe I Googled when I was halfway through the process of softening the vegetables and thinking about how to season such an unplanned thing.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


For dinner, a spinach fritatta.

Spinach Frittata

Both of these kids might've wished for a taste, but have some, regrettably, they could notta.

Is. Yoki

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Meal Ideas

Figures that the last week of July would be my week for groceries. I'm heading to the store in a few minutes, until then, preparing mentally for the mealy week ahead. Here's what I've got so far:

Day One (Monday): Ph. has a soccer match at 7:15. In the mosquito hatchery that doubles as Wetlands Soccer Park. IOW, we'll be the dinner. Home by 9. Actual dinner: microwave popcorn with popsicles for dessert (only if it's a win).
Day Two: Our third wedding anniversary. Celebrating a superfine three years. D. and I eat at a respectable restaurant, while Ph. sits at home, playing PS2 and eating graham crackers (relax, they're honey graham crackers).
Day Three and Four: Where have the appetites gone? Y. (who reminds me more and more of a junkyard Snoopy) is still sick. Poor lil' guy. But damn! Nobody's hungry.
Day Five: Creamed corn casserole. Too hot to bake, so I put the microwave to work. And work. it. does. Which is more than we can say for the washing machine or dishwasher. Hey Maytag, are we unlucky or should these rusty &^% appliance go to the scrap-heap?
Day Six: Nearing expirations on the many milks in the refrigerator. Dinner idea: dairy consumption contest. Vanilla soy milk, 2%, skim. Oh, and why not: yogurt, sour cream, half-n-half and cottage cheese.
Day Seven: It's the end of my week, which saddens me just a little bit. For a mood-lift, we splurge on double-toasted everything bagels and cokes (Coke floats if I pick up some ice cream).

For breakfasts: Cinnamon Life, wheat germ and PB toast.

I'm gone to the store.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

There Will Be No-Baking

I was standing in Home Depot this afternoon, browsing from item to item in the faucet aerators section of aisle ten. Yeah, we rent, but the kitchen faucet doesn't have an aerator, and so it gushes out far more water than we need or than is conservationally astute. I needed a fitting--a 15/16" double threaded, male-male to cobble together the faucet and the swivel head aerator we picked up the other day. But there were none. So I asked for help, but instead of talking to someone prepared to answer customer questions, I got an orange-frocked body in a trance: "We got nothing." No more discouraged, I asked another clerk. He scanned the same aerator section--just like I'd done twenty minutes before--and said, "We don't have anything like that." Damn. So I snapped open the flip-phone; dialed my big brother. He'd have to know an alternative.

Only he didn't answer. So I exchanged the swivel-head aerator for a conventional one and stepped back into the cold.

Next, J. called me back. By this time, I was on my way to P&C--our most recent grocery store of choice--for a few things to make meals come together in the week ahead. J. said he'd been on the phone with our grandmother because he was tracking down a recipe for nutter butters. Not the peanut-shaped cookies in the red package. These nutter butters were a treat from long ago. I would have claimed them as my favorite cookie for most of my childhood. Inexplicably, I'd pretty well surrendered any notion of them to the faded-forgottens of my memory, but since I was on the way to the grocery store anyway, I asked J. for the recipe (it was too late for his wisdom to rescue me from the aerator dilemma). Turns out the recipe--as my grandma told it to him--was my mom's. In fact, grandma read it to J. from a copy my mom had handwritten many years ago. So I figured, sure, that's all the motive I need to pick up the ingredients and stir together a batch. They're no-bakes--perfect balled-up cookies and good for involving kids in the kitchen. I came home and no-baked a batch tonight.

Nutter Butters

Into a bowl:

1 cup chunky peanut butter
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup powdered milk
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (appr. one package yields this amount)

Nutter Butter No-bakes Nutter Butter No-bakes II

Incorporate the ingredients as well as you can. Next, dip out a clump and roll it into the shape of a super ball. Then drop it into a bowl of wheat germ or coconut, rolling it until it is coated. Repeat over and over again until all of the mix is used up. Also, for variety, I guess you can include a few chips (either chocolate or b'scotch), but I don't ever remember eating NBs with these add-ons as a kid, and I can't vouch for how it will turn out. Depending on the size of the cookie balls, you can get between 36-48 from these measures.

On account of the time-suck I endured at Home Depot and losses by the Bears and Colts, I can't give the day a high score overall. But it most definitely enjoyed a lift because of these cookies.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The More You Eat, Less Nights

Chorus to the Leftover Sup March when we have a huge vat of boiled dinner in this house, like we do now.  It's a rare feast (loaded with cabbage, of course).  Unpopular as it is, I figure I might as well stir up enough to hold over for a few days, what with it being the greyed-together days of early January and all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Sopa de Mezclada

Picked up this one during my days in Xalapa, Veracruzana in '00. 

Sopa de Mezclada

Cut two onions, three potatoes (onions and potatoes: fist-sized) and 10-14 large carrots into big chunks.  Drop them in a pot with water just below the top of the vegetables.  The onions will reduce into liquid while boiling, so the space they take up is temporary.  Salt the water; I don't know, a teaspoon or two.  Cover and boil for thirty or forty minutes until everything is soft.  The smaller you cut everything, the faster this part will go, but I don't have any patience for working the vegetables when I know they're going to end up blended.

When the vegetables have softened (if in doubt, remove a carrot, check it), cut the ends off of a single green chile (alternative: a jalapeno) and drop it in the boiling mix.  Cover the pot again and give it another 7-10 minutes.  Basically, this just softens the pepper.  You could go to all the trouble of preparing the chile in other, more complicated ways, but basically I want it to soften so I can remove it to cool, slice it lengthwise, pull out the seeds, and have it ready to join up smoothly with everything else in the blender (that's next).

When the vegetables are soft, you should transfer them to a holding bowl or alt. pot for blending.  I transfer them so I can easily empty the blended soup into the original pot.  Next, use a ladle to fill the blender between 2/3 and 3/4 with the boiled vegetables and the hot liquid they cooked in. Then I add 2% milk to fill the blender just a bit more; somewhere close to 7/8 full.  Then blend.  I'd say it works best when you have enough liquid to incorporate the vegetables.  You want them to be smooth (unless you prefer chunks in the soup; if that's the case, best of luck).  Blend and blend.  And then pour the blend-pitcher into the original pot.  Repeat.  Be sure to work in the green chile.  It adds the kick. 

Eventually you'll have a steamy concoction of more or less creamy vegetable soup, carrot soup in this example.  Next I  add about three or four teaspoons of dry chicken or vegetable bullion, then let it simmer for another thirty minutes.  Sure, extra pepper and salt are fine additions, too.  And if you decide to sub out the carrots and use squash instead, consider adding ginger (for a nice cream of gingery squash soup).  Actually, you can replace the carrots with just about anything--zucchini, asparagus, etc.  And, if you're into richer dairy (as in something creamier), leave out the potatoes and use a heavier cream.  I'm not so fond of the dairy products, so I include the potatoes for thickening and use a bit of milk. 

That's all.  I know it's not the kind of recipe circulated by cooking-types inclined to strict measures.  But it's relatively light, uncomplicated and just spicy enough to ward off the common cold or offset a drafty window with some lasting warmth (yes, and also gentle on grad student budgets).  Enjoy it with some quick-nuked quesadillas (tortillas, cheese(s) of choice, etc.) or something more elaborate if you're planning a fancier meal.  Also keep a lime on hand in case anyone finds the soup too spicy.  A squeeze of fresh lime juice will cut the spice-heat by a bit.

If you're unimpressed, here's last December's solstice recipe.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Berbere on Injera

I rarely write about recipes for a couple of reasons: (-1-) I'm not good at keeping a record (measures, notes, images) of what I'm doing when I cook and (-2-) I rarely follow recipes.  Instead, I work with what I've got on hand, and as often as it turns out great, it turns out, well, just so-so.  Berbere sauce, the Ethiopian treat E. taught me how to make, might be one of the few exceptions in terms of consistency.  When I make it, I'm generally satisfied with the results; it's not easy to make it badly, in other words.  And so, because I'm making berbere sauce for topping the injera we carried home from Rochester Friday, I thought to break down the rough process I follow, blog the making of this stuff (because I'm crazy about it, and I mention it here at least once a month).

First, close the doors to all non-vital rooms.  The onions can be overpowering, and they'll linger in your clothes, seep from your pores, and make you think you smell of them for at least at day.  Obviously the more fresh air circulating around your cooking space, the better.

Here's what I'm using to cook for the three of us (D., Ph. and me) plus company.  You should know, too, that I like to carry this stuff forward for a couple of meals, so I cook to have leftovers.  This amount should last at least two meals, maybe three--for three people.  So, serves nine or so?

Today, I'm using six fist-sized yellow onions, two small tomatoes, two boneless chicken breasts, a small can of tomato paste, a cup+ of vegetable oil and a basic mix of seasonings: salt, garlic powder, seasoned salt, and berbere powder.  Berbere powder is a mix of roasted spices; you can order it online or pick it up from a specialty foods shop. You can make the sauce without the chicken or substitute chicken for beef (chunkable beef rather than hamburger).  The tomato paste is also optional.  It thickens the sauce and deepens its red color, but what it adds in terms of flavor is negligible in my opinion.

  Chicken and Onions Ingredients

To begin, in a large pot, heat the oil.  I usually start with about a cup, then add depending on whether it looks like enough.  Basically, my gauge is that the onions should seem thoroughly oiled while cooking.  Heat the oil, then add the chopped onions.  I halve the onions and use a food processor to break them down into small pieces.  Lately, I've been starting with room-temperature onions, chopping them in the processor, then putting them in the refrigerator for a few hours.  When the come out of the refrigerator, their liquid is somewhat separated and easy to drain.  This makes for a drier start to the process, but it boosts the capillary effect of the onions as they mix with the oil (and eventually the spices), so as they emulsify, they pick up a nicer flavor--or so I like to think, whether or not the science holds up.

Tomatoes Oil in Pan

Okay.  The oil is heated.  You've added the chopped onions.  Stir it regularly over high heat for about twenty minutes.  Add a small bit of water if it seems too thick or prone to burning (lower the heat just a bit, too).  Next, add a teaspoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of seasoned salt (regular salt will work too), and a heaping tablespoon of berbere powder.  Also drop in the tomatoes.  I halve the tomatoes then slice them thin; you can use one tomato or two.  Stir, stir, stir, reduce the heat just a small bit, and continue to cook/stir for another ten minutes.

Onions and Oil Berbere Powder

Add the chicken.  Stir, stir.  Reduce the heat just a bit.  Then let it cook.  Maybe a half hour.

Everything Except Meat On Injera

So the actual cooking part takes about an hour.  You can cook it longer; it only improves the flavor of the chicken.  What you have will be a chili-like consistency--a berbere sauce ready for putting atop spaghetti or injera.  If you want to make this more like Doro W'et, you can add a couple of whole boiled eggs with slits in the sides (add them around the same time as the meat...after the sauce is relatively well established).  And you could use bone-in chicken, but that would probably add ten or fifteen minutes to the cook time.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Summer Gotaway

It wasn't exactly the two-day leave I'd hoped for just before the first hard kick of fall semester activity; I was counting on a couple of nights in NYC, Lake Placid or possibly Vermont, but (my) poor planning left D. and me with tame options by comparison, and so a late-summer mini-vacation (while Ph.'s away with friends for four days at the New Jersey shore) dwindled into an over and back day-trip to Rochester.  Yeah, summer vacation dream.  Although, as things turned out, it wasn't such a bad turn of events after all, especially when you consider that we followed up on the recommendation of the cab driver who, back in March, shuttled me from Rochester to Syracuse when my flight home from San Francisco was so long delayed in Chicago.  On a scrap of paper he scrawled the name and address of an Ethiopian Restaurant in Rochester: Abyssinia, 80 University Ave.  That's where we stopped for lunch today. Doro W'et on fresh injera (bread).

Abyssinia Restaurant

We had other business in Rochester.  D. was scouting out the Rochester Museum and Science Center as a prospective field trip site for her students.  The museum and science center, as you might expect, is one part science-themed romper room (live on screen weather reporting...I sucked at that...filled up the whole TV screen: "Tomorrow, we'll see a high of...damn, sorry, I'm in the way...just trust me."  Graceful as always.) and part curatorial archive.  Want quiet?  Head to the third floor stuff on Rochester histozzz.  Sizing up the whole place, I'd say the first exhibit, Turbulent Landscapes, had some of the best stuff:  demos of sand storms and plate tectonics in action.  Still, no question a full-on Ethiopian meal was the highlight of the day.  First injera I've had in more than a year; there aren't any Ethiopian restaurants in Syracuse (will somebody please do something about that?). I even walked out the door with an order of injera para llevar--nine pieces for about six bucks.  For the terrific quality of service, great food (order light bc the portions!) and fresh injera, it was well worth the trip, a trip I think I can justify making again if only for Abyssinia.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Eat Fresh as in Sparse, Wilted

On the way to Green Lakes Tuesday we stopped off at a local Subway for lunch, planned to take it to go--for picnicking in the sun at the state park.

D. and Ph. ordered before me, D. getting the usual turkey simple and Ph. something adventurous-else (ham?).  He wanted to order the dressings I usually get, but we didn't figure that out until later on in the car.  I'll say in just a second what the preferred Subway sandwich dressings are, but first I want to be clear about a gripe I have with the sandwich shop and so many of its franchises.

Occasionally, I order a Veggie Delight, Subway's all vegetable fare (foot-long, of course, so I don't dwindle away).  When I ordered a Veggie Delight the other day, one patent and widespread Subway sandwich-making bias was eminent:  sandwiches require meat.  The sub I took from the store was disappointingly light, airy; it was a sub with room to spare for meat, in this sense.  A dressings sub; toppings as accessory rather than feature.  But I ordered a sandwich featuring vegetables; no delight in the disconcertingly thin toppings I found there.

I could solve this recurrent mini-crisis by ordering a sub with meat.  I'm fond of the Spicy Italian sandwich, for example, and I get the same dressings on it that I ask for on a Veggie Delight.  The Spicy Italian is hearty; the Veggie Delight: like a Spicy Italian without the meat.  It's thin, feeble.  I'm interested in a heartier veggie sub.  How nice it would be.

To be more solution oriented, here's a list of precepts for veggie-sub making.  Subway, take these to heart:

If I order a Veggie Delight, I

1.  am not necessarily a fanatic vegetarian who wants a dinky, empty sandwich.
2.  don't want the butts and ends of either tomatoes or jalapenos.  Please don't put them on my sandwich.  I'm begging you. 
3.  want reasonably fresh tomatoes and double the normal allotment of lettuce.  The other day, for instance, one of the sandwich makers was switching old tomatoes into a new tomato container by tonging them one at a time into the new bucket.  The manager intervened by telling the sandwich maker she was going too slow.  She responded: "I didn't think we should have the old juice on the new tomatoes."  The manager, saying nothing, grabbed the old plastic bucket and flipped it onto the new bucket, dumping the juice and dreg-tomatoes onto the fresh.  Sandwich maker made a face expressing eeeww!.
4. prefer fresh lettuce.

That's it.  That's all I've got.  So much to ask?

Now, about the optimal toppings (the ones Ph. was trying to simulate without asking for help):  American cheese (or not...this is no real difference-maker), lettuce, tomato, onion.  Green peppers, black olives, jalapenos. Salt, pepper, vinegar, oil.  One line of yellow mustard and two-three lines of mayo.  (Yeah, I leave the pickles, cucumbers and banana peppers for the next person in line.  Considerate, eh?  Go ahead and have a whole sub chocked with 'em.).

Perhaps my expectations for fast food are too high.  The make-it-in-front-of-you-at-a-glass-counter dynamic probably contributes to my sense that the Veggie Delight is diminishing in a worker-assembly habit clearly conditioned by the dressing of meat-filled sandwiches.  I hope one day to have a good Veggie Delight, and yet, as I say that, it makes good sense to me that I might, instead, forget about getting decent vegetables at any kind of fast food joint.  Hell, I could just as easily go to McDonald's or Taco Bell and order a salad to more quickly restore the Delight I'm supposed to experience when I order a meager veggie sub from Subway.  Must be some lesson to take from all of this.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Olivilities Gardententiality

Dietarily speaking, quite a day!  No. of Italian restaurants I ate at/from today: due.  Other than a bowl of Life cereal to kick start things this morning (oh, and one caramel Frappuccino drink this afternoon--the first caffeinated beverage I've enjoyed since May 29), all of my food consumptions, Italian: first at the Olive Garden, then from a place with notable local repute, Pastabilities.  You should know that I didn't have a whole lot of say in either decision, which doesn't really mean anything beyond the alimentary coincidence of fettuccinic proportions.

First came our final class session of the summer term in CCR760.  To cap things off, we gathered at the Olive Garden ristorante on Erie Blvd.  I loaded up on the salad-soup-breadsticks combo.  And we carried on about class stuff after everyone gulped their selections.  All in all, an afternoon well-spent, rounding out a vitally important course abounding with serious and careful attention to genre and writing in academic contexts.  Just one note about the waiter (and I'm not a waiter-complainer usually, fwiw):  by muttering a certain and audible lord's-name-in-vain when I asked him to repeat the soup options, he made it exceedingly clear that he was less than content with something--serving a table full of mostly grad students who would spend the better part of three hours in his section?  I really wanted to know the soup options.  Everyone before me who ordered the same thing I ordered let him get away with the rapidfireindecipherable  blahdieblahminestroneblahdieblah: three soup choices as a single word.  "Minestrone," was the answer from every. other. person. before. me.  Thinking I might not have minestrone, I had to ask.  And when he said (after dropping the whispery J.C.) the last choice was something with sausage and potatoes, I doubled back for option two: the minestrone.  I had the sausage and potatoes selection a long time ago.  For the last time.  I remember distinctly that the sausages were rather like Franco American meatballs who'd wandered their way into my soup, having lost much of their usually savory flavor en route.  Last time.  In the end, the salad and minestrone were quite good; I ate until content; and the class ended on a high note. 

Later when D., Ph., and D.'s sister and nephew from Colorado suggested ordering takeout from Pastablities, I went along with the plan.  I agreeably drove over to Fayette and Franklin.  Parallel parked (so what if nobody was behind me?). Grabbed up the order.  And I'm actually glad I did.  Pastabilities has the absolute best sourdough bread to go with spicy tomato oil for dipping.  That sauce is really what I wanted this weblog entry to be about.  Negative: it's so damn good--dip-my-breadslice, runny-nose tasty--I stuff my poor self.  Overindulge.  But there is something to be said for having Pastabilities after Olive Garden.  And there's also something to be said for blogging this entry instead of accompanying D. and her sister for a long evening walk.  And third, it's an accomplishment unto itself that I don't even have the slightest stomach ache.  Must be something of a soothing quality (spiceopathic remedy?) in the zesty tomato oil.  Or maybe I didn't get enough of it.

Friday, April 1, 2005

The Berbere of April

Today, while Ph. and I were throwing around a lacrosse ball in Thornden Park, the good people from the USPS left a parcel at the door.  Ph. found it when he ran back to the apt. to get a baseball glove because, after two catches, I was already whining that the lacrosse ball was stinging my sensitive paws, especially the one left with blister from yesterday's Festival of Plunge (I *did* eventually clear the drain last night, and then I cleaned the tub just to remind the bathroom fixtures who's in charge of the show).  And inside the package?  A double-bagged pound of berbere powder and two handwritten notes, one each from good friends and former colleagues back in KC, E. and M.  The berbere of April has arrived.  How can I do anything but cook some for the Final Four tomorrow? 

Which reminds me.  You know two weeks ago when I flew into Rochester?  The guy who drove me all the way to Syracuse knew all about the Ethiopian restaurants in Rochester.  And he knew how to make injera.  Behind all of that complaining, I got to talk for 90 minutes about how to make injera.  Nah, still not sure whether I'll have time to give it a try tomorrow, but I can make the sauce either way.

Other than celebrating the berbere of April, I've used up the better part of one good day smoothing out a proposal for the Contesting Public Memories conference here at SU in the fall.  Read a few weblogs.  Goofed around with a new-but-barely-used miniature web cam. Wrote a few lines for an independent study proposal. Ate some Ruffles. Yeah, that's about all.  It's going to be a busy month; no need to over-exert myself on the first day, right?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Everything Everlasting Holiday

Time for a quick entry while dinner's re-heating.  It's Cream of Cleaned-Out-The-Veggie-Drawer soup--a household favorite.  A second night of steamy goodness.  Before D. from the grad program left on a jet-plane to California a few days ago, she dropped a bag of produce by on the way out of town.  What will we do with this?  So I boiled it up, blended-blended, added salt and a splash of milk...soup.  Broccoli, chard, cabbage, potatoes, onions, Brussels sprouts (straight from the stalk).  A sprinkle of grated sharp cheddar.

I was wrong.  Not enough time.  Insert soup-eating break here.Everlasting

Tagged along with D. today on various shopping errands, which meant, of course, that once my chronic mall lethargy started acting up, I just stood back, gawked at all the obligatory spending--people buying up all kinds of stuff.  Now where did I put my other Mastercard?.  Meanwhile, while D. looked hard for relevant stuff, I zeroed in on four stand-out gifts--out-standing because I would've have like this stuff way back when I was a kid.  Four things: Wiggles guitar, Hot Wheels Slimecano, Origami desk calendar, (Everlasting?) Gobstopper Candy Canes, fresh from Wonka's factory. And so I splurged on the canes.  Not like we had any on the tree yet, anyway.

The best part of the holiday break: I can feel the blood rushing back.  Not blog mojo, exactly, but the peace of writing just for the heckuvit. Need to get better at finding rhythms, though, and managing the writing load whilst in the throes of Semester. 

Last bit: as Collin bakes goodies, as Krista searches for a jus-right tree, as the blogosphere's newest Jen iPod-ificates, and as...and as...and as...the online channels seem wonderfully alive.  Because I respect C.'s withholding of recipes (hey, it wouldn't be magic if just anyone could work it), I thought I'd post one of my own.  Okay, one of my mom's.  Not cookies technically, depending on how you define cookies (holiday treat?  heated, cooled, and tasty? sugar? process? warming effect?).  Whatever it is, whiskey slush makes it merrier.

Whiskey Slosh or Whiskeee! Your Worries Away, Frigidaire Style
Together, mix
1 3/4 c. whiskey or 1 pint, + or - a splash
1 large (12 fl.oz.) can frozen orange juice
1 large (12 fl.oz.) can frozen lemonade
3 tea bags or 2 c. of hot tea (pref. generic Lipton to anything flavored)
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar (joker on TV just said something about subbing applesauce for sugar in holiday goodies...not recommended here)
7 c. water
Dump in a plastic bowl. Into the freezer until shavably firm (a few hours).  Scoop into glasses, bowls, etc. 

It has been at least a year since I made a batch, but D. asked today if I'd stir some up.  For more exotic combos, sub out the OJ or lemonade with other citrous frozen concentrates (pineapple juice or orange-straw-banana if you're adventurous...avoid grape). Half batch: divide all ingredients by two. And now that I think of it, by the rule of seasonal logic, this is probably a summertime drink. All the same.  Summery somewhere (sure n'heck not CNY).  Cheers. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

No Amount of Pepper

Question:  How watery can it be and still classify as chili?

water, meat, beans, tomatoes

I boiled up some bland, bland chili for dinner tonight.  Not used to concocting with fresh tomatoes (a gift!).  Upside:  My chili's always more savory on the second night. The key ingredient is time spent together.

Thursday, June 3, 2004

Gobbling SU

Twenty second eatery reviews:
1.  The Varsity.  Perfectly bad food.  Mmm.  Affordable pizza by the slice, cheap beer in plastic cups, curious and not-too-spicy wing sauce, an environ slathered in Syracuse memorabilia.  Recommended by R. Brecke, the only SU alum on the faculty at my current U.  And we ate there twice today: lunch and dinner.  Cholesterol?  No worry.  All hospitals between the restaurant and the hotel.  Plus we walked the long way back through campus this evening, stopping through Crouse Hall to remember where things were and to read some of the postings and messages on office doors.   
2. Munjed's Middle Eastern Cuisine.  Lunched in the Westcott district yesterday.  Ph. and I chomped spilly pockets of beef-lettuce-Mediterranean sauce.  Good eats.  We'll definitely be back.  D. tried out some kind of chicken on a bed of hummus.  Different.  She would've ordered chicken and rice, but they only serve it on Friday and Saturday.  Cool when restaurants have odd menus with some stuff for specific days. 
3.  Genesee Inn continental breakfast.  Fruit, cereal, juice, coffee, yogurt--name it.  All while looking out from the sixth floor concierge room of the recently renovated hotel.  Genesee Inn's a good fit.  Close to campus (four blocks up the hill), clean.
4.  Alto Cinco in Westcott.  We almost ate there for lunch yesterday, but it was so crowded that we slipped next door to Munjed's.  A.C. is popular; it was crowded when we returned in the evening (just down from T. & T.'s house).  They serve handmade Mexican food.  Lots of choices on the menu.  I tried the chicken mole.  Not bad, but next time I'll try something other than the mole.  The catfish burrito or chili relleno thing, maybe.

Other stuff:  D. and I started the day at the OCM-Boces admin offices on Thompson Street (just south of the airport).  Drove up there because D.'s calls from Missouri have been perfectly futile and we thought a drop-in would get us closer to certification.  Missouri and New York don't have a reciprocity agreement, so there's more processing involved.  Funny, we chased around from building to building before we were referred to an elusive "Elaine" in building A.  At the door, they pointed us to the conference room, told us we could call "Elaine" at Ext. 6213.  "Elaine doesn't see people," said Doordesk.  "Sorry."  Surprise that Oz author L. Frank Baum is from Chittenango, just a few minutes up the road?

An older couple in a minivan pulled up to a stop sign, rolled down a window, and asked me where the Genesee Inn was.  "Go down to that light, take a right, it'll be on your right."  Sort of a turning point to give out directions in a new town--especially considering that I was the one puzzling over directions to the same hotel just three days ago. 

We formalized an offer on a house this afternoon.  Will see where that leads.  Figure it's a toss-up since another offer was promised around the same time.  Should know more by the end of next week. Tomorrow we'll snake back through Western New York and Ontario to Detroit.  Rest of the drive on Saturday.  May usual blogging resume before long (remember the good ol' usual days at EWM?).

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Aspirin Commercial and Dino BBQ

Detroit-Indiana, Eastern Conf. Finals, game six: one long aspirin commercial.  Can we get Bayer as a sponsor next time these teams play?  And for the NBA Finals, it would only be fair to let Detroit and Indiana combine teams to play LA.  The Wallaces, Jermaine O'Neal, Rip H., Reggie Miller, Tay-tay Prince, Artest, Billups. That'd be even.

Sampled Dinosaur Barbeque (Willow & Franklin) here in Syracuse tonight.  'Twas a recommendation, so we stopped in for dinner.  Ended up sitting outside; missed some of the blues atmosphere and moto-decor on the inside (although the music was piped al aire libre).  Picked up on a Harley-Davidson theme, but didn't sort out the connection beyond (coincidental?) clues.  The cornbread grubbing sparrows were something new.  Decent barbecue, I'd say, but the sauce was more of a salsa barbecue than the spiced smokehouse stuff we get in KC at spots like Gates.  Not used to seeing vegetables (bits of onion and green pepper?) in the sauce.   A generous smattering of Now-and-Laters and Pistons basketball for dessert.  Is this the worst (perhaps baddest) travelogue ever?  (That's okay.  It's a restaurant review. And a Pistons fanzine.  And an aspirin commercial.)

Sunday, March 21, 2004

All the kids in the house clap your hands


Ph. is 13 today.  Drop the pre-teen rhetoric, old man.  Flan-hole filler on the 13th b-day of Ph.

I remember reading to him from Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends at my folks' house in Raytown.  First time we met.  A poem called "Invisible Boy." 

No, not tonight.  But tomorrow I'll scrap together an entry telling what I can recall from last night's trip to the movie house.  D. and I veered to the left (theater four - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind); Ph. and his pal went to the right (theater sixteen - 50 First Dates).  Spotless Mind follows a premise of memory erasure, the collapse of detail, and so on.  It's more complicated than that (a review tomorrow, he said!), but the promise of fade and crumble has me taking pictures of birthday dinner--so as to preserve it in this computer's pixelated coffer (and depending on your browser configuration, in yours) if not in the nerve endings and chemical stir upstairs.  We may, like a cluster-spread of good, well-connected blog-writers and blog-readers, convene social memories, aggregating endlessly through a tired stretch of collective re-membering, of tonight's dinner and Ph.'s exodus from pure childhood.

Monday, March 8, 2004

Rugknots and Tardig

Saturday morning was unusual; it was the first Saturday morning without a basketball practice since late October.  To fill the time, we made a family outing toRugknots and Tardig midtown KC, picked up a few things at Wild Oats, an organic grocer, then headed over to Waldo on a whim.  See, we got a certificate for a Persian rug from A.--a good friend who runs a gallery in south-central Kansas City, just beyond the Plaza and the campus of UMKC.  We don't get over there often; in fact, we hadn't been in at least a year.  Originally from Persia, just before it switched to Iran in '35, A., now 80-something, gifted us a generous certificate for a 3x5 carpet from his shop; we've put off the visit for the past seven months because of the chaos of our incongruent schedules.  

A life-long chemist by trade, A. wasn't at the shop.  His son-in-law, J., was filling in.  He called A. on the phone, handed it off to me.  A. and I visited for a few minutes, much like we used to, back when I was an undergraduate ghostwriting monthly letters to antique dealers on his behalf.  We met because he and his late wife, P., were alums of my alma mater; I was the recipient of the first award named for his wife, the first recipient after her passing.  And I thanked him with a letter.  He invited me to lunch at the Kabob House, and so on.  Over the phone, A. said he was disappointed to miss us Saturday, but he hoped we would return this week to have lunch with him.  He was giving a talk on chemistry to a group of boy scouts in the afternoon.  Couldn't be at the gallery Saturday for that reason.

J. showed us the 3x5 rugs in the shop.  A new shipment is scheduled for tomorrow--A. already encouraged me to come back then--but J. wanted to familiarize us with the inventory, with the factors that might affect our choice.  And nobody else was in the place; we had time.  I don't have a strong handle on the discourse surrounding Persian rugs.  They are named by region, and the regions are subtle, varying from town to town.  The rugs signify an incredibly rich range of details--about the makers, the pace and process of making, the quality of wool, the colors of die, the age of the piece, the elevation and climate of the environment in which it was made, and the disposition of the maker(s) to symmetry and structure, both in art, and as J. suggested, in civic ideology (where regional variation might be best polled through knot patterns).  I know this last bit seems like a stretch, but as D. and I listened to J. talk for twenty or thirty minutes on Saturday morning, I thought about the importance of reading Middle Eastern (as in East-Turkish, Armenia, Iranian, Afghani, Pakistani, Iraqi) cultures through art-objects such as knotted wool rugs. This seemed like a promising, humanistic alternative to the predictable, often villainizing droll sent through major Western news media.  

So we just listened about the rugs as J. told us that Western buyers generally preferred tidy symmetries, neat symbolic systems (depictions of leaves, flowers, balanced shapes), and complimentary color schemes.  He said it was a European notion to hang a rug as a piece of art, and that rugs were commonly collaborative household or neighborhood projects produced for short-term economic reward (spare money for this or that).  He compared these dynamics to manufactured rugs coming from India and China.  These rugs ship in batches that often follow an identical pattern.  They're all hand-made, but the wool is a lower quality (again, in J.'s opinion), which is why A.'s gallery doesn't carry any such items.  A couple of examples he showed us were really peculiar; one was 35 inches on one end and 42 inches on the other end.  It had a broken border and different colored dies--evidence, J. said, that it was probably a training rug where younger makers were learning to knot or where the rug sat idle for long interruptions, long breaks. 

We left Saturday and headed to the Kabob House (it's on Wornall and 87th or so), filled up on Kansas City's best joojeh kabob, barg, and tardig (crusted rice, bottom of the pot) topped with vegetable stew.  And the house dressing is simply dill weed, olive oil and lemon juice.  I could drink it.  But then I wouldn't need the tea, which is best taken with an occasional sugar cube.  Oh, and the ground sumac peppered generously on top of it all.  That's it.  I'm going to call A. and go back tomorrow. 

Sunday, March 7, 2004

Top-Shelf A&P

A new local grocery store celebrated its grand opening earlier this week.  Today was my turn for getting the food that will fuel our upcoming week, so after Ph.'s scrimmage (is there such a problem as basketball poison? My hoops toxicity level is at an all time high!), he and I popped in at the glitzy Price Chopper to see what all of the hooha was about.  It's Spring Break--what do I need more than beer and Ruffles? And beef jerky for snacks between high-carb meals?  I spend more money when I shop a store for the first time.  I went in today knowing that I would pick up a few extra things.  It comes down to new ways of seeing products, I think.  Or maybe it results from new products.  I'm a ritual grocery shopper. Aisle by tedious aisle, I usually stroll through Bressette's Sun Fresh every other Sunday picking out the bare essentials for meals.  But in a new store, like the one we shopped today, I discover unforeseeable combinations.  Like at the deli counter for example, I picked up a pound of chicken barbeque for sandwiches tonight, since the Sunday evening meal is the start of the new weekly cycle.  Barbeque, brussels sprouts and various pickled garnishes--cukes and beets.  Why not?

The store: like all new stores, it was a spectacle of consumptive splendor.  High shelves, bright lights, and none of the dusty, uncirculated products nobody ever buys--such as blue corn chips or ham and bean box meals.  Surprising sight:  two men wheeling laptop carts with corded scanner wands through the aisles--different aisles--to record the inventory and inform the backroom about barren shelves.  When I worked in a grocery, we actually pulled all of the back stock onto the floor during the night, force-shelved as much as would fit, then carted it all back.  Night after night.  That was twelve years ago.

When we approached the check-out, I saw three familiar students scanning groceries.  I chose lane nine where B., a student from Nairobi who I got to know last semester, was pushing clientele and their products through the line.  I met B. in a class called Reading and Culture for International Students.  And now, today, in our new local Price Chopper, I felt my teaching shrink momentarily.  Although it was bent on critical reading and cultural critique, something about the experience of reading American culture through the checkout line, through the products and purchasing habits of the upwardly affluent and economically safe (right, why was I shopping there?), well, it seemed unusually powerful, unusually telling. 

It's not a bad store, as stores go.  Unlike others places where I tried them once and never went back, the Price Chopper up the street has potential to attract my bi-weekly stroll-grab.  Heck, they even have Vernors (Michigan native ginger ale; I had it every time I was sick as a kid--every time). 

Friday, February 13, 2004

Each Dish Harmless Might Mix Inside, Lub-dub

[Clash Combat Rock]

Home for a late lunch yesterday, a gobbled Ethiopian fingerplate waiting to be eaten since the weekend, injera and spicy, saucy globstuff. The President's dentals were on CNN, pearl rows pocked with 1973 repairs. Proof, X-rayed evidence of military service in the Alabama National Guard. This turned me, while mash-wrapping the fabulous red-lentil heap, to the Wonka candy I tangled with the night before, late Wednesday: Nerd Ropes. What story will dental records tell of this in 31 years? I ate two of them with a bottle of water--tacky cherry syrup ropes roll-coated in assorted Nerds. It was late; I needed a kick. If they'd had these at the Palatine Hill, what?

Took the yarn quiz via Quizilla via Culture Cat. Would've preferred Mohair, but as it turned out, the test told me

You are dishcloth cotton.
You are Dishcloth Cotton. You are a very hard worker, most at home when
you're at home. You are thrifty and seemingly
born to clean. You are considered to be a Plain
Jane, but you are too practical to notice.
What kind of yarn are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Cleaning? Yeah, I'll get on that right away.

Via Slashdot, I looked at this article about open source insecurity. So I'm wondering about trust in technology, about good faith in the machine, and about the transference of this way of thinking about open source as a "fertile ground for foul play" into non-software-writing sectors, such as education. Why should we prefer costly, closed-source course management systems to open source alternatives? Foul play? Well, maybe. Here is where I get by thinking while writing rather than planning all of this out ahead of time. It's just that closed-source systems seem much more likely to suffer harm-intended hacks.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Do Not Burn the Joes

Narrow window for a brief entry this evening, since sloppy joes are already started in the other room and, well, an unmonitored You see the dilemma. Plus, we've scored free tickets to tonight's KC Knights-Long Beach ABA game. It's a one-two matchup, but I admit to being basketballed out, and the kids have practice in the morning again. But Phillip's forever enthusiastic, so we'll wear smiles tonight and root for the home team. Of course, I was looking forward to seeing Rodman-in-full-madness play one last time, but my friend O. from Detroit (who went to high school with a player on the Long Beach team) told me today that the Worm didn't make the trip. Bummer!

Been thinking about two essay projects. Got an email about the upcoming publication for the Greater Kansas City Writing Project inquiring whether anyone on the listserv was currently publishing student writing on the Internet. I replied, saying, "Yes. We have a blog. It's rather like publishing on the Internet." Then came the invitation to write about it before next Wednesday. Should be no problem as long as we get walloped with snow on Sunday and Monday. I really like the carefree pace of snowbound days, and we don't get many around here. Usually grey skies and ice storms.

So that's one project: an essay explaining why weblogs in education. Not trying to reinvent the wheel here, but I want to articulate a model of use that dispels the free-for-all mythos of unmediated e-comm while acknowledging the great boon of audience engagement and frequent, visible writing. It's mainly for K-12 teachers who've not ventured far into the craggy terrain of weblogs in ed.

The other essay project (I will not burn the joes!) is for my students, mainly. I need to come up with a way of describing how we might read blogs rhetorically, how we might apply a close reading, seek answers to questions about how blogs connect with rhetorical terms of art. Right...the stove.