No it’s NOT a cooking blog, #4

Somewhere around 2 years ago NewWifey(tm) made the wise decision to befriend a girl who’s family back in Spain owns a saffron farm. Within a week of befriendment, the girl gave us this:

saffron-2

I think I’ve posted that pic before, but who cares. Unless you own a saffron farm you’re probably never going to see 2 cups of saffron sitting on your kitchen counter, ever, ever. Ever. You’d be posting pics of it every chance you got too, if that ever happened.

Do you know how much saffron that is? It’s more saffron than I’ve ever used in my life, cumulative, by like a factor of HOLY FUCK. It’s so much saffron that I’ve even used it as garnish:

finished-saffron-chicken

Seriously, have YOU ever sprinkled a fistful of saffron over a platter of saffron braised chicken just for the visual effect? I hadn’t either, up until  little Miss Chiquita Bonita came into our lives. I’d have had to sell my car, my watch, and three nights with my wife to even afford it. ¡Viva España!

So it is with heavy heart that I announce that after two years I’ve finally reached the bottom of the saffron barrel. There was only maybe a quarter cup left (*gasp*) when I opened it yesterday morning to use some as cologne.

Oh well. All good stigma must come to an end, I guess. Rather than despair, I decided to blow it all out on one final extravagant dish.

I was first going to use it to make Camarones al Ajillo. But then I decided I didn’t want the garlic to overpower all that ridiculously expensive floral elixir, so….

I took all the remaining saffron, toasted it lightly, then steeped it all day yesterday in warm oil. Then today I slowly poached a pound of shrimp (which I brined first) in that oil, in a bain-marie, to really get the flavors infused. While that was going I used the shells to make a shrimp stock:

shrimp-cooking

The stock was then used to make a separate brown rice risotto, with shallots and baby spinach. I have a ton of thyme growing on my back porch, so I used that as the finishing accent. Then I just plated the two together, drizzling extra saffron oil around the perimeter:

saffron-shrimp-finished

WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!! IT WAS SOOOOO GOOOOOOOOOD!!!

One note for anyone considering chiming in here with, “My god, this guy is an idiot. Doesn’t he know shrimp shouldn’t cook for more than a minute or two? Those things probably had the texture, and taste, of a Shell No-Pest Strip after simmering that long!”

Well, ok, that first sentence is correct. But the rest?

HA! Fool! Remember your basic Phood Physics? Heat and temperature are not the same, and oil contains less heat than water of the same temperature.* You can poach things in oil for a lot longer than you can in water before they become over cooked, shrimp included. It’s like sous vide a bit, but without the annoying millennial cache.

*Try this: heat a pot of water to 130-degrees (f), and a pot of oil to the same temp. Dunk one hand in each. See which hand starts writhing in agony first. Or better yet: boil a pot of water. That’s 212-degrees (f) give or take, depending on altitude. Now heat your oven up to 212 degrees. Stick your hand in the boiling water. You lasted, what, a quarter second before needing the local Burn Unit? Now open the oven door and stick your hand in. You could practically binge watch every episode of  “Car 54, Where Are You?” (with Fred Gwynne AND Al Lewis!) on Netflix before feeling even slightly tanned. The temperatures are exactly the same, but the amount of heat contained in water is more than the amount contained in air. By a lot.

Of course, with NewWifey(tm) still away it was sadly up to me to make sure there were no leftovers. But sometimes I wish I could develop an app I’d call “Eat Me!“, which would pair hungry people with people who are looking to share their meal. Eating that entire platter, redolent of floral joy and goodness, was fantastic. But it would have been nice to brag about how I made it to someone sitting across from me. I mean, I’m in the media, so I’m an egomaniac.

On the other hand: MORE FOR ME! Woo hoo!

(Er…sorry I haven’t been having more actual adventures to regale you with. Between the excruciatingly slow elbow recovery that’s limiting what I can do, and NewWifey(tm) not being here to instigate things, pretty much all I have in my life at the moment is foodstuffs. And Homestuck. But you probably don’t want to hear about that.)

Later. Gotta go make dessert.

 

 

Plum Crazy

Back when I was in college I used to go to this place called the “Wallington Exchange”. It was, as the name suggests, in Wallington. Wallington New Jersey was/is populated almost exclusively by Polish immigrants. At the time they had the distinction of having the most bars per capita of any city or town in America.

That last, of course, was reason enough for any college kid to visit Wallington. But it’s not actually why I took the trip every couple of weeks. I went because I wanted to eat at the Wallington Exchange.

The Wallington Exchange was, ostensibly at least, a Slavic restaurant. You could order à la carte from their menu, but the only thing I ever ordered – or indeed ever saw ANYONE order – was the “Slavic Festival”. They had 3 chefs in the back; one Polish, one Russian, and one Czech. When you ordered the Festival you got a 9 course meal consisting of three dishes from each of the chefs, plus side dishes. There were some staples, but many dishes also rotated with the availability of seasonal ingredients.

The food was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

But as A-M-A-Z-I-N-G as the food was, that still wasn’t the reason I went. (Although if that’s all there was I still would have made the trip. It was that good.) The REAL reason I went was for the show you got with dinner. It was a show the likes of which I’d never seen before nor since.

See, the restaurant was really just a front for an organization that – for lack of a better word – “smuggled” artists out from behind the Iron Curtain. That’s why I used “ostensibly” back there. Anyway, these artists would perform at the restaurant as payment for their salvation. And what artists they were! There were quite a few singers, a few magic acts, some folk dancers, various musicians, and a surprising number of belly dancers.

One belly dancer in particular was quite memorable. She came out in typical belly dancer garb, but affixed to just about every joint on her body was a lit candle. So, one glued to the back of each hand, one on each elbow, shoulder, hip, and knee, plus one on each foot and finally one on top of her head. When they blacked out the lights and she started her gyrations all you saw were these disembodied flames dancing and bobbing around the stage in incredibly intricate patterns. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.

One other outstanding performer I’ll mention, to give you an idea of the caliber of talent they were bringing over, was the (former) first chair violinist for the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Oh. My. God. For a Classical nut like me, hearing someone of such stratospheric international talent ripping effortlessly through pieces by Saint-Saëns, Wieniawski, Paganini, and others, all while seated in a little metal folding chair not 10 feet away from me as I demolished plate after plate of exotic Slavic goodness, well, it was like Christmas, my birthday, and my wedding night all rolled into one.

I think each artist was only obliged to perform for a week, because I don’t recall ever seeing a repeat performance. Every show was different, and yeah, some were better than others. But the entertainment value was through the roof just on sheer novelty. I absolutely loved it each and every time I went.

One thing that didn’t vary from week to week though, was our after dinner drink. My college girlfriend at the time was Polish, which is how I was introduced to the place. It was also how I was introduced to “Slivovitz”, the wildly popular Slavic plum liquor. Wildly popular with the Slavs, anyway. I didn’t know anyone else at the time who’d ever even heard of the stuff, and I was working my way through school as a hoity-toity chef AND a sommelier. I thought it was just terrific, although my girlfriend always sniffed that her father’s homemade quaff was better. We always ordered a glass to go with the complimentary platter of Eastern European pastries that got plunked on each table after the show.

Sadly, since the fall of the Iron Curtain (curse you, Reagan!) there’s been no need to smuggle anyone out from behind it. So there’s no more real reason for the Wallington Exchange. It’s still there – they have a FB page, in fact – but the “Exchange” doesn’t mean what it used to. They’re pretty much a wedding and party venue now. No more sit down restaurant, and no more weekly stage shows featuring acts you never thought you’d live to see. I guess it’s for the greater good, but…

But one thing that didn’t fall by the wayside was my love for Slivovitz. I buy a bottle once in a while, and while it’s still good here and now all these years later, it’s not *quite* as magical without a floor show featuring flaming belly dancers for some reason.

So this year I decided to make my own. I’m gonna bring the magic back THAT way, baby!

As it turns out, this is a very good year for Italian plums. I know this because a friend of mine last week pointed me to a NY Times story about how their plum torte recipe from the 80’s was the most popular recipe they ever printed. I had no idea – and I have two of Craig Claiborne’s NY Times cookbooks. So a couple of days ago I grabbed a pint of Italian plums from a farmstand and made it. It was tremendous! Easy, fast, and pretty darn foolproof. I can see why everyone loves it. Give it a shot if you’re looking for a dessert that doesn’t start with “Take a tub of CoolWhip…”.

Best of all, pretty much every plum in the pile was sweet and perfectly ripe. One of the better years I can remember for Italian plums.

The plums were so good it immediately hit me that they’d make phenomenal Slivovitz. I already make my own limoncello, and I figured the process had to be similar. So I hit up a couple of Slavic websites, and found out it pretty much is. I’m in!

So today I picked up the ingredients on my way home: plums, Everclear (gotta use high proof, otherwise inevitable evaporation will drop the alcohol level down to nada by the time it’s done), sugar, and cinnamon. Oh, and a new glass jug to age the whole thing in.

It should be ready right around Christmas. If you’re in the area, stop by and try some. Bring pastries.

The pics: 1. The plum torte that started it all. I also frosted some plums and decorated the top with them, which wasn’t in the recipe, but delicious. 2. Mise en place for the Slivovitz. 3. And so the wait begins….

Na zdrowie!

plum-torte

 

slivowitz-ingredients

 

slivowitz-macerate

 

Our New National Pastime

death-and-emojis-how-grief-manifests-on-social-media-1459089549

Funny thing. Turns out my arm is less mobile now that I’m out of my cast. Without a steel exoskeleton holding me together I have to be muy careful until my atrophied muscles beef up again.

“DO NOT TYPE” was the last instruction given when I left the doctor’s office last week. Not because of the typing motion per se, but rather because the position one adopts while typing leaves elbows hanging unsupported, stressing them. Ignore that instruction and I might find myself typing with just a stump for the rest of my life rather than fingers.

So…no typing here, there, or anywhere else for a while, other than the odd note or brief e-mail. Forgive me if I don’t return comments, or if they seem a bit on the terse side. It’s not you. It’s me elbow.

But I’m going to throw caution to the winds today and risk a brief entry. Why? Because it’s 9/11. And as a good American, or at least one who used to work in the World Trade Center and watched the towers fall, I…oh heck, it’s just the obvious thing to write about, ok?

However just those brief few sentences above have already taken a toll. So 9/11 or no 9/11, I really do have to stop typing. Instead I’ll just cut-n-paste what I wrote last year about the day, as it still applies. If you read it over there, stop here. If not, just know that I’ve become more than a little tired of our nation’s seeming insatiable need to fetishize grief, with 9/11 as it’s apogee.

The self plagiarism begins…now:

Please don’t hate me.

I used to work in the World Trade Center. In fact, I worked there twice before I got into radio.

When the 9/11 attacks happened I was on the radio, just finishing up my on-air shift. The planes hit, the towers came down, and we watched it all from our studio windows on the other side of the Hudson River in New Jersey. I actually left work before the towers collapsed, but when I heard they did I raced back, got right back on the air, and stayed there for the next 3 days straight.

Every year since, whether as a news anchor, reporter, commentator, or just a traffic reporter, I’ve been obligated to cover the commemorations and memorials that take place around the country.

And frankly, I’m starting to despair.

I can’t help but feel that as a nation we’ve joined a cult of victimhood. As bad as the event was – and I’ll be the last to downplay any part of it after watching the whole thing happen and knowing that some of my former co-workers couldn’t have made it out – what we’ve made of it since is even worse.

We’re fetishizing grief. Every year the histrionics get more histrionic. The memorializing prose gets more purple, more overwrought. The media coverage gets more pornographic. Our new national pastime is wailing. And making sure everyone sees us wail. “Hit ‘Like’ if I was distraught enough! :)”

But, Good Soldier Švejk that I am, every 11 September I put my head down and my headphones on, and for 8 hours talk about the Horror Of It All, the grieving families, the hero first responders, the resilience of America.

Don’t get me wrong: it WAS horror. Abject, stunning, soul rending horror. And 9/11 families grieve with tears as hot as any family that deals with any unjust, almost incomprehensible, death in their midst.

And first responders? A young fireman in Brooklyn, Stephen Siller, had just come off his overnight shift when he heard over his scanner that the towers were hit. He knew he’d be needed, so he drove back to his station house, grabbed his equipment, and drove his truck to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. But all the river crossings were closed as an emergency measure. What did he do? He RAN THROUGH THE TUNNEL ON FOOT. Three miles. In filthy Brooklyn Battery Tunnel air, with a 60 pound pack on his back. After working all night. To save people.

On the Manhattan side he ran about another half mile through the soot and ash…and that was the last anyone saw of Stephen Siller. They hold a memorial run through the tunnel every year now in his honor.

Those first responders were not human. At least, not the same kind of human I am. They’re better.

Despite all that, despite the fact that the horror, the grief, the heroics, and the resiliency were all seen in the extreme that day and many days since…our way of commemorating it has become unseemly. It’s become entertainment, entertainment we feel is our due as an audience. Everything must be melodramatic, maudlin, and public. Anyone with the temerity to mark the day in quiet contemplation risks themselves being marked heretical.

Maybe I’m biased though. I mean, my job is to sit there and gorge on all the stories and sound bites and interviews that my reporters file, while keeping tabs on TV coverage and press releases and updates from agencies concerned. So I get it full in the face from every quarter for hours and hours on end, whereas others might…well, I don’t know. What DO others do? Is it common for non-media folk to digest this marathon of dolorous pomp of their own free will, getting some sort of cathartic thrill through their tears? Maybe not, but when I look at my wife’s Facebook feed it sure seems that way. It’s hard to find any cute cat or ugly grandchild pictures for all the 9/11 meme/porn they throw up. Which I practically do when I see them all.

Of course, from the time this feeling started in me – around the 10th anniversary, I guess – I’ve kept that opinion to myself. Saying “Uh, guys, your expressions of grief over 9/11 are out of proportion to the events of the day itself” is like saying “So I was fucking my mom last night, and….“. You’d get the same look of disgust, disbelief, and maybe even a fight. Certainly social opprobrium.

But…things might be changing. During my newscast(s) this morning, one of the stories I ran with was a wrap filed by our field reporter at Ground Zero. The hook of the story was that for the first time since 2001, construction in the area was not cancelled for the day. A construction worker being interviewed was asked whether he thought that was appropriate, and to my amazement he responded that he thought the parade of commemorations were getting out of hand, and people should start getting a stiff upper lip about it already and move on. Remember the tragedy, but stop opening the wound afresh every year.

Did you get that? A call for quiet dignity from a blue collar worker at the very site where the towers collapsed.

Then, on my way home from work today, I heard this on NPR (listen to the audio. It conveys more than the written copy.)

So maybe there is hope. Maybe decorum will prevail – eventually – and we can stop this ever escalating national orgy at the altar of Thanatos.

I know this is already overlong, overwrought, and generally overblown – and I get the irony, considering that’s what I was railing against. But I’m in the media. That’s what we do.

This is Dangerspouse signing off. Thanks for listening.

ps. Having said all that, the Budweiser commercial still makes me tear up.

.

.

.

Cooking For One

What’s a guy to do when he finds himself all alone on a holiday that celebrates women giving birth, and his local ChowMart puts pork products on sale, but only the Family Size packs?

Like you need to ask. I’m an American.

Behold! Brined pork chops with 3 different rubs, plus sausage. Someday I hope to have a real smoker, but in the meantime “SS Grilly McGrillFace” here did a fine job.

And, no. There were no leftovers.

Labor Day 2016 Pork 1

Labor Day 2016 Pork 2

(Yeah, ok, it’s not the most pristine looking prep I admit. I’m still doing most things one-handed, including cooking. I couldn’t score the fat line around the chops, a procedure which makes them lay flat. Oh well, they still tasted killer.)

BTW, when are they gonna institute a holiday that celebrates conception, huh? Seems pretty one sided the way things stand now.

 

The Real Man Blues

They removed the Robocop arm scaffolding yesterday. Yesssssss!

I’VE GOT GIRLY ARM!! NOOoooo!

It’s amazing what 6 weeks of enforced inertia did to my anatomy. There’s basically no change in the circumference of my arm from wrist to elbow now. And it smells. Woof, does it smell.

I’m also pretty sore, now that the supporting structure is gone. Even small wrist and elbow movements produce twinges, and I can’t lift anything heavier than my spirits. This was all to be expected after a full elbow reconstruction, but it does mean I still have to go easy on activities for a few more weeks. Especially: typing with my left hand. Dr. Butcher specifically warned against hammering away on a keyboard until my physical therapy is done. So this, like my past several entries, is being produced single handedly. Could you tell?

Considering how sore I am, and how slow 1-armed typing is, I’m gonna wrap this up here. Well, wrap up the fresh content, anyway. Below you will find an entry I wrote a few years ago on my other blog. I’m re-posting it here because it perfectly dovetails today’s “Daily Prompt: Melody” with my now one feminine arm.

I called it:

The Sensitive Male Blues

“Oh, oh, oh, go totally crazy-forget I’m a lady

Men’s shirts-short skirts

Oh, oh, oh, really go wild-yeah, doin’ it in style

Oh, oh, oh, get in the action-feel the attraction

Color my hair-do what I dare

Oh, oh, oh, I wanna be free-yeah, to feel the way I feel

Man! I feel like a woman!”

How The Advertising Exec Portrayed It:

Have you seen the commercial where the 5 ethnically mixed dudes are packed into that pickup truck, and the guy in the middle-back seat is all rockin’ out to Shania there? He’s singin’ and swayin’, with that goofy White Guy Overbite we all do in-between lyrics, unconcerned that he’s acting like a drag queen sans makeup. After all, he’s among friends. Male friends all have an unspoken buddy ethos of “Unconditional Acceptance of Behavior”.

The buddies, meanwhile, are growing visibly more uncomfortable, although they don’t say anything. The only real sign of overt disapproval is the two guys on either side of ShaniaMan, who squirm as far away as they can towards the door posts. The point of the commercial is that this particular pickup truck has an awful lot of interior space for just such an emergency.

How It Really Would Have Happened:

1. If the guys are college educated and/or over the age of 25.

An ethnically homogeneous group of 5 guys is driving along in a 2013 Toyota Camry when Shania starts her ode to eggs. Guy in the back starts singing along. Either the driver or the front seat passenger reaches over and changes the station before ChoirBoy can get out the third syllable. There is a tacit understanding among them that the incident will never be mentioned again, although the singer finds himself being invited to fewer and fewer outings from then on.

2. If the guys wear blue denim shirts with their names sewn on the breast pocket, or are under the age of 25.

An ethnically homogeneous group of 5 guys is crammed into a primer colored 2004 Ford F150 when the static on the Emerson stereo lifts long enough to make out Ms. Twain empowering herself. One of the guys in the back unconsciously starts to hum along.

The Ford bucks to a halt on the shoulder and the miscreant is forceably ejected, along with his fishing tackle. If there are empty beer bottles in the cab he is also sporting several new contusions and hematoma.

There are always empty beer  bottles in the cab.

Because the trip from Sandusky Ohio to the fishin’ hole in Manitoba is exactly halfway completed when this gentleman parts from his colleagues, his walk back takes up the entire rest of his vacation. A number of Ford F150’s pass him along the way, but none stop. They all recognize what those bruises mean.

How It Really DID Happen:

It’s Friday night. Dangerspouse and NewWifey(tm) are heading down Rt.80 in the Mighty WRX to a friend’s house for dinner. Friday night is the one night of the week that Dangerspouse can stay up past 6 p.m. so they usually try to cram all their social obligations into this one evening. Fortunately, thanks to Dangerspouse, they are pretty much social pariahs. One night a week is plenty.

Since they couldn’t agree on which CD to load up – Dangerspouse wanted “Sponge Bob’s Barnicle Singalong”; NewWifey(tm) lobbied hard for the Barenaked Ladies – they decided to just leave it up to the radio. Pleasant conversation ensued while a professionally programmed assortment of non-offensive songs droned in the background.

Twenty minutes into the trip there was a lull in the conversation. The strains of Shania, playing at that exact time, were pushed to the forefront. Dangerspouse, oblivious as always to repercussions, picked up the refrain:

“Oh, oh, oh, get in the action-feel the attraction

Color my hair-”

The radio shut down suddenly  with a ‘POP!’ as NewWifey(tm)’s fist hit it.

Pull over.”

“What?”

PULL OVER!

NewWifey(tm) had that pale and dampened look of one who’s dinner was about to exit through the same orifice it entered. Dangerspouse put the Subaru’s ABS to the test and they came to rest on the shoulder. He rushed around to open the passenger door so NewWifey(tm) could vomit on something other than his custom floor mats.

NewWifey(tm) did not have to vomit. She looked straight at Dangerspouse and said in a low, even voice “Let me see your penis.”

“…What?”

Let. Me. See. Your. PENIS.

“Honey -”

NOW!

Rt.80 was as busy as it ever gets, Friday night being prime time for residents to escape the New Jersey toxic waste pits for weekend cabins in the Poconos. Streetlamps every 10 yards lit the scene like a Shuttle launch.

Dangerspouse dropped trou.

NewWifey(tm) inspected the goods for a minute. “Well it ain’t much, but it’s still a penis. Get back in the car, we’re going to have a talk.”

Dangerspouse tucked Little Elvis away (and in his defense – it was 12 degrees below zero out that night) and got back behind the wheel. The “talk” started before the key was even turned.

“How the fuck do you know the words to that song?”

“Huh? What song?”

WHAT SONG?! That Shania Twain ‘I Feel Like a Girl’ song! You were singing it!

“It’s ‘I Feel Like a Woman’. And I was singing it, I dunno, ’cause it’s kinda pop-fun, and has a catchy hook. What’s wrong with that?”

What’s wrong with that? You’re my HUSBAND, not my wife. You’re not supposed to sing about how glorious it is to have a pussy. How do you think that makes me feel?

“C’mon, it’s just a song. You know I’m on a Soft Rock station every morning. This song is a big hit – they must play it 3 times an hour. It stuck in my head. Besides, you sing ‘guy perspective’ songs. I heard you belting out the Eagles’ ‘Takin It Easy’ just an hour ago. Does this ring a bell: …it’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.

“That’s different, I’m a chick. We’re allowed to.”

“But that’s a double standard!”

It is not. Chicks are allowed to because it feeds male lesbian fantasies. We’re encouraged to sing along with songs about desiring women because it enhances our femininity in the eyes of men. But when YOU sing songs about wearing short skirts and MAC foundation, it DIMINISHES your masculinity. Whatever masculinity you have left.”

At this point Dangerspouse shut up and spent the rest of the trip silently replaying all the humiliating episodes from his youth where he was admonished by family, teachers, and girlfriends to “get more in touch with his feminine side”. (Although it was usually phrased “stop being such a fucking pig of a man”. But the intent was the same.) Then he mused on how, just when he had mastered that unnatural skill, he married a woman from the Midwest. A woman who wanted a Man, dammit, not some pansy-ass flower child who sings about the joys of estrus.

He remembered how the next several years were spent re-learning how to belch in public, and scratch inappropriately at family functions. He mounted a gun rack on the 4×4 (even if they don’t own a gun. Or a 4×4.). She got him a subscription to Hustler. He drinks Bourbon now, neat. His collection of Hugh Grant movies have been erased and taped over with Victoria’s Secret specials and Lee Marvin war classics.

He realized that since getting married, he has been expected to change to suit the whims of his partner. He doesn’t have the same friends anymore, listen to the same music, or eat the same foods. He tailors his responses and decisions based on his spouse’s preferences. He has to have sex whenever it’s demanded.

Man. I feel like a woman.

 

PORN!

For my buddy PoundHeadHere. The rest of you should avert your gaze.

OK Poundy, get out your Hitachi Magic Wand and make sure it has fresh batteries.

My collection has grown a bit since that last shot:

Le Creuset 2016

Not all of them are Le Creuset (bonus points if you can identify the 4 that aren’t), but each of them that are, were given to me on a birthday. NewWifey(tm) began the tradition of giving me one piece a year when we first got together and I told her how much I wanted one. Now I’m swimming in them. I wish she’d stop already!

…not really.

Underneath that bottom row of pots are two shelves filled with cookbooks, including every issue of Cooks Illustrated, half in a bound set, an *almost* complete set of the 70’s classic “Time-Life” food and wine series, and 3 copies of “Joy of Cooking”: one mine, one my mom’s, one my grandmother’s – a 1946 edition that is the most, um, “educational” of the bunch to read*.

Cookbooks

There’s a matching unit on the other side of the room. Both were built by NewWifey(tm) out of solid oak. The other one holds various other playthings: Romertopf, ice cream maker, stovetop smoker, the microwave, and more cookbooks (I have around 400 in all).

Those two are up against the back wall of the kitchen, one on each side of a bay window, under which is our casual kitchen dining table. Face forward and you see where the magic actually happens:

kitchen 4

Interesting side note: NewWifey(tm) LOATHES this kitchen. It is one of the few ongoing points of contention in our entire marriage.

Why?

Those cabinets are sooooooooo 80’s!” She HATES them. Hates the almond color, the slotted handles instead of knobs, the light wood trim. She’s also irked that I keep so much gear on the counters (“Why the hell do you need BOTH stand mixers out?!“). She also hates the wonky electric stove, but there’s not much she can do about that, since no gas lines run through our little mountain community and she’s scared of propane. So it’s electric, or raw.

But she does like the overhead pot rack, probably because she built and installed it herself. Women!

BTW, much as you may covet my Le Creuset collection – and well you should – my real kitchen workhorses are hanging in that rack. Those pots and pans, many from my chef days, a few purchased since, see probably 75% of the action at meal times. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can’t make something phenomenal just because you don’t have enameled cast iron. I made my living pumping out gourmet fare for years, never once owning even a single piece. Don’t get me wrong, they are GREAT to cook with. But technique trumps everything. I know we’ve gone over this before, o’ Queen of Substitutions, but I just wanted to underscore it. Plus, I like hearing myself type🙂

Ooo, I wanna quick zoom in on a piece you probably can’t see in the full kitchen photo:

Garlic Vampire

I put a vampire fangs sticker on my garlic holder! God, I’m endlessly entertaining….

And this classy little number normally takes pride of place on the side buffet, but I’m forced to hide it when any of NewWifey(tm)’s friends drop by. They, it seems, have a different definition of “entertaining”. Bitches.

Fart Mug 2

I was gonna wrap it up here, but since I have the folder open…

You deserve Champagne and a slice of pear-and-almond-cream tart after an orgasm like that. So here ya go:

Pear Tart3

Now go wash that thing off and put it away before the kids show up.

Ciao!

.

*1946 Joy of Cooking

And that’s just one of many….