Wolf, interrupted

I still have a job.

For now.

I think.

It’s rather surreal. Here it is Wednesday, and I still am not sure what the situation is. On Monday some announcers were let go, but not as many as I expected, and (critically for purposes of my continued existence) not me. Our entire sports department was jettisoned.

Some announcers jumped ship proactively after they saw the writing on the wall. A few even defected to the new company.

On the other hand, a number of announcers who found themselves with no radio stations left were kept on. What the company did was, they pulled a station or two off everyone else’s schedule and gave them to those guys in order to justify keeping them employed.

I have to say that was a very heartening move, although at the same time it makes for a rather bizarre situation overall. Many of us, myself included, now have insanely light schedules. In fact, they took so many stations from me that I have an entire hour in the middle of my shift where I have nothing to do. Nada. Zip. Ugatz.

Not doing anything is the most stressful thing I’ve ever been paid to do. Seriously, I know it’s what THEY TOLD ME TO DO, but I still have this nagging fear that “they’re gonna see me just sitting here not doing any work and my ass is gonna be gone!” So even though I’m doing what THEY TOLD ME TO DO, I still pretend to work during that hour just in case someone in authority pokes their heads in. I put on headphones and give fake newscasts that are broadcast nowhere. I write stories, edit sound, engage in banter with nonexistent co-hosts. It’s crazy.

But not when you’re panicking on the inside imagining that sooner or later they HAVE to wise up to the fact that they’re paying 3 people to do the job of one, and let’s see, who have we seen doing the least around here that we should let go….

No. Then it’s not crazy.

It’s psychosis.

To add to the maddening, ulcerating uncertainty: after Monday’s bloodletting and reshuffling we all thought it was done with. So on Tuesday those of us who were left started to breathe again. But then today two more announcers were shown the door. Two who thought they were safe.

So now none of us think we’re safe again. Was that the last firing? Or will the hammer fall again? A girl I know there told me she thinks that’s it, because the company has already budgeted for the number of announcers we have left, regardless how much work each one is assigned. But next year when they write the new budget, will they…?

Still, the wolf at the door has at least been pushed to the end of our driveway for the time being. He’s still slavering at the sight of me and NewWifey(tm), but he’s being held – however tenuously – at bay for the moment. I actually bought real groceries on the way home from work today – not the clearance stuff that normally would be turned down by even the poorer shelters around here.

Ok, that’s enough. I hate writing downer entries, and this is the third in a row. I didn’t even write TWO in a row when my mom died. And she was like a mother to me! (Even my dog’s death only warranted one dolorous entry. And I arguably loved him more than my mom.)

From now on, then, unless I get concrete news one way or the other, I’m jumping off this ship. I’m going back to food, sex, and ridiculous adventure stories. The kind I’ve championed since I began blogging in 1973 (according to Wikipedia).

To that end, then, I present you with tonight’s dinner:

Kakiage 1

KAKIAGE!

I intend this to be an instructive bit of food bragging, by the way.

It’s not so much that my technique was (as always) flawless, or this dish featured some genius twist which elevated it above its more plebeian cousins.

No. What I would love to impart to you is this (he said, filled (as always) with overweening hubris):Β  STOP BEING AN IDIOT WHEN YOU COOK!

Wait. That came out wrong.

Oh well. I stand by it.

No, seriously, here’s the thing. When I came home from work today all I saw in the fridge was a lone carrot, an onion, a couple of asparagus spears I’d forgotten about, a half a red bell pepper, and the last breast from a family pack I’d purchased on sale last Sunday. A lot of my friends, and I suspect a lot of you, would look at that mess and say, “Ok, I’ll saute the chicken breast and throw the veggies on…ah, fuck it. I’m calling for a pizza.”

DON’T DO THAT!

When you’re faced with a pile of seeming disparate ingredients, think outside the box. Use your imagination. Have fun! Or at the very least, don’t panic.

One good go-to to keep in your bag of culinary tricks is…dum dum dummm...battering! Almost anything can be dunked into batter and either deep or shallow fried to great effect. In fact, there’s a restaurant in Brooklyn that’s built its entire business around this very concept. I took NewWifey(tm) there for her birthday a couple of years ago because she’d developed a fixation on their deep fried mac ‘n cheese, and it was every bit as disgusting and wonderful and stupid and brilliant as you’d imagine. I had the deep fried pizza.

Sorry. Got off track there. The point is, learn to make a simple batter. I won’t give you a recipe – you gotta show SOME effort here. I mean, what am I, YouTube? – but trust me, you can do it. And once you learn that meager skill, you have a serious option for probably 90% the leftovers you’ll ever come across.

(AAAAAAAAAAAnnd shut up. It is NOT fattening. Not if you do it right. Make sure the oil is hot enough, and it will crust the outside without soaking in. Then dump the finished lump onto a rack or a wad of paper towels. That way most of the oil clinging to the outside will slough off also. Deep frying, done properly – AND THAT’S NOT IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU TO DO, YES EVEN YOU – puts remarkably little oil in your mouth. For godsake, don’t believe the Food Nazis!)

So that’s what I did here, although because I’m me I made it more special than you. I made the Japanese version of “dump stuff in a batter and fry it”, called “Kakiage”. It’s slivered veggies that you mix into tempura batter and shallow fry like patties. Sometimes shrimp or other seafood is added, but all I had was that chicken breast, so…chicken breast. Home cookin’, yo.

Now…and I’m gritting my teeth as I’m typing this…if any of you out there are of Japanese extract, you might be frowning at that picture and saying to the monitor, “Um, Danger, those kakiage look a little…flat.”

Shut up. I know.

Funny story.

Tempura batter, I don’t need to tell you (*cough*) really has only one cardinal rule: DON’T OVER MIX IT, JERK! When you pour the ice water into the flour, you basically just swirl it a few swirls with a chopstick and then stop. It should look like a lumpy mess. If you stir – or god forbid whisk – until the batter is smooth, you are guaranteed to come back as one of those beetles that lives on bat guano in your next life. And you’ll eat shitty tempura.

So I was careful to just give 2 or 3 swirls of the ol’ chopsticks after adding the ice water. I hate eating guano.

And as soon as I did my doorbell rang.

Stupidly, I answered the door.

It was Jehovah’s Witnesses. Again. Two very nice, very prim, young ladies with pamphlets and smiles. NewWifey(tm) was out for the afternoon, so I was left to dislodge them myself. Which I did, but it took a good 5 minutes. They’re like ticks.

But 5 minutes was 5 minutes too much. When I returned to the kitchen I saw my batter had turned to sludge. I had to add more water to loosen it, and that meant…stirring.

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!

Fucking cult zombie parasites! It’s bad enough they prey on the desperate and feeble minded, but do they have to destroy people’s batter with their lies too?

Shit.

So yes. The kakiage is flatter than it should be. Blame god.

Still, it tasted like heaven. When NewWifey(tm) got home a few minutes later, that’s where it took her, too.

And the dipping sauce was perfect, as was the sake. So there.

Ok, gotta go pack up the remains. I wonder what I can make with leftover kakiage? Hmmmm. I wonder what would happen if I made a batter…….

Ciao!

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52 thoughts on “Wolf, interrupted

  1. Good grief! I stay away for a few days and everything goes Postal! I am SO sorry for the stress, but so far so good and you are WRITING! That is GOOD. Could you do that ALL THE TIME and turn it into a good living? Bet you could. So keep on writing and looking busy and save every single word. You never know.

    As for the leftover Kakiage: take your own advice, Dangerdude. If you stopped at the store on the way home did you get rice and scallions? If so Cook some rice and while it is getting all yummy chop the scallions and the leftover kakiage into tiny bits. Then mix it all together and, with your impeccably clean hands, form balls about the size of a golf ball. Batter THOSE and then fry them. Serve with 1) your Asian sauce, pr 2) ketchup + Madras curry + ground fennel seeds (or fennel pollen, as surely you have some) and it becomes Indian Twice-Fried Kakiage Kurry! Why not?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t have any clue how your station works, how many markets you are in…I am a former newspaper person, so I evidently cannot talk in a job where people listen. However, I can teach, but who knows if they really listen? So what do I know? Looks like you have the situation under as much control as you are allowed. That sounds negative! On to the food. Hey! I don’t even know what Kakiage actually is. On the positive side…I do like Shrimp Tempura. Strange, I know. Perhaps because I first ordered it at Hilton Head Island. Most likely…I had no clue what I was doing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations on your reprieve. And polish up the resume for next budget meeting, because the radio biz as a whole is volatile as heck and your other option might be 1) small market radio of the worst ilk, or worse yet 2) voiceover work exclusively. So, you pay 3Β’ taxes per year on the 2Β’ you make in wages. If your colleagues jumped ship, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to do the same. Well, other than the fact that you’re clearly a psychopath who conducts on-air conversations with nonexistent co-hosts and, well, not on the air.

    Details, details. Ahem.

    I answered your meal plan on my own blog at http://poundheadhere.com/cheap-cheep-and-the-flying-dutchman/, for the record.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha. Yeah, getting the T&R together is definitely a priority. But two things: there are no more small market stations left around here – they’ve all been absorbed by the networks. And my buddies jumped ship because they were offered positions by the station group that left us. Since I wasn’t on any of their stations, I wasn’t on their list.

      Details, details. The devil’s in ’em.

      Ooo, gotta check your blog. Thanks!

      πŸ™‚

      Like

  3. The only thing I’ve ever fried has been crab cakes. The first time I did them, it worked out really well. The second time, they ended up falling apart and I ended up with crab cake sprinkles. I haven’t even ever fried bacon! Mostly because I have other people do it for me… But I would love to learn how to fry chicken. I make chicken almost in every meal. It would be nice to switch it up. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Crab cake sprinkles! Why didn’t I think of that?

      Lol. No shame in not being a fryer (or friar, for that matter). Still, if you are looking to “switch it up”, frying is a good weapon to have in your cooking arsenal. There are plenty of great cooking sites and vids out there that will guide you through the process, so you shouldn’t be wanting for instruction. But I’ll give you two tips that I think anyone making fried foods should keep in mind regardless of which recipe you try:

      1. Make sure the oil is the right temperature before you toss the food in. If it’s not hot enough the oil will soak into the food, rather than searing a crust on the outside (which could also cause the food to fall apart into, say, crab sprinkles). And if it’s TOO hot, you’ll cook the outer layers before the inner core even heats up. Try to aim for the sweet spot of 350 – 375 degree oil. Oh, and this: don’t over crowd the pot. If you add too much at once, it will drop the oil temp down so you get sprinkles and glop and sadness.

      2. It’s just as important that the temp of your food is correct when you pull it out of the oil. Get a decent instant read thermometer (I use the ThermoWorks “Lollipop”) and check before you take the food off the heat. Chicken white meat should read around 160 – 165, dark meat 170 – 175, TOPS. Over cooking the white meat particularly is the #1 reason cooks commit suicide. And they should. So yeah, temperature is the best measure of your success or failure as a kitchen god.

      Any other advice needed, I’m here for ya. Or just stop by if you’re in the area and you can get a live demo. Bring beer. And a corgi.

      πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. THANKS! I actually work for the health department and they just handed out ThermoWorks Lollipop thermometers for some sort of awareness day (which seems to be everyday around here {Happy National Public Health week btw!}), so I feel like I’m on the right path. πŸ™‚

        I’m not sure my proximity to you as I don’t know where you are, but beer would be a no brainer if such an happening were to occur. I don’t have access to a corgi (I did once upon a time) but I have an extremely fluffy bunny I could introduce you to. He snores and likes to steel dog kibble.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. A picture of a corgi will suffice. I’ll be too drunk to tell the diff, if you’re also bring beer. Win/win.

          And of course the rabbit is welcome. I’ll stock up on kibble. Maybe make a kibble salad.

          Wow, your overlords gave you that thermometer?? The most I ever got working in radio was a can of Spam Lite. And herpes. Damn, I should have taken the public service exam.

          I’m guess they’re making the usual Health Department push to raise awareness about the hazards of under-cooked meatstuffs. “Don’t eat pink burgers! Don’t eat pink pork! Don’t eat the singer Pink!” Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s fine if you have the tastebuds of a rhinoceros, but real gourmands would die. Take the ThermoPop, but don’t drink the KoolAid πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

              1. I mean… I just had a birthday where my Fella got me a Fitbit, so that helped me. I’ve been taking my 30 minute allowed walk break everyday since, but I can’t say the same for my coworkers. I have noticed some using the treadmill more frequently sans the pedometer, the water bottle, or the sunglasses. Maybe I should wear the sunglasses on the treadmill and start a trend…

                Liked by 1 person

              2. First of all, Happy Birthday! Many more! I’d make you a ham cake, but I understand you’re not a fan. Your loss, toots.

                Lol. Yeah, stylin’! Glasses on the treadmill, that would be awesome πŸ™‚

                Liked by 1 person

              3. Ahh, but you forget. Us redheads don’t need material aid to use against our adversaries. We simply use our eyes and stare straight into one’s sole and damn it for eternity.

                Liked by 1 person

              1. Speaking of, I actually have a coworker who has shamelessly ran bidding wars on her 16 baby piggies who will be heading to slaughter at the end of the summer. Can’t get much fresher!

                Liked by 2 people

  4. Do you remember Myramains from D-land? She is full-time, self-employed in voiceover work. Loves it and makes a good living. Just a thought. I see radio as a dying breed and respectfully suggest you re-train for an alternate moneymaker. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah, I remember Myramains. The name, anyway. Not sure I recall any of her posts. But she’s a VO artist? Cool!

      I know a lot of people share your opinion about the demise of radio. But I can tell you, it ain’t so. Witness one telling fact: prices for radio stations, when they go up for sale, continue to INCREASE. Very wealthy people/companies are buying them because they still generate incredible amounts of revenue. That, in and of itself, pretty much insures their viability. So I’m staying for as long as they’ll have me πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. Your post is relatable. πŸ˜€
    While I was an intern at an organization in Pakistan, my duty at one of the social events was to observe, take interviews, and…well, basically observe. I was supposed to compose an article about it later.
    The “observation” part was so stressful for me, I ended up attempting to look busy. I would scratch my head, squint my eyes, nod along the speaker, act like I was copying important points. It was more tedious than my actual job. πŸ˜€
    It is fortunate that my employers ended up liking my article. So all the diligent work did not go to vain. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! I’m glad someone else out there knows what I’m going through. I’m getting tired of explaining my plight to people, and being met with rolled eyes and “How can I get a job that pays you to sit like a blob of algae??”

      Sounds like you’ve got a fascinating life/career/backstory there. I gotta go check your blog. Thanks for the great note! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So far so safe! I try not to fry anything because I’m afraid I will 1.) start a fire, b.) spray oil all over the place and all over myseld and then platypus.) set myself on fire. It can happen.

    I was kicked out of scouts for setting a kitchen on fire. Granted that was when I was about 13 but still. I have a bad track record.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, kiddo. Much appreciated.

      Mini carrots, huh? Those are not actually baby carrots, but a specific breed of carrots that are lathed into that shape. Importantly for cooking purposes, they have a higher sugar content then their larger brethren. Take that into account if you use them for savory dishes.

      One thing I would do, seeing as that’s the case, is either pan or oven roast them until they caramelize. Then either eat them out of hand (maybe flavored with cumin or anise) or use that as the base for other things. Glazed, if you have good gelatinous stock is a wonderful way to go. But cooking them until soft, working them into a paste, and then…anything! is also good. Biscuits (add flour, baking soda, buttermilk – you might not even need butter, just use the carrot puree), maybe scones, SOUP!, or as a forcemeat for chicken breasts, or maybe better: a braised pork roll. The scallions can be added to any of them, either just chopped, or perhaps slivered and fried.

      Let your imagination go wild! Don’t think of them as carrots. Think, “I have an ingredient here that is somewhat sweet when raw, caramelizes well, can be made into a paste or minced into hard dice, etc. Hmmm. What could I pair that with?” It doesn’t have to be anything you traditionally pair with carrots once you start thinking that way. Concentrate on the qualities of the ingredient(s), not the stereotyped usages, and then you’ll really be thinking like a chef.

      You can do this! Report back what you decided on, young grasshopper πŸ™‚

      Like

      1. You need to cook dinner at my house. I’m down to a picky husband and even pickier son. 😦
        Baby carrots? Nope. These had no greens attached. I call them midget carrots, but that may not be PC in today’s non-PC society. I could call them “little carrots” (along the lines of “Little People”, which apparently is no longer PC either).
        How about I just call them bite-size? πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hater! HATER! How DARE you impugn them with the moniker “midget”!

          They’re “dwarf” carrots. Sheesh.

          Lol. Ok, so they’re not gonna be as sweet as the ones I was thinking of. No matter – if you use them to make a sweet concoction, just add some sweetener. Honey and maple syrup are excellent matches with carrots in almost all cases, but even white or brown sugars will do nicely. Carrots are pretty forgiving that way.

          INVITE ME OVER! I’m more than happy to spread joy – and pate – to the eager masses πŸ™‚

          Like

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