Thursday, November 27, 2003

Happy Thanksgiving!
Most of what I know about Thanksgiving I learned from a TV cartoon with a singing Pilgrim mouse.

Still, truth is sometimes even stranger than holiday programming on network TV.

The first contact between Pilgrims and Native Americans took place when a one Abnaki, visiting from southeast Maine, just walked up to the Pilgrims' settlement (while they were having a military meeting to discuss what to do about the Native Americans spotted around the vicinity, no less) and welcomed them - in English: "Welcome Englishmen. I am Samoset. Do you have any beer?"

The Pilgrims, after recovering from their shock, remembered their manners and replied, "No, our beer is gone... would you like some brandy?"

The Pilgrims had drank all of their beer on the ride over and landed when they did largely so that they could build a brewhouse. They brought Samoset some brandy, a biscuit with butter and cheese, some pudding and a piece of roast duck.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Happy Birthday Dad!

I'll be toasting to your good health with a rice cake, if I can find one!

Monday, November 24, 2003

Food books

This past weekend, I went to Chicago, I spoke for a little bit, and I nearly started hyperventilating in the book exhibits (So many books! So many anthropology books!! With a conference discount of 25% to 50%!!!).

I returned to Cleveland weighted down with lots of exciting reads, including ...

I can already tell you that Golden Arches East is a fascinating and fun book, and a worthy anthropological contribution (despite the fact that both the motives and the funding source were questioned when the contributors presented their findings at the 1994 AAA conference). Their argument? McDonald's, so often castigated as the quintessential global corporate behemoth stamping out local food variety and in general eliminating ethnocultural specificity, is in fact, taken up and transformed by both the East Asian consumers and the corporation into local institutions that reflect the unique socio-political context. In other words, going to Mickey D's in Ohio just ain't the same as going to Mai Dang Lao in Taipei.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Orange you enjoying all my soup adventures?

All my soups, thus far, have been orange and had the consistency of baby food. You tell me what that says about my state of mind.

This recipe was as easy as it gets. Still, there were problems. First of all, even after you add the coconut milk, it's really thick, so it doesn't so much boil or simmer as violently erupt. I turned my back for one minute and suddenly there were all these orange splotches on the ceiling, on the wall, everywhere. So I'd recomment: thinning it out with more broth, covering it, or stirring constantly. Secondly, I didn't have pepper flakes, so I carelessly used a liberal amount of cayenne pepper. Note to self: there are many peppers in this world, and none of them should be used lightly.

Pumpkin-Coconut Bisque
[from epicurious]

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic gloves, minced
~3 cups canned solid pack pumpkin (1 big can)
2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth (1 regular can)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

~1 1 /2 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
Ground nutmeg

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Add pumpkin, broth, sugar, allspice and crushed red pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer until flavors blend, about 30 minutes. Puree soup with coconut milk in blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Hang on Soupy! Soupy, hang on!

Last week, a miserable Foodgoat was knocked down and out by a vicious cold (he actually took a day off of work).

He needed: 1) lots of sleep (or at the very most, quality GameBoy time), 2) plenty of fluids (especially hot calamansi juice and 7-Up), and 3) a spicy, extra gingery soup full of antioxidants to clear the sinuses, boost the immune system, and warm the insides.

Gingered Carrot Soup
(modified from epicurious)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1/4 cup minced peeled fresh ginger
~5 cups chicken stock
~1.5 pounds sliced peeled carrots

splash of orange juice
~1/2 cup coconut milk
dash of ground cinnamon

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and ginger and sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add stock, carrots, and some salt. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender, about 30 minutes.

Puree mixture with orange juice, coconut milk, and cinnamon using a blender.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Souped up

Right now, I'm obsessed with soups. I'm also obsessed with A&E shows about serial killers and murders-for-hire. But indulging in soup doesn't make me start wondering if it really is just trash in all those plastic bags that the neighbors leave outside their door (My God, weren't there three roommates???).

With soups, measurements aren't so exact; more or less of one ingredient or another, or its absence altogether, can be accommodated. Timing is similarly forgiving: there's minimal possibility of burning or even overcooking. Soups use one pot and have few steps. They can be side dish or the main course. They make splendid leftovers and reheat like a dream. Soups use up vegetables that might otherwise grow wilted and sad in the refridgerator while the sour cream and bacon go marching by.

Cream of broccoli soup
From The Surreal Gourmet
~6-7 cups chicken stock
2 heads of broccoli
2 peeled carrots
4 stalks of celery
1 medium potato
4 tsp. dry oregano + 1 tsp dry thyme
~4 Tbsp butter (or olive oil)
1 cup of white wine
Salt & pepper

Chop up all the veggies into small pieces. In your biggest (and I hope it's big!) frying pan, melt the butter and saute the vegetables, herbs, and spices for about 15 minutes over medium high heat, adding more butter as needed.

Add wine, reduce to low, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Move them into a big pot, and add the stock. Cover, bring to a boil and let simmer for about 30 minutes.

Get out your handy and dandy immersion blender and puree to a thick, smooth consistency. If you use a regular blender, let it cool a bit first. Serve with a spoonful of heavy cream.

Monday, November 17, 2003

The Firmary Rocks!
On Saturday night (actually it was really early Sunday morning), the Firmary rocked the Phantasy Nite Club in its performance debut. They were the last to play, following some good bands and some bad bands, but they were great. Hard to believe they've only been practicing a month: they played like pros. With just a five-song set, they had something for everyone ... something for the ladies, something for the mid-tempo rock fans, something for the moisture farmers. The Firmary (especially the brooding bass player) can "take me away" anytime.

[click on the picture to see more photos!]
Fine words butter no parnsips

Parsnips make me think of withered old New England spinsters. I don't know why, since I've never had them. Maybe because they're the type of people who would use weird proverbs like that.

In medieval Europe, when sugar was rare, honey expensive, and the potato had not yet arrived, sweet, starchy parsnips were a staple. Parsnips were traditional during Lent, since the flavor and nourishment (they're healthier than potatoes) helped peasants make it through meatless fasting periods. Babies also sucked on parsnip roots as pacifiers.

So I got a pound of them (to eat, not to suck on). They look like giant white carrots.

I peeled and sliced them. They smelled like carrots.

I roasted them in a 425-degree oven with a little bit of brown sugar, butter, and olive oil for about half an hour. They tasted like carrots.

It's a good thing I like carrots.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Three days’ and nights’ pursuit, no food, no rest, and no sign of our curry but what bare rock can tell

We made chicken curry weeks ago, and fully intended to post it, pictures and everything, but well, the computer died and the post languished. But after much searching, and a FedEx delivery from Dell, we managed to find it again.

Thank goodness, because chicken curry is de-licious.

First, get the authentic recipe from Shyamasree. This recipe is the real deal.

Oh, and don't forget to thank her.

Thanks Shyamasree!!! :)
What you need:
Boneless, skinless chicken
1 big onion, chopped up
1 big diced tomato
1 diced bell pepper
Fat-free yogurt

You also need spices. Lots of spices.
Whole cumin (1 teaspoon), 2 bay leaves, whole green cardamon (4-6 pieces), a cinnamon stick, whole cloves (2-3 pieces), ginger root (peeled and mixed into a paste), salt, turmeric powder (1 teaspoon), whole green chilis (if you want it to be hot ... and who doesn't?)

Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a deep frying pan, and heat. Fry onion until golden brown on medium heat. In the meantime, add all the aforementioned spices.

(If the dish is dark brown here, taste it. If it tastes awful, it's burned and you need to chuck it and start over. Not that this has ever happened to us.)
When the onion is done, add the tomato and bell peppers. Mix thoroughly.
Add chicken pieces & mix. Cover, cook in high heat. Check it in 2-3 minutes and stir. Water will come out of the chicken pieces. In a bowl, mix 5-6 tablespoons of yogurt with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar and 1-2 tablespoons of water. Pour it onto the half-done chicken.
Depending on the concentraton of the curry, you can add some more water. Boil it until the chicken is tender, all the water has come out, and the curry is concentrated. You'll have to stir it occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Optional: add some butter during the last 2-3 minutes of boiling.

Enjoy your meal with rice or a tortilla (rice is better)!


Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Like, omiGoth!!!, or A Teenage Groupie Goes Goat-Hunting

Foodgoat, is, like, SOO talented! :) Not only can he cook :-9 , but didja know he plays the bass too? I'm so not kidding. Wanna see him make his stage debut? Come this Saturday night to hear The Firmary @ the Phantasy Nite Club ($7 for 21+, $10 for under 21). They go on stage around midnight, so don't be L8, cuz they're the best band EVER. They play trip hip hop (whatever that means!). The guy at guitar is none other than Bill, Foodgoat's BFF from elementary school! Awwww!

My mom'll say that's too late to be up, but whatever, I'm totally gonna sneak out, cuz they're seriously QT-pies ;-) , ya know! I *heart* the Firmary! It'll be so much fun! Maybe I'll get a rum and Coke (tee hee)! Oh, I know! Wouldn't it be cool if we, like, made Jell-O shots too before?!! And wouldn't it be awesome if I stopped using so many exclamation points!!! 'K, CU L8R!

Jell-O shots

2 cups Vodka
3 packages Jello with sugar
3 cups Water

Boil 3 cups of water then add jello. Mix jello and water until jello is completely disolved. Add the two cups of vodka and mix together. Pour mixture into Dixie cups and chill in a friend's dorm fridge until firm. Suck 'em down like candy and try to memorize all the information on your fake ID.

Rum and Coke

1 ounce Rum
5 ounces Coke

Mix ingredients in a highball glass two-thirds full of ice. Stir briskly and serve. Giggle profusely. Follow with a couple of juice-heavy drinks named for various forms of sexual activity. End either by throwing up in the venue bathroom with a girl you don't know holding back your hair, or by being downloaded on Kazaa, Paris Hilton-style.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Happy Birthday Jack!

What says "1 year old" better than your very own cupcake?
It says it so well, in fact, that Sean gets one too, since he's got this 1 year-old gig down pat: his birthday was way back in August.
Although, come to think of it, cupcakes say "3 years, 1 month, and 16 days" pretty well too.
Aren't they sweet? Couldn't you just eat them up?

Oh yeah, and the kids are pretty cute too.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Blue plate special
Do not adjust your set! There is nothing wrong with your monitor.
It's just that sometimes I like to have pancakes for dinner. If it's good in the morning, it's good at night, I say. But to make buttermilk pancakes seem more dinner-ly, Foodgoat adds an "extra something": in this case, a shot of Blue Curacao.

Once you go blue, you might as well go really blue, so we also added blue food coloring too.

Unfortunately, it cooked up a little green. And since we are not five-year-olds, artificially-colored foods suppress, rather than encourage, the appetite. They tasted good, they just didn't look good. Next time the pancakes needs a "extra something" we'll stick to the liquor and leave out the color.

Buttermilk pancakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons melted butter

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter. Add an extra something of your choice, if you prefer.

Mix wet into dry ingredients. Spoon batter onto a preheated, lightly greased heavy skillet. When many bubbles form on the top of the pancake, flip and cook 1-2 minutes longer.

Thursday, November 6, 2003

Know when to hold em', know when to fold 'em, know when to add the corn
(featuring all his greatest hits!)

Kenny Rogers, country crooner who's decorated many a life, and one of the original developers of KFC, started a chain in 1991, featuring wood-fired rotisserie chicken, called Kenny Rogers Roasters. But you know what happens when you fall in love with a dreamer: despite being featured in an episode of Seinfeld, the chain went bankrupt. Apparently there were not enough jilted men with four hungry children and a crop in the field eating chicken (too bad there aren't four hundred children, which would logically make it an orphanage, right?). You can't outrun the long arm of the law, so in 1999 it was sold to Nathan's, the hot dog people. They kept the name, even though Kenny Rogers reportedly wanted to drop all association with the restaurants. Just let it go, Kenny: it won’t mean you’re weak if you turn the other cheek (I hope you’re old enough to understand).

While I have yet to see Kenny Roasters anywhere in the States, it is well-established in Asia. Through the years, it's never let them down (it's turned their lives around!). So when my dad, my brother, and I went to the Philippines last December, guess what my uncle Arthur and cousin Armi treated us to? Some darn good chicken. Really! It's very tasty. Maybe even better than KFC. I remember it so well sometimes it still walks over fields of my mind (I loved it then and I love it now).

We can't reproduce the chicken here, but who knows maybe on some special night, if my recipe's right, I will find a way, find a way... to make the same corn muffins.

Kenny Rogers Roasters Corn Muffins
(from Top Secret Recipes)

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup frozen yellow corn

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cream together butter, sugar, honey, eggs and salt in a large bowl.
3. Add flour, cornmeal and baking powder and blend thoroughly. Add milk while mixing.
4. Add corn to mixture and combine until corn is worked in.
5. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan and fill each cup with batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until muffins begin to turn brown on top.

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

De-Liver us from evil

Picture it: Cleveland, Ohio, 1983. A little boy is 9 years old. His life is good and he is happy: he has an Atari 2600, Return of the Jedi had just opened, and Robotech is about to forever alter his life. And while he watches the A-Team on TV, he eats his favorite thing: gooseliver sandwiches. Sometimes he wonders why they are called that, but his mother, whom he trusts and knows would never lie to him, assures him that "They just call it that ... like hot dogs."

But one day he accompanies her to the West Side Market. In the midst of sides of pork, piles of beef organs, and goat heads, the awful truth suddenly dawns on him: gooseliver is actually the liver of a goose. The horror! The horror!

He never eats gooseliver again. And it's a pretty long time before he has a hot dog again, either.

Until this summer. That little boy, my friends, was Foodgoat. Foodgoat insisted he was over his organ-phobia. So we bought half a pound of gooseliver at what may be the exact same stand that where part of Foodgoat's innocence was so devestatingly lost.

I spread the ground up gooseliver (also known, I think, as a pate or liver paste) on bread and a sandwich. No wonder it was Foodgoat's favorite! It's delicious! In the French version, pate de foie gras, the even more buttery ground up liver comes from a maltreated, force-fed goose (and rings up at $63 for 1.5 lbs at Galucci's).

And Foodgoat? He did eat it. But it turns out he's not quite as over his childhood trauma as he thought.

Monday, November 3, 2003

Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea
(quote by Pythagoras, a Hawaiian-in-spirit who probably would have gotten a lot less done if he could have gone surfing all the time, and wouldn't have been taken seriously anyway wearing a hula skirt like that)

Isn't it great when sacred ritual substances go on clearance at Target?

Otherwise, I might never have gotten myself a jar of alaea salt.

Also known as Hawaiian sea salt to us mainlanders, it is salt rich in oceanic minerals that is harvested from the tidal pools of the island of Kauai. It is then mixed with volcanic red clay (which is high in iron oxide), resulting in a distinctive pink color.

Considered to be a sacred item because it originates from both the sea and earth, alaea salt was originally used only in rituals, such as traditional ceremonies to heal, or cleanse and bless homes and belongings.

Now, however, it is used in Hawaii as table salt, while far from the islands, professional chefs, gourmet-types, beauty spa clients, and other snobby people will pay incredibly inflated prices for what is still essentially NaCl (whereas I paid $2.50 for 4 ounces). It's supposed to have a more mellow flavor than other types of salt, but it's quite subtle and not something I noticed particularly.

So what does one do with salt that looks like Bac'n Bits? We haven't figured it out yet. I guess it will just sit there until an appropriate dish comes along or something needs to be ritually cleansed.

Sunday, November 2, 2003

Liver Lover

When Foodgoat goes out of town, Ladygoat goes to town with organ meats!

A lack of squeamishness regarding animal innards happily frees her to enjoy tasty dishes that Foodgoat .... can't quite enjoy to the same extent.

Liver and Onions
(modified from

Serves 2 (or 1, with leftovers)

~3 tablespoons olive oil
~1 tablespoon butter
2 onions, sliced thin
3/4 to 1 pound calf's liver, cut into thin strips (it's easiest to slice if the liver is frozen)

In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 1/2 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and a bit of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are well browned, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. Take them out of the pan.

Sprinkle the liver with salt and pepper. In the same pan, heat the remaining tablespoon oil and 1/2 tablespoon butter over high heat. When the pan is very hot, throw in the liver and stir.

The happy liver place is somewhere between Rosemary's Baby and fried-to-a-crisp, so cook only until just cooked through, which is only about 1 or 2 minutes. Resist overcooking! Because otherwise it will be chewy, grainy, and maybe bitter, and then you might start thinking of it as a cow's poison filter, and then you might not want to eat it anymore.

Remove the liver from the heat, return the onions to the pan, and toss. Serve with rice.