Wednesday, October 24, 2007

All Things Culinary (sort of)

Sorry it's been so long since we've spoken, some times I just need an extra 25th blog hour in the day. Not a whole heckofa lot to report here, just repeating the daily grind over and over. Do have some some cool foodie notes though - for one, I bought a few new knives for work. A Global Slicer and Global Bird's Beak, which are really nice and just glide through anything they touch. Although they look pretty cool, they aren't my favorite knives. Work great, very light, look funky... but don't fit my hand as nicely as the old Wusthof. On the other hand, I bought a Chroma Type 301 10" Chef's Knife and Chroma 301 Filet Knife... and let me tell you, I'm in heaven. Really... drooling, wetting myself, heaven. Ordinarily, I wouldn't blog about something as boring to the rest of you as my knife purchases, but let me just say - holy shit. I actually try to think up dishes that have more stuff to prep just so I can use them more often. A few days ago I brushed the tip of my filet knife against my finger by accident, and didn't even know that I did it until I saw the blood pooling up on my steel table... awesome.... I'm so in love I'd sleep with them if they weren't so damn pointy.
Plus, I finally got around to sending in my membership dues to Slow Food USA yesterday. I'm what you might call an 'afterthought' member. Love the idea of it, and I really do want to be involved, but I join and then get swallowed up by life, and things like Slow Food just sort of hang around the edges of me... I found a Slow Food book at the library book sale a week or so ago, and walked back into our house where we are in the middle of curing some green olives, have a fridge of homemade jams and sauces, drink espresso from beans I roast myself, etc, etc... and I thought, "oh yeah... membership dues..." Anyway, inspired by foodie type stuff in general, I made some grilled frog legs with a jalapeno peach sauce to put on the salad bar at work today... which were lovely, but I got some evil looks from a group of third graders and their vegetarian teacher after my offhand "if I can catch it, I'm gonna eat it" remark. Plus I threw together some little almond tuille napoleons with cardamom cream and raspberries to snack on (don't get too excited, all of the bits and pieces were left over from some catering stuff - I didn't spend my morning constructing dessert instead of actually working).
And to top off a kickass day, while we were finishing up dinner tonight Sara taught Sam the words to Bob Marley's 'Three Little Birds' as it blasted out of iTunes while Lily danced to it in the background... and I thought to myself - man, if I could just bottle them up right now, give up everything else in life to keep them right here, right now, I would do it without a moment of hesitation. As long as I could bring my knives, of course... that goes without saying...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Stanley Kowalski, the Hippo's Balls, and a Cobra Pancake

We have two dogs, for those of you who don't know - Satchmo, a Boston Terrier that we got as a puppy 13 years ago; and Stella, and Jack Russell/Pug mix that we got as a puppy about a year ago. Satchmo was always pretty mellow, and has chilled out even more in the past few years. These days his primary responsibility is table-scrap-clean-up, and farting on my pillow when the situation calls for it. Stella, on the other hand, has decided that in addition to her regular dog-related responsibilities she will attempt to eat everything on the first floor... actually that's not really fair, she doesn't seem to have any taste for things like the DVD player, or my espresso machines, but everything else is fair game. She seems to have a real penchant for small plastic animals (leopards, in particular... I tried one, and must admit they have a nice smoked duck finish) but has an adventurous palate, and her gastronomic adventures have included our phone antenna, the filling from a couch cushion, a red Sharpie, a 1 liter seltzer bottle, and a chunk of the yellow pages from 'Contractors-General' to 'Landscaping', and most recently, about half of the little white balls included in Sam's Hungry Hungry Hippo game. Most of these indiscretions end up being sort of funny - she'll just eat the head or feet of something, or make it difficult to find a contractor - but the balls from the hippo game kind of suck. It's really not all that challenging to race like mad to get the majority of the eleven remaining balls, and most of the time is spent with hippo necks flailing wildly trying for the last two that aimlessly roll around the center depression. It is sort of funny to see a mangled hippo ball randomly find its way out of Stella when I'm walking her, but in case you were wondering, I'm not ambitious enough to clean and put them back into play... now if there was some sort of Kopi Luwak effect, and the game was somehow better after passing through her digestive tract, that would be a whole different story... I was thinking of spreading some peanut butter on some of our credit card bills and whatnot though, instead of putting them through the shredder... seems like a very energy conscious sort of thing to do... Plus, if someone really wanted to steal my identity bad enough to somehow piece together my social security number after Stella has digested them, they probably deserve my money more than I do.
Oh yeah, one little last bit of ridiculousness... Usually, on weekend mornings we have an absurdly large IHOPish type breakfast, which serves a few purposes - If we have pancakes, fruit, bacon, sausage, eggs, hash browns, bagels, and yogurt, for example - the kids will sit down and eat a long leisurely breakfast with us (which we never do otherwise), we have plenty of breakfast scraps left over that I can pick on during the week, and I get to mill around in the kitchen drinking espresso all morning while I cook without anyone bothering me. Plus, a secret little hobby of mine is pancake art... It started out pretty simply - a snowman pancake, and the occasional happy face made out of three little pancakes - but over time has become an obsession of mine. I can make almost any simple shape, and gotten pretty good at hammers, butterflies, writing the kids names, and even the occasional Taj Mahal. After a good deal of caffeine, I can even make a pretty decent Golden Gate Bridge, complete with traffic, jumpers, and Alcatraz in the background.
When I work on Friday or Saturday nights, things usually run pretty late, and I have the occasional catering gig that keeps me out till three in the morning or so. Anyway, a few weeks ago I was out pretty late, and Sara was nice enough to do the whole breakfast routine and let me sleep in. Unfortunately, Sam and Lily are a bit spoiled by my Richard-Estes-like pancake creations, and Sara was prodded into whipping a few designs out. When I came downstairs, I was presented with her crowning achievement, the jewel in her pancake tiara if you will... the trickiest of all the pancake animals - the elusive king cobra... and now, for some odd reason, every time I eat pancakes I feel a little dirty inside.
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