Sunday, September 26, 2021

'Cause That's The Secret to Getting it Right

Um... hell yes on this one!  A quick homemade shake and bake coating on the chicken and the vegetables elevated the chick peas and zucchini plus they soaked up the chicken fat rendered from baking and became the epitome of fond greatness with the crunch of those toasted panko crumbs.  The lemon cut through any richness and brightened all the flavors.  Extra points for another sheet pan dinner concept.  A spicy spinach would be good with this but with the zucchini and chick peas, it was a full meal in itself. 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

I Feel Good, In a Special Way

Breakfast Tostadas
When you have hot sauces and salsas left over, then the creation options open up quite a bit.  But breakfast tostadas can never be wrong.  The creamy scrambled eggs are perfect with the cool, crisp lettuce and tons of hot sauce and Cotija cheese. 
And these pan seared pork chops were treated to a very spicy rub, then cooled down with the sour cream ranch chile sauce.  

Speaking of being treated, have you sat and listened to Sam Harris lectures, the philosopher and neuroscientist?  It's a certain delicacy that's for sure.  There is too much muck being uttered all day lately but the people that are seeing bigger ideas are really on fire.  Or they've been out there all along but thanks to YouTube, have become ultra accessible to schmucks like me.  Harris says, spirituality begins with a reverence for the ordinary and that leads us to insights and experiences that are anything but ordinary.  I have noticed this to be true in obsessing with my little back of work ecosystem, that is the Erie Basin, in the last years. This year I found crabs.  Blue crabs!  Just living on the rocks and you would have thought I found diamonds, I was so excited.  Just like the joy of eating breakfast tostadas or these spice rubbed pork chops.  These impossibly simple acts or experiences have brought about the ability to recognize the most incredible depth and wonderment all around us, everywhere.  The more you do it, the more it opens up.

An atheist and conservative, yet somehow invigorating to consider his ideas, as a mind exercise and how to rationalize my differences or common ground.  i.e, free will, God, you know, all the small stuff.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

No Cover Charge, Come as You Are, I Love This Bar

Pico de Gallo, Green Chile Ranch, Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Chile Salsa

If you find yourself with sauces and salsas, then it's an obvious pathway to a Nacho Bar dinner.  And one way to find yourself with sauces is to make them all at once.  Its basically the same players with some variation, so roasting the ingredients at the same time, in different pans allows the process to go much quicker.  Chopping the fresh pico can happen whilst the others are roasting.  I took about a cup of the roasted tomatillos, jalapeno, onion, garlic and cilantro blend and mixed it with a couple of teaspoons of ranch and a huge dollop of sour cream, to get a tangy ass dip that could be used as a chicken marinade for sure.  

Cherry Tomatoes can be jam packed with flavor but are a bitch to chop, so this is a labor of love but this pico de gallo is definitely worth it because the vibrancy pops in your mouth.  

For the bar, I usually make two sheet pans of plain chips with cheddar cheese and fresh jalapenos only and then put out the various toppings so everyone can load their own.  
It's hard to invite too many vegetables to the party because not everyone gets along well with a cheesy chip. Ground beef or turkey, corn, lettuce or cabbage, refried beans, avocado, and green onions work very well. 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Life is Very Short, And There's No Time, For Fussing My Friend

Two new finds happened on this plate.  I've stuffed lots of chicken breasts but thought it might be cool to wrap them in bacon. had a great easy recipe but you don't need it, just add a little brown sugar to your regular crowd of seasonings.  But it did make the difference.  Not too much, just balance it with the salt to get more of a bbq potato chip flavor mix.  30 minutes on 350 and the breast is majorly juicy and a quick two minutes under the broiler will crisp up that bacon.  All good things.
For the barley risotto, I steeped the stems of mushrooms in chicken stock, garlic, onion and thyme.  Before adding the liquid, I slightly toasted the barley and mushrooms in a bit of oil, then brought it to a boil and cooked it like rice, covered for 45 minutes.  Afterwards I added a bit of almond milk along with a pat of butter, lots of fresh cracked pepper.  It did resemble a constantly stirred risotto. Or, you could follow this recipe from Taste of Home.  Barley is a whole grain and is still super cheap unlike Quinoa.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

I Don't Think Jesus Done it That Way

Crunchy Shrimp Tacos
Just when you think you know things, by chance you catch a late night video of two gals making tacos in a new way that changes everything.  America's Test Kitchen approaches cooking scientifically.  They try 500 ways before reaching the best baked potato recipe, for example.  Initially I sneered at their methods and ingredients.  They aren't approaching food with soul, I thought.  It Has to come from the gut.  Their ridiculous notion of baking tacos had me in a spin.   Which in hindsight is silly on my part because I have been baking tostadas now for some time. Um...a taco is just a folded tostada lady.  Don't bother me kid, I'm trying to defend some hard core Mexican traditions here. 
But in recent years I've learned, you don't have to do things as they were done in the past simply to keep the tradition alive if indeed a better, healthier way is discovered.  These folks are paid to waste food in order to trial and error every possible technique.  Home cooks could never do that, but we can benefit from their labors.  Baking tacos works, it totally works.  Might I add, a true bonus to be able to do a sheet pan full of tacos at once.   Less oil is used, it's definitely less messy and I love a crispy shell.  Brushing on the oil and baking at high heat, saves you calories and accomplishes the same, perhaps better, results.     
Sometimes we can get a thing all wrong.  Morgan Wallen, the country singer, is banned from attending the CMA awards this year, where ironically he's nominated for Album of the Year.  They refused to nominate him for an individual category, such as Entertainer of the Year based upon his social rating, which is fair if you look up the criteria for the award.  Banning him from attendance, is another thing entirely.  

Back in February, he came home stinking drunk with friends and some sick individual video taped his private farewells to friends and shared them with news stations and social media.  We don't know anything about that person.  That neighbor, who deliberately set out to ruin a life.  I'd like to take away that person's career and social standing but that's just me.  Because when you really consider this story, yes, people could be hurt hearing that word but remember, no one would have heard it, other than that white friend that he said it to in a non-derogatory way (which, for me, is key), from his own yard, if some prick opportunist wouldn't have taped it and shared it to the world=TMZ.  What's the more evil of those two acts?

What kind of world are we living in right now?  Shouldn't our first consideration be context?  And the second, to prove intent?  This guy is guilty alright but of what half of our youth is and that is assimilating the black culture by using the brotherly slur that dudes address each other by every day on the streets, in music, everywhere you go.  I hear that word said in non-derogatory slang allllll day long, at least here in Brooklyn.  He's wrong to use it, but it's certainly not cancel worthy and it sure the hell is not my definition of a racist.  Black men have learned to reverse the N word and use it for bonding, thus giving it power.  They did something unique and necessary for their own.  Somewhere in the story, it became part of our US culture.  You sell enough records using this word as a bro-descriptive, then fauxpaus are bound to be heard.    
I would never say it, but I grew up in another time when and where that word was said most definitely in a defamatory way.   And yes, I do get why it should be off limits. Words can matter but not sure I agree they always do or should.   Maybe Wallen needed to learn some history, why it's not okay for him to joke with his friends in private.  Or, or just maybe we need to understand that when a free individual is with family and friends, no matter what color they are, they should be free to say any of the words, right or wrong.   

What could have been a quick easy self correction has click baited itself into a shit storm.  How much did the media make off of that non-story?   Companies, in this case, the CMAs are cowering to the shut down crew, operating out of fear they'll be targeted or boycotted, financially hurt.   The social justice progressives gain more power, the media sees the high financial opportunity and we all know they have no scruples and then the coalitions and organizations stand to gain big financially as well.  It's become a true money making scheme machine.

Meanwhile, real people are hung out in the public square as if to demonstrate our own loss of freedoms.  It's a bully tactic, that I've become well aware of in my workplace.  The real story might just be this guy has a heavy drinking problem that went along with his new star rise. (as I sit thinking, God forbid, a camera followed me and my chosen words at 27)  To say he's an evil, white, country redneck racist is a sexier picture for sure.  

He's being used as an example that if you are going to be a successful anything in America going forward, you better bow down and stay between the approved ideology lines and never be caught, even in the wee hours of the night, of your own private life, committing an unapproved behavior.  You can lose everything, even if nothing is related in the least to your craft.   And by the way, these rules are not in effect for everyone and that is one of the more disgusting facts of this new game.  What is allowed is not controlled by common decency laws either, but by some unlimited cyber collective's ongoing, ever-changing whim.  You want to degrade the Catholic Church?  No problem!  You want to take away the rights of others?  If it serves the cause, absolutely.  Can you openly joke about those who believe in God?  Go right ahead friend.  Just be sure to look the other way when real atrocities are being committed by protected groups.

I don't know much about this Morgan kid, only that his fame rose very quickly and he has an interesting voice.  Based on that video, I think he's carrying the cross for true card carrying racists in his industry, which I don't doubt exist but don't see anything pointing to his guilt.  He's just a bit ignorant, like a LOT of people, including you and me.  But I do believe he was guilt tripped if not coerced into donating a shitload of money ($500,000) to Black organizations, probably by non-black progressives.  

Think about that, now not only can you be removed from all privileges of life and career but its commonplace to also have a social 'fine' to pay. This is getting very dark and not enough people are speaking out against these perverse practices.   I wouldn't be surprised if not one needy black person saw one dollar of that money.  Yep, a real lucrative shit storm. 
I abhor racists and hateful speech.  I love diversity, in fact I moved thousands of miles just to be around people of other ethnicities and am myself a person of color.   But, I also loathe hypocrisy and double standards and people that operate under false pretenses.  I realize I might be totally wrong about this guy but I do see and what is clear is there are a hell of a lot of people throwing stones right now.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Long As I Can Grow It, My Hair!

The Loco Moco Burger
Finding a new burger is like discovering an artist you've never heard of and instantly love.  This burger is a dream and when was the last time you got excited over something that didn't have cheese melted all over it?  Its slightly Salisbury steak-ish in flavors and using sweet onions with the mushrooms in that awesome beefy gravy with the creaminess of the egg over top is delightful!  They suggest to serve over white rice but instead I cut Polenta medallions and grilled them for a bun.  

I finally got my Rapunzel-looking ass down to get a hair cut and see my sweet stylist and her young son.  She is cutting at two venues.  This one I could walk to in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn and is in a cute tiny vintage shop.  She was so welcoming and chatty that I wondered why I wait so long to do this as it's such a cool experience.  I took pictures of ideas but when I got there she immediately seemed to know what was needed and went at my head like a concerned surgeon. Later she said she felt that my hair was screaming at her to cut it, which I found both funny and troubling.  It looked so good when she finished but by the time I got home, the high humidity did a Freddy Fender number on me.  

By the time I made it home, my hair looked frizzy, dry and flat - the exact opposite of how I left that shop but I still held the happiness of getting myself there, which for a recluse is an accomplishment in itself.  It was a loco moco haircut to go along with my loco moco burger. 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

My Freedom I Hold Dear

Corn Porn Salad
I love making salads from the last of the sweet summer corn.  Somehow it becomes more special when you know it's going away.  I made extra and took a bowl to work for lunch.   

You can't fully appreciate a fresh healthy salad without the juxtaposition of some Strawberry Cake with Whipped Cream, someone once said.   The corner market sells delicious cake and pie by the slice, which is perfect for those of us who like the one and done method.  I'm not comfortable with sweets lying around my home, taunting me.  This was so moist and soft.  I enjoyed it as a last indulgence before my mate returned home from his trip.
Both the largest cauliflower and celery bunches I have ever laid eyes on, were on display today.
Instead of a free-wheelin' time, P's adventure was fraught with turmoil.  It seems some gal T-Boned him in West Virginia and totaled his beloved car.  Then the rest of the time was spent figuring out insurance and how to get back.  A sad end to a cool free ride and way out of this city on weekend getaways.  But like many good things, this wagon came to an end.  RIP, the Paddy Wagon.  Thank God that's the only thing that died out there.
In anticipation of his return and to help ease some of the sorrow, I slow-roasted a pork shoulder with Nigella Lawson's aromatic spice mixture.  The smell would fill the house as I would not be in it when he came home.  I love it when he goes away but I love it more when he comes back.