Even though last night we made homemade pasta with roasted tomato sauce, I think it is more important to continue the food politics theme. Recipes must wait for perfection.
So, I point you in the direction of the always excellent The Atlantic and their short piece on biofuel, "The Great Disruption."
Just because we are on summer break doesn't mean that we don't still care.
We promise to return Labor Day weekend with lovely footage from The Bourbon Tasting.
We skipped June because life got in the way, and are doing July a whole lot earlier. So, let's just call this the Scariest Recipe of the past two months.
We don't like to rag on one source for the scariest recipes. We go everywhere for them, we scour the food world for them, and even dream about them in our sleep. But never, and I mean never, have we actually gone ahead and MADE one.
Inadvertently, but still, made one.
Since we still don't have the gas to cook on our stove (a fact that constantly irks our landlord, and is about to irk our plumber when I don't stop calling him for the next nine-hundred days in a row until he LABELS THE GAS LINE SO THE GAS COMPANY CAN TURN IT ON!), we have been reduced to what I like to call the dregs of the foodie world:
We bought a hot-pot so we could have coffee in the mornings and have used it hence to melt butter and to make simple syrup. We also have a waffle iron and a rotisserie that my mom bought me for Christmas this past year. We have a lot of waffles.
No chicken yet.
But I digress.
Today, we wandered the city, just to do it. The Green Market in Union Square was unencumbered by the masses. We got a record player and a couple of new LPs. We got lunch at Wogies (a misanthropic tale that is bookended by sadness) and came home.
Hannah was hungry and we thought to ourselves...We will make our famous chili tacos, but with black beans and we will cook them in...
THE CROCK POT.
They were inedible.
Crock Pot Tacos
Recipe courtesy Matthias and Hannah's Dumb Asses
2 Cans Organic Black Beans
1 Cup Tequila
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Cayenne Powder
1 Onion, julianned
4 cloves Garlic, peeled
1 tsp whole cumin
1 Tbsp brown sugar. Yeah, that's right. Brown sugar.
Roast the onion, garlic and cumin in your rotisserie oven. Doesn't matter what temperature; this is going to suck anyway.
Throw both cans of beans into the crock pot. Add the tequila/spice mixture and stir. Add onions and garlic and crank that baby. Wait two hours, knowing that the only thing you've eaten today is a bowl of strawberries and two waffles and some gorgonzola that you're allergic to. Have some chips and salsa while you wait. It's better this way.
When the flavor isn't quite what you wanted, add the brown sugar. It will make it worse. Cringe in horror and do your best to fix it with half a lime. This only will result in the realization that there is no God, because if there was, He/She/It would NEVER allow such an evil concoction to manifest itself.
Abandon and eat leftovers.
writing by matthias, comic by hannah
Well, we've moved to Brooklyn. Bushwick to be precise. Downside?
We don't have a stove.
Let me elaborate: We have a stove, we have a brand spankin' new kitchen. We just don't have gas for the stove. This means that we've been eating pizza and salads for about two weeks now.
It's killing us.
So soon, we should have our gas turned on, and will be cooking up a storm and we'll show you our new kitchen and hopefully the pictures will be AWESOME now.
Sorry for the lack of posts.
From May 29th, 2008:
The sun is shining today, the world is new. It's springtime in New York.
I believed for the longest time that this was the greatest city in the world. I still do, to some extent. My friends are here. My bars. My food places. Ziggiz, on Twenty-Fifth and Third. Bread Tribeca on Church. Paquitos in the Kip's Bay. The Beer Garden down the street from my apartment. Carmine's Pizzeria on Graham Ave. in Brooklyn. Ditmars Gyro Place, the Neptune Diner, Sparrow. All places that have colored my culinary world.
These are a few of the stories of my eatings and drinkings.
I took Hannah to Bread Tribeca last year for her birthday. It was a nice day, all day. By the time we'd dressed and gotten from Astoria, Queens all the way to Tribeca in Manhattan, it had gotten a little gray. Once there, we sat outside, because it was just warm enough to eat outside and wasn't too humid or too cool. It was just right. I told her not to worry about cost, because this was her birthday and it was my treat.
Oh, and she had to pick the wine, because I don't know shit about wine. I still don't.
Those were the only caveats. The caveats of freedom.
She ordered a pear salad, a pasta with spicy tomato sauce. I had an onion, cucumber, tomato and toast salad with a vinaigrette and for dinner, I had pappardelle bolognese. The wine? I couldn't tell you, but I'll be damned if it wasn't fabulous and totally worth the $30 we paid for it (we usually spend at most, $10 on wine. I splurged one day and got "Frontier Red" by Fess Parker of DAvy Crockett fame. It wasn't very good and I was out $14.07. At 15% alcohol, it got me good and snookered. Put a crimp in attempt #2 to read Paradise Lost, though.)
After our dinner, we sat and talked and did out best to finish the bottle of wine that we had bought and thought, "Why not have dessert?"
She had a gelato with flaming strawberries and I had tiramisu (I'm a tiramisu fiend and will take it any way I can get it.). After we ordered out sweets, it began to sprinkle. A bit of rain here and there. Being a bit concerned for our safety and for the safety of our bottle of wine, we requested to be put inside. Our waitress, a delightfully foreign girl from where she originated, what her accent sounded like or what her name was, only that she was delightful and possibly the best waitress that we've had in the city, told us not to worry at all, that she would bring our desserts to us and that we ought to get inside immediately!
Not five minutes later, the skies opened up and dropped piles of water all over Manhattan. Lightning flashed, thunder boomed, cutting through the sound of traffic. There we were, slightly fuzzy, warm, dry and filled with the best food either of us has ever had. The desserts came and we ate them happily and with much pleasure.
Every Sunday, I would don my green army-style jacket, grab a comic book (for the longest while, it was the Sin City series that I was re-reading) and walk down to the Neptune, six blocks away. Being on my own, the hosts knew me, not my name, but by look and pointed me in the direction of the counter, in spite of arriving after a pile of church-going Greeks. I would sit down, begin to read my comic book and wait for my waiter. I didn't need to look at the menu. I knew exactly what I wanted: Waffles with a side of Sausage and a cup of Diner Coffee.
I would get through most of an episode in the comic book before my waffle would come. At its worst, it was a rock hard, overdone pastry, pocked with craters. At its best, it is bready, soft, sweet, with a hint of vanilla. Either way, it was the romance of a young man alone in the world. Those Hemingway moments that every young man has when he walks into a bar, or a restaurant, or a greasy spoon and knows that everything is going to be alright. This is the start of an adventure.
I would read and eat, my waffle swimming in too much butter and high fructose corn syrup, the heroes swimming through a hail of gunfire and dames, receiving far more punishment than any human being could or should. Beside me, I'd see old men, alone, eating their omelettes, silently conversing with their dead wives and regretting not having the courage to die when their mates did. I would see Long Island men filling their t-shirts with an equal portion of fat and muscle; the image of what a man is, and possibly ought to be. They smell vaguely of cigarettes and vanished dreams but laugh because, if nothing else, life is good. Behind me a slightly overweight girl ordered a shortstack of pancakes to go. My waiter asked her if she wanted bacon and inevitably the answer was yes.
They were good Sundays; mingling with the people and the city in which I live.
Today Sundays are better.
The first year I lived in Astoria, the first month in fact, I was one of many victims of The Great Queens Blackout of 2006. Today, it's mostly forgotten and the residents of Astoria barely mention it, but for a whole week, the residents of Astoria were without power. Not even the stove would light.
It had been so hot at Laguardia that the copper under the streets through which, flowed the life-giving power of the Borough melted, cutting off power to Astoria and Sunnyside. Knowing that it was that hot, you should understand what I was going through. Hot. Humid. Sticky and dark. I had no food that could be cooked. I could not get a shower. I could not do anything past 8pm.
For. A. Week.
Our 24-hour grocery store provided me with little reprieve. I would go just to experience the air conditioning and to get candles (because I was late to the store, I didn't get any plain candles and to this day, we have a St. Michael The Archangel candle in our collection. I also have 8 white candles that will serve in a pinch.). One night, I tried to write in the dark and drink Guiness Extra Stout.
The beer was as dark as the night, which ceased both writing and drinking.
I was working for a company called IAG Research, a company that studies product placement in television, which meant that I worked from 5:30pm to question mark. This meant I spent all day sweltering and sweating in my apartment (thankfully I lived in the basement, which made it cooler, but not by much) and then at night, went to work, unable to take a decent shower. the wednesday of the blackout, I decided that if I got out of work early enough, I wouldn't go home. I would go to a bar, somewhere far away and drink all night.
After my last show, I traveled south, to a place called Antarctica. It was appropriate. I was in the midst of a heat wave/blackout. A place called Antarctica would be the best place for a fella like me to cool off. And besides, I'd been there a week or two before and the bartender was an Aussie with tight clothes, blue eyes and dark hair. Being single and having all the hubris that this entails, I went back to drink, write a little and look at a pretty bartender.
The bartender I remembered wasn't there but another one was. I bellied on up and ordered a Guiness, sat and drank and wrote an adventure story for another girl whom I have never met. The ceiling was pressed tin and the mirror older than my father. Classic jukebox music played and the faux-pauvre played pool to AC/DC.
The bartender asked me where I was from and I told her Astoria and that I didn't want to go home. "See, I haven't had power in four days and I really don't want to go home," I said. She said she had heard about it and, out of pity, my fourth beer was on her (generous, yes. She let me pay for all my sorry drowning beers. she just fitted them with concrete boots).
I rebuffed an invitation to join five other people at the end of the bar, potential friends and I regret that I didn't hang out. I should have; it would be nice to have bar friends. Afterwards, I left the bar, a nice buzz going and completely forgetting that I had not left a tip for my last beer.
I remembered the next morning. To say that I remembered is a little misleading. I bolted up in bed with a generous headache, the vaguest sense that I had been poisoned and screamed, "I didn't tip the bartender!"
That afternoon, before I went to work, I went back to the bar, all the way down on the Spring Street stop of the C train, in the pouring rain, to take a tip that I owed her. When I got there, it was jumping with the Thirsty Thursday crowd. The man behind the bar looked at me and said, with a British accent, "What'll you have, mate?"
"The bartender that was here last night? Is she here?"
"Nah. She's off. What can I gitcha?"
"Nothing. I have to go to work," I said sopping and dripping on the floor. "I forgot to tip her so I wanted to bring it to her today." I put six dollars on the bar, my wet fingers staining the money. HE looked at it, then me, in disbelief. I turned and walked out the door. Whatever he said to me was lost beneath the din of commercial hip-hop.
I don't remember her name or even what she looked like, but I hope she got my six dollars.
There are food stories everywhere. These are only a few of mine. There are no pictures to post, but I assure you, they are more vivid in my mind than any camera could capture.
Lest you should begin to think the Food Network and the internet are the only places to unearth horrifying recipes, I bring you a creation of my own imagining. Last night I had a dream that I was the challenger contestant on a new show called Iron Chef Amateur. As my opponent, I chose a large, boisterous, carnivorous fictional blogger (think Mario Batali with a Macbook, except mean and more pompous).
Just like the actual Iron Chef shows, we were given access to every ingredient, gadget, and method imaginable. But, because this was the amateur version, there was no secret ingredient, the show was thirty minutes long, and you needed only to complete one dish.
On the other side of Kitchen Stadium, there stood a rotund and bombastic man, armed with a meat mallet, three pounds of veal, and a vat of oil. I cowered in my corner, tempted by some wild asparagus, beautiful morels, a huge basket of lemons, and among a plethora of other options, a veritable garden of herbs.
Soon I heard the slamming of the baby cow flesh on the butcher block, I smelled the oil starting to cook, I heard Alton Brown’s voice out of my left ear, and Kevin Brauch came over to bother me. I was paralyzed with fear. I could feel my confidence shrinking with each crash of the mallet and each glimpse of the dredged meat. And the next thing I knew, ten minutes had elapsed and I hadn’t even so much as lifted my knife.
Somehow I pulled myself together, and pulled out what seemed at the time, to be a simple and fresh answer to Big-Bad-Blogger’s Weiner Schnitzel. I put on a pot of water, chopped up a handful of parsley, threw in a handful of salt and boiled the hell out of it for ten minutes. Then I came to my senses, and realized this was going to be the foulest thing to have ever graced the lips of any of the esteemed judges, so I threw in a minced carrot. I don’t even remember if I washed it. But wait! I should also add that I also toasted some sliced bread in another salvage attempt; at this point, it is pretty clear that I was unredeemable.
Now it was time for judgment. The arbiters were a Ted Allen impressionist, the actual Jeffrey Steingarten, and some other forgettable airhead. After attempting to sample the platter of schnitzel laid before them, Steingarten overturned the judge’s table, sending schnitzel pucks and wine goblets all about, stood up and bellowed, ‘This is not cuisine, this is a breaded hockey puck! Never before have I been so disgusted by the maltreatment of an animal!’ This outburst ate up a good portion of time, so I was miraculously saved from public ridicule, and the outcome of the battle was ruled a first in Iron Chef history: a draw by inedibility.
Salted Parsley and Boiled Carrot Soup
Recipe courtesy of my imagination, insecurities, and some unconscious trauma
6 cups water
1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 generous handful sea salt (approximately .5 cups)
1 carrot, possibly unwashed, minced
Boil water, parsley, and salt for 10-15 minutes.
For the last 5 minutes, add the carrot.
Serve with sliced bread toast.
Recoil with embarrassment.
comic by hannah
For the past 134 years, The Kentucky Derby has been an American Institution. The pomp and circumstance. The Hats. The glamor and high-handedness of a Southern Tradition. It was founded by Col. Meriweather Lewis Clark, Jr., the grandson of William Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame. He traipsed about the world and when he returned to his home nation, he decided to start a Derby, further classing up the Southern United States.
I mention this only because a culinary delight that is distinctly American is tied to this tradition. It is nearly as old as the horse race and has it's origins in medicine. And certainly, it will cure all that ails you.
It was the kind of a day that resulted in us not knowing what to do and Hannah exclaimed: "What time is the Derby today?" When I say "today," I mean May 3rd. Weeks ago. I've been meaning to blog this for some time now and I really have gotten behind on my blogs.
We decided that it was time that we did something classy, as classy as the pageantry of the Kentucky Derby. The Silks. The Beautiful Stallions and Fillies. The Hats.
The Mint Juleps.
We've seen some differing methods of how to make them. One says to muddle the mint in the glass with sugar and soda water. The method we used? Well, it's pretty much straight up liquor and sugar. And there's nothing that is not classy about it.
Be careful though. This recipe requires bourbon. This recipe requires that you use expensive bourbon. Well, we didn't do that. We did the next best thing and used Maker's Mark. If you've never had Maker's Mark, please, God, try it. It's great.
One last note: Unless you are interested in being a puddle on the floor, please be responsible while drinking these. Since we live in New York, we have access to a 24 hour train, but we know not everyone does. So please be responsible drinking these. We don't want our readers to be injured in any way.
So without further ado:
(Makes 1 drink)
1 scant ounce minted simple syrup
2 cups crushed ice
2 ounces bourbon (such as Woodford Reserve)
Fresh mint sprig, for garnish
To highball glass or silver Julep cup, add minted simple syrup, then 1 cup crushed ice, bourbon, and splash of water. Add enough of remaining ice to almost fill glass. Stir well and garnish with mint sprig.
WHAT? Dammit, Sundberg! You put a thing in them there ingredients that we didn't have a recipe for! What are you trying to pull? Not everyone has Minted Simple Syrup hanging around you damned Phish-listening hippie!
Relax. Here's the recipe:
Minted Simple Syrup
(makes about ½ cup)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 bunch mint
In heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together water and sugar until sugar dissolves. Increase heat slightly, then simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take pan off heat, add mint leaves, and steep 15 minutes. Strain, then refrigerate syrup until cold, about 3 hours. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)
[Just so everyone knows, Hannah and I will be moving, in June, to Brooklyn. Since we're a bit pre-occupied with the moving itinerary, we might not be posting as often as we'd like. Sorry. But in the next month, you will see a brand new, bright sparkly kitchen. And hopefully, the pictures will look better, too. Also, if you would like to come over for dinner, please do drop us a note, we'd be happy to have you. If you bring bourbon.]