Book 2, Food references

The Mockingjay Cracker

Peeta’s cheese buns

“From the bag I pull two fresh buns with a layer of cheese baked into the top. We always seem to have a supply of these since Peeta found out they were my favorite.”

“I buy a bag of sweets for Prim.”

“I eat three bowls of stew and half a loaf of bread while the others dine at the table.”

Tea and toast: the universal panacea

“My mother ladles out a mug of broth for me, and I ask for a second mug to take to Haymitch… We sit there, almost peacefully, sipping our broth and watching the sun set through the living room window.”

Haymitch’s bar: Ripper’s hootch, wine

“A cold soup of puréed vegetables. Fish cakes with a creamy lime paste. Those little birds filled with orange sauce, with wild rice and watercress. Chocolate custard dotted with cherries.”

“…I curl up next to him on the couch with my milk, which is really delicious with the honey and the spices…”

“Lunch makes me feel a little bit better. Pheasant with a selection of jewel-colored jellies, and tiny versions of real vegetables swimming in butter, and potatoes mashed with parsley. For dessert we dip chunks of fruit in a pot of melted chocolate, and Cinna has to order a second pot because I just start eating the stuff with a spoon.”

“He tosses another sugar cube in his mouth and saunters off.”

“I’ve spent years watching him pass a bottle back and forth with Haymitch on television.”

“… the only time I really feel present is when I purposefully knock a dish of peas to the floor…our hands meet. I can feel his skin, rough under the buttery sauce from the dish…”

“In a minute, sausage, eggs, potatoes, bread, juice, and hot chocolate appear.”

“He’s eating a turkey leg.”

Posted by on September 25th, 2019

Book 1, Food references

Posted by on September 25th, 2019

Wacky Seester for Queen 2020

I’ve decided to throw my tiara in the ring with all the other horses out there jockeying for a presidential nomination. Why the hell not? Half the cars I see out there have bumper stickers that support “Any Reasonable Adult in 2020.”

Well, I’m a reasonable adult. Mostly. (Except when it comes to cooking, standards, and hobbies.) Also, I’m going to lobby for a constitutional monarchy. Americans absolutely swoon over royalty. Well, half of my family was practically royalty in their city. Wealthy landowners with tenant farmers, marriages arranged to conveniently keep the money among the rich people, multiple generations sitting on top of what was essentially a feudal society almost to the middle of the 20th century – yup.

At least, that was before the Communists showed up, chaos reigned, and the whole notion of property rights and individual liberties went out the window. Okay, maybe the rich people had more individual liberties than the poor. You show me a successful society where that isn’t the case? Anyway, it isn’t actually that the rich people have more individual liberties – they just have more money to show off the fact that they can afford liberties the rest of us can only aspire to through hard work.

So, yeah, I’m basically a princess.

(Royalty box: check.)

Posted by on August 6th, 2019

I’ll Have Mine Unfiltered, Please

A popular Chinese blogger who called herself “Your Highness Qiao Biluo” was discovered – le gasp – to not be the beautiful, sexy, glamorous Young Thing she purported to be. In a report from the BBC, a technical glitch during a livestream revealed the actual appearance of what some of her followers called a “cute goddess.”

Qiao BiLuo, real face on the left, filtered face on the right.

A post on ZeroHedge summed it up nicely:

“It stunned her fans, who were apparently unaware that everyone on the internet may not actually be who they present themselves to be.

ZeroHedge, 7/30/2019

Given the overwhelming response of surprise by Biluo’s followers, I have done some intensive research in order to aid the unsuspecting public, many of whom are apparently unaware that the Internet might not be entirely truthful.

For your enlightenment, here are side-by-side pictures of a few Famous People whose public images I strongly suspect to be subject to Internet filters:

YouTuber Blogger, Belle Delphine (if you don’t know who she is, Google her name with “bathtub water”)

CNN host Anderson Cooper

Former First Lady Hillary Clinton

Freshman rep Alexandria Ocasio Cortez

President Donald Trump

Any questions?

Posted by on July 31st, 2019

Millenial Clutter Defenders, You’re Missing the Point

“Marie Kondo and the Rise of Clutter Shaming,” I read. What the hell is clutter shaming? I thought. So I clicked through to, if nothing else, see if I would learn about more millennial angst-speak.

The author (who freely admits that he would ban straws, won’t buy his kids material presents, and supports taxing everyone into the Stone Age,) says that

… thinking that we have too much worthless junk lying around in our landfills and our homes is not the same thing as dressing up a bad argument for minimalism with mystic mumbo-jumbo.

WSJ

Marie Kondo and the Rise of Clutter Shaming,” I read. What the hell is clutter shaming? I thought. So I clicked through to, if nothing else, see if I would learn about more millennial angst-speak.

Well, I certainly don’t buy into the whole Thank The House, Thank Your Stuff aspect of KonMarie. Sorry, I just don’t do the Shinto thing. And every movement has its wacko fanatics. I’m sure there are plenty of Marie Kondo devotees who believe the path to enlightenment begins (and probably ends) at your wastebasket. Hey, if living in an empty box flips your skirt up, be my guest. But the opposite argument, that clutter is to be cherished, is also to miss the point.

When you look at a book of Victorian interiors, you don’t see minimalism.

No. In the carefully curated pictures of Victorian households, you aren’t looking at “clutter,” per se. You’re looking at photos of families who were so rich, their main pastime was sitting around figuring out who would get married off to whom. These people were so concerned with Staying Upper Class, they invented eugenics. What you’re looking at, in these photos, is the accumulated stuff of generations. The difference between it and clutter is probably How Much It Cost and family stories like Oh Uncle Howard Brought That Back After Excavating An Egyptian Pyramid. Half of their stuff are museum pieces.

Drunk-walking wind-up dino? Not so much.

Kondo’s basic philosophy is this: your mental well-being is affected by your clutter level, probably in ways you haven’t considered. So, rearranging your stuff is one way to tidy your life in general. She specifically says, don’t just toss it all out. Figure out what’s really important to you and fit it into your life.

In short, make a commitment. Own it. Don’t waffle about “Well Maybe Someday I’ll Use It.” She’s way too polite to say it, but her KonMarie method might as well be “Shit or get off the pot.”

Clutter-clutchers, defenders of hanging onto your crap, soft-sell wafflers – it’s what you are. In the usual Millennial mold, you want someone to tell you it’s okay to just carry on like nothing’s wrong, and your refusal to commit to a decision is cheeky, or even a rebellious act of bravery!

It’s not. Shit or get off the pot.

Posted by on February 4th, 2019

We Who Are Your Closest Friends

I came across this poem while reading Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott and laughed out loud immediately. I think your reaction to the first time you read this poem is a kind of Rorschach test.

phillip lopate, 1943
(from poets.org)

we who are
your closest friends
feel the time
has come to tell you
that every Thursday
we have been meeting
as a group
to devise ways
to keep you
in perpetual uncertainty
frustration
discontent and
torture
by neither loving you
as much as you want
nor cutting you adrift

your analyst is
in on it
plus your boyfriend
and your ex-husband
and we have pledged
to disappoint you
as long as you need us

in announcing our
association
we realize we have
placed in your hands
a possible antidote
against uncertainty
indeed against ourselves
but since our Thursday nights
have brought us
to a community of purpose
rare in itself
with you as
the natural center
we feel hopeful you
will continue to make
unreasonable
demands for affection
if not as a consequence
of your
disastrous personality

then for the good of the collective

Posted by on January 16th, 2019

Why Popular Vote Will Never Go Through

TIL: they let people vote on the name for Huntsville, AL’s minor league baseball team. They are now:

The Rocket City Trash Pandas.

I want a shirt. Immediately.

Posted by on January 16th, 2019

Cream Puffins

Happy New Year!

I spent my New Year’s eve making pastry. Specifically:

CREAM PUFFINS.

Go forth and make your own little flock, they’re delicious!

Posted by on January 1st, 2019

Embossed Cookie Roller

I’m a catalog window shopper. It started when I was little; my grandmother received a variety of catalogs but for some reason, I gravitated to Swiss Colony and (get this) Carolina Biological Supply. Yes, that’s right, my childhood reading included a heaping mix of attractively packaged sweets (the petit-fours in particular) and pickled frogs. It’s true.

But anyway, that’s just the amusing beginnings of my habit of browsing catalogs. I get one from King Arthur Flour. I’m a reasonably intermediate baker, so I mostly skim it in search of inspiration, but the one thing I’ve always admired are the springerle cookies. Their crisp detail elevates them to miniature artworks – the best kind, because you can eat them.

Now, until recently I had yet to conquer properly molded shortbread (I’m nearly there now, though.) And then these wonderful rolling pins arrived under my Christmas tree:

Hedgehog. Rolling. Pin.

I also received foxes and owls, but everyone knows the hedgies score highest in the “Woo!” factor. Also, penguins.

Anyway, I looked up a springerle recipe from KAF and proceeded. Using one of these pins requires arriving at the intersection of the following conditions:

  1. Properly prepped pins. I sprayed mine with oil and then dusted lightly with flour. After the moon cake fiasco, I know better than to trust an untreated wooden mold.
  2. Properly chilled dough. Too warm and it sticks. Too cold and it will be too stiff to roll.
  3. Proper baking directions (more on that in a second.)
  • So I made the dough to spec and proceeded with baking. Round one:
  • Embossed Rolling Pin cookie.

    Embossed Rolling Pin cookie.

  • Burned after 12 minutes, and not a good impression. Recipe baking time said 10-12 min, and I usually use the longer time on the first batch. Alterations: return dough to fridge to chill firmer, press harder on the roller next time, reduce baking time to 10 min.
  • Round 2:
  • Embossed Rolling Pin cookie.

    Embossed Rolling Pin cookie.

  • Thinner cookies, a much better impression, but still burned at 10 minutes. Chill dough further, and reduce baking time again.
  • Round 3:
  • Embossed Rolling Pin cookie.

    Embossed Rolling Pin cookie.

  • Success! Reduced baking time to 5 minutes (these are probably thinner than the KAF recipe intends) but they baked beautifully, and the dough took quite a good impression.
  • Here are the owls:
  • Embossed Rolling Pin cookie.

    Embossed Rolling Pin cookie.

  • (Because they’re from Poland, they say Hoo! Hoo!)
  • And the foxes:
  • Embossed Rolling Pin cookie.

    Embossed Rolling Pin cookie.

  • I love this tool because I can press out a ton of impressively cute cookies with a minimum of effort. I may have to start collecting.
  • The recipe as written produces an okay cookie. It’s mechanically sound (bakes well once you get the conditions right), but I’d personally prefer something a little more like a speculoos cookie – crisper, a little sweeter, more spices. I’ll be monkeying with the recipe to see if I can achieve such a thing but presumably I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. But – woo! Or should I say, Hoo!
  • Posted by on December 28th, 2018

    Why Can’t I Seem To Cook Chinese Food? Part one

    Question time! Today’s question:

    Why don’t my Chinese food recipes ever taste like they do in the restaurant? The meat is always too dry, and the spices are always a little off.

    Ah, this is a good one, and the issues should be easily traceable. We’ll start with:

    Problem One: The Meat

    Your beef is probably turning out better than your pork, especially ground pork, am I right? I’ll bet most of your issues revolve around pork dishes. I partly blame the failure of the US consumers to properly learn their meat cuts (hint: “Angus” isn’t a part), but a heavy share of the blame rightly belongs to recipes that fail to specify a particular cut of pork.

    Because there are a lot of pork parts, and Chinese, (like the French), love them some piggo. Fun fact: the pictogram for “family/house” in Chinese is a roof over… a pig.

    China Daily USA: Why there’s a pig in it

    Meat, part one: Fat Content

    Anyhow. Let’s say you find a recipe that asks for ground pork. You pick up a package from the grocery that says “ground pork” but the problem is, unlike the beeves, there isn’t any fat content listed. Heck, you don’t even know what scraps they used to make this batch. Was it loin (totally lean)? Or shoulder (lots of connective tissue)? Or ham, or belly (sooo much fat)? That package could be lots of fat, or virtually none. And what you need is lots of fat.

    Unfortunately, most packages will be lean scraps, and so when you cook with it, what little fat there is will run out with the juices and leave you with a dry, mealy-tasting mixture.

    The Fix

    I’ve done one of two things, both of which seem to work well. If you’re making a recipe where the pork is not cased, add ground pork belly. That’s bacon, for the uninformed. I have a meat grinder attachment so I can grind at will, but for those of you not so fortunate, just ask the butcher at your meat counter to do it for you. Those guys do all kinds of stuff, even debone a shoulder and cube it for you. I love them.

    I would add at least 2 oz belly for every 8 oz unidentified ground. Mix and use.

    For recipes where the pork will be encased (think wontons, etc), you can massage in extra bacon fat saved from baking your morning breakfast batch. About 2 Tbs per 8 oz ground will suffice.

    Next time, Meat, Part two: The Cuts.

    Posted by on October 11th, 2018