Friday, September 28, 2007

i need the recipe for a hot potato knish. yes, NEED.

...and also the recipe for a Monte Christo sandwich. Anything else I'll let you know.

Daves' Delicatessen no longer exists. That is a crime and a crying shame. I've heard that Dave and Shirley started up another place after the Blue Mouse Block was torn down, but that happened after I'd moved away.

At the time I'm talking about, Daves' Deli was located on 3rd and Morrison, down in the seedy numbers of downtown Portland, Oregon, three blocks up from the Willamette river. On the one hand it was just down the street from the hippie-lefty Looking Glass Bookstore, which was cool. Unfortunately it also happened to be right around the corner from the Blue Mouse Theater*, notorious at that time for playing triple-X movies. (Incidentally this place had the single coolest sign* I have ever seen or will ever see period... a long vertical strip of neon and painted tin, blue on blue, reading

with small, villainous-looking mice that scampered and flickered all around the margins from the time the sun went down until 5 am. By God, I would pay money to see that sign again. It lit my way home from many a party out where I had no business being.)

Anyway. Daves'.

Daves' was on a dogleg, open on the 3rd Street side to the barroom, making a right angle behind the pawn shop and exiting onto Morrison through the cafeteria.

The bar was called The Ranch Room...wagon wheel lights, longhorn mounts, heavy on the rustic, sticky on the upholstery. All the stewbums that could stagger up from Burnside that far sat in the booths and eyeballed the perverts waiting for the matinee to start next door while both parties drank and smoked like chimneys.

On the Morrison street side the door opened between two big windows with a gold star of David painted on on each one, one side saying 'Daves' Delicatessen' in Hebrew, the other in English. Daves' wife had a whole garden full of plants in each window, all of them struggling along in the pale rainy light and the steamy, cigarette- flavored air. Stacks of rumpled Nickel ads were crammed between the pots.

During the morning and early afternoon the old people claimed the seats just inside the Morrison street windows so they could see to read the paper. Later in the afternoon when I rolled in they were usually long gone and I would snag the booth and pore over the left-behind Yiddish newspapers, which might as well have been in Chinese for all I knew. I got the biggest kick out of seeing things like Lampheres Furniture or Tom Pedersons' Ford ads in Hebrew.

The place was one long line from the 3rd street door: coat rack, cigarette machine and small table to the left where the help would break, and then the line. Next came three little two-tops running center, and across the aisle booths lining the far wall all the way down to the cash register. Anemic pothos and variegated spider plants garlanded with fuzzy brown cobwebs swung high overhead, and old rope encircled pictures of cowboy brands decorated the walls up into the gloom.

For the entire time I went there the steam line was the domain of a small and very gay gentleman in countermans' whites, bald as an egg, who ran up and down up and down all day long like a parrot in a cage, never missing a customer, never spilling a drop. This guy had panache. He moved like Fred Astaire and he talked a running line of b.s. like a vaudeville sidekick.

When Dave ran the kitchen and his wife Shirley ran the till the jokes and commentary were non-stop. A lot of what was said back and forth between the kitchen, the register and the steam line got huge laughs from the regular clientele, and it's only now that I look back on it that I realize that there was some was pretty racy stuff flying back and forth across the dining room. Sometimes it all lapsed into Yiddish, and the altercockers* up by the door liked that a lot. Half the time you walked in the whole place would be a riot of laughter...Shirley whooping and leaning on the cash register, some old guy next to the door smacking himself on the leg with his Yiddish version of the Oregonian and about ready to have a heart attack, he was laughing so hard.

They called me 'sweetheart'. Everyone did.

I used to have dinner there when I was feeling low. It helped that the place was on my bus route, a half a block down from the open air market where I transferred onto the #30.

I had hot potato knishes with brown gravy, green beans, matzoh ball soup, corn with pimentos and peas, and a Dr. Browns soda. There is nothing nicer on a rainy evening than a hot potato knish. (It was a big ball of mashed potato, browned on the outside, with some yummy meatloaf inside and brown gravy over top of it. It was one of those foods that you were so greedy for and grateful to eat when it arrived that it was gone before you could figure out what was in it, or I'd be making it to this day. Ak, I could kick myself!) I'd eat huge huge bagels with cream cheese piled on so thick it was ridiculous. I had Reuben sandwiches and corned beef on rye and fondant-dusted Monte Christos (oh Heaven!) with a big ol honkin slice of dill pickle laying next to it, half-in the cole slaw. I had matzoh ball soup here for the first time, and lingered so long nipping tiny pieces off the sunny matzoh balls trying to make it last that I missed my bus. I wish I'd had the noodle kugel. The counterman was always trying to get me to try it, but back then I though it was too noodley looking. Same with the borscht; too purple. I know; I'm a doof.

I seem to remember this place best in association with the Rocky Horror Picture show**. The first time I ever heard about it, I was sitting there eating a corned beef sandwich with Sonnyboy.

In the evening after work I would sit there in the front booth and watch the people rush back and forth outside with their umbrellas. The warm room was as long and narrow as a freight car, the light shady amber from the nicotened fixtures. I'd puzzle over my Yiddish newspaper and look out through the steamy windows and watch the rain come down. The evening would fall and the lights would come on. The steam would run down the windows and the traffic lights would change red to green through the little rivers of water, and in the background the cups and bowls clattered and the coffee poured and good smells rose from the line. Shirley would wander by and put her hand on my shoulder in passing and smile at me, and move on. Dave would sit with the counterman at the break table and smoke, greeting people as they came in. I would drink my soda and wipe up the gravy with a piece of bread, and feel like I belonged someplace.

*I seem to remember this place briefly being called 'Victor' before it became The Blue Mouse. Am I high? Anyone know? This had to have been around 1965 or so. Here's a link:
...Scroll to the very last picture on this page. Daves Delicatessen was on the right, where the sign above the window says 'sundries'. The entrance to the Ranch Room was to the left, right next to the theatres' loggia, under the sign that says 'toiletries'. When I knew the place, the space in the corner with the pillar in the entry was a pawn shop.

You can't see the dancing mousies in this picture. They were picked out in neon tubing and were suspended by the metal framework you can make out surrounding the sign.
-Well, I care.

**I don't know if I've got the spelling right, and I don't know if that means something off color or not either, but thats my recollection of the phrase.

***Here's another mammary:

...fine; it's a building.

This is the place where (I used to stand in the freezing rain at 12:30 pm to see Tim Curry look better than me in makeup) I used to go and see the Rocky Horror Picture Show! Six times! God! Think of the toast!

Pop again!

I had no idea there were so many different kinds of weird pop out there. I figured it was only American culture that spawned that kind of novelty, but apparently no.

A lot of these things started out as tonics of one sort or another...usually claiming to treat fatigue and constipation, which back in them thar days was referred to as 'digestive disorder' because it simply would not do to say 'constipation'. In fact I've taken a fit of the fan-tods just writing it.*

Dandelion and Burdock I cannot figure out. It seems to have been inspired by misguided thrift ("Oo lookit the brown guck running off the compost heap, Nigel! Got to be something we could make out of that!") Fentimans makes it, along with a small but interesting selection of other mildly wackoid-sounding beverages.** Apparently it's being craft-brewed and marketed on the 'fayre' circuit in crockery bottles coated with wax, which to my mind makes it sound rather more like a dangerous explosive than a soda drink, but whatever. I'll tell you what, betcha its diuretic as old billy heck. And everyone knows that if you deliberately take something that makes you spend a lot of time in the bathroom then it has to be doing some good, right? Right.

D&B has a relative in the American Dr. Browns Cel-Ray soda, a pop made from celery seed extract. Celery seed is diuretic too. Once again: what induced urination is supposed to do to promote good health is a mystery to me. I figure it has to do with the fact that all this stuff was invented before they had television.

Vimto seems to have entered the market as a constipation remedy. Even though they adamantly refuse to release the secret formula, you have only to look at the adsite design to discern that Vimto is made from raspberries, other berries, and green cocktail olives. Just thinking about it makes me feel regular.

This has it's parallel in the American beverage Dr. Pepper, which is carbonated prune juice, and tastes like this:
...southbound end of a northbound Tato

There used to be numbers on the label that told you what time to 'take' it each day, but they made them discontinue that in the 1960's because not even stoned people believed it cured anything by that point.

Irn Bru started life as an invigorant. Now to me, that sounds suspiciously like a Scottish version of Hadacol (oh look it up) to me. Their vague description of the flavor as 'light, citrusy, and refreshing' leads me to believe that it also tastes like Hadacol; ie, thin mud. This puts it in the same butch as fuck classification as neat gin as far as I'm concerned... you drink it because you're hard, and if you have anything to get hard it makes it harder.

Personally I don't think any of it does jack shit. It's like Bach flower remedies. It's all marketing. I remember when aspartame first came out and everyone was making all kinds of claims for it, too. It was supposed to make white mice grow out of your face or cure verticilllium wilt or something.

Early on in my history with Prozac one of the doctors I visited actually instructed me to drink diet pop every day with my meals. 'It's the aspartame', he explained. 'It metabolizes into a mild psychoactive that operates on the pleasure centers of the brain. The pop companies know this and that's why it's selling so well, you see. ' The same doctor also told me to eat some chocolate at least once a day for the theobromines. I don't have a problem with that, to be sure. What cast a shadow of suspicion on all this left-of-center advice for me was when the same doctor told me to drink a shotglass of Linseed oil every day.
A SHOTGLASS of linseed oil.
You thin paint with linseed oil.
I decided, no, I'll just have to risk squeaking or whatever dire ill that was supposed to prevent. I'll just eat more chocolate to make up for it.

* Someone send Katy for the smelling salts!!
Nah, fuck the ammonium carbonate; pass the laudenum. If I'm gonna have 'digestive disorders' then I might as well enjoy it.

**in particular their 'Curiosity Cola'. It sounds like it has a two-headed calf floating around in it. I am all for that.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Cultural Snow: We don't do God

He's right. He's absolutely right.

Here he is.

Footman, your fu is unbeatable.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Red Snake Final Hour of Plaid Payback!

What is that weird flavor in energy drinks? The really sickly sweet one, kind of bubblegum mixed with perm solution? It's HORRIBLE! And they all taste like that!

People kept telling me that Sobe Adrenaline Rush 'Juiced' was different. I tried it. AUGH! There was that flavor again, only this time it was joined by what tasted and smelled like the gross syrup off a can of peaches. Of course I was driving, and of course I cracked the can and took a big ol' glug of it. I almost had to pull over to the side of the road. For the rest of the day I could smell it...on my breath, on my hands, in my sweat and every time I took a whiz...which it tinted a scary neon tangerine color. I'll stick with coffee.

Sobe also scored another miss with their 'Lizard Blizzard'. It's thick, its white, and it's a liquid. Was it entirely necessary that the name rhyme with 'jizz'? Am I missing something? Am I not the target market? It's always the last soda in the case Tuesday night when they restock. Second to last is Orbitz. It's a measure of just how deeply revolting this whole concept is, even to stoned people, that they'd sooner buy clear shampoo looking crap with little blue and orange spheres floating around in it like a lava lamp than a nice cold bottle of Lizard jizz.

Of course every time I like a new beverage that comes out they discontinue it. It is obvious to me that this is a conspiracy. I loved 'Jolt' Cola. LOVED the stuff. Discontinued here. You have to drive all the way to Blaine to get a Jolt Cola now and that defeats the purpose if you ask me. V8 with lemon? Drank it by the quart. Gone. Shasta Red Apple soda was excellent stuff! Came out about 1970; tasted exactly like a Red Delicious apple. Of course it's gone. Stewarts Strawberry cream soda? Tastes exactly like one of those yummy strawberry candies they use to stuff the corners of Hickory Farms holiday baskets. Discontinued locally. And remember Pepsi Free, the one that had the lemon flavoring in it? Came out about 1985? Gone. Lasted one year. You had to buy it out of one of those talking pop machines, which is probably why it got discontinued come to think of it because those things were freaky. 'HEY! Have a Pepsi!' it would shout, and my daughter would leap out of the shopping cart face first.

Grape and Strawberry Nehi? Gone. RC Cola-the BEST tasting cola ever made? Auf Wieder, Zane. And what about Dr. Browns? Betcha never heard of it, huh. (Shhh, G.)

Dr. Browns is the gold standard of pop. Dr. Browns is the Cadillac of pop. Not a bad flavor in the entire Dr. Browns lineup, and all of them made with juice-not chemicals. How good was Browns? They made celery pop and people drank it. Yup. Carbonated celery juice. One you got used to the idea (and you had to get used to the idea every time you took a sip) it was ok...kind of salady. Not my favorite. But drinkable.

Now. Do you think the Coca Cola Corporation has that kind of balls? Oh hell no. Only Bad Dr. Brown had the balls to make celery soda pop. He was like ' My pop-making fu is so badass I could make pop out of brown paper grocery bags and you'd like it. Yeah you would.'
I miss Dr. Brown.

Good thing there's beer.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

weird food

Kind of a 'victory from the jaws of defeat' thing.

As always, the conversion charts are below so you don't have to make a long distance call to the United States and ask George Bush what 375 degrees is in Celsius. Anyway I can just about guarantee he doesn't know.
I know this sounds bizarre but it's REALLY good. You could call it
if it makes you feel better.

1/2 block cream cheese (4 oz)
2-more or less- loose handfuls of spinach leaves, stemmed washed and dried
1/2 lb smoked turkey chopped
2 tbls ranch dressing
2 tbls Sandwich Onions
1/2 cup yogurt
1 plain, untoasted bagel torn up into really small pieces

Run it all through the cuisinart until it's as mixed as it can possibly get. In mine this means a thick, grainy paste.
Dump over HOT pasta, and toss to combine. Linguine is nice for serving hot (as is running this under the broiler for a couple of seconds to brown the top before you serve it. As a matter of fact this would make a kickass casserole with a little milk added, maybe some pecorino grated on top...? I should try that. )

To serve cold, use something really bumpy like radiatore or shells. Toss with hot noodles, and use a lot more sauce than you think you'll need because the noodles will soak it up-then chill for a few hours.

(low fat version-neuchatel cheese, lowfat yogurt, lowfat ranch and some olive oil splashed in to fill in the blanks.)

{this is a thinner version of a ravioli filling I usually make... with white bread crumbs and smoked ham in place of the bagel and turkey, and grated mozzerella in place of the yogurt.}

oo, these are cool!{{{{{}}}}}}{{{{{{}}}}} it makes a design! {{{}{}{}{}{}}}}{{}{

very very ugly and also really good.

3 + cups white flour- depending on humidity of day, add more during kneading
2 packets yeast
1/3 c up soft margarine-add in with dry ingredients and mix.

1 egg room temp
1 scant cup water, hot from the faucet
1/2 to 2/3 cups sugar
10 cardamom seeds
1/2 tsp gr.cinnamon
1/2 tsp gr. nutmeg

1 1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs...blend into a fine paste in cuisinart, then add

1/3 cup coarse chopped almond
Stir to combine.

NOTE: in this recipe, yeast is as much a flavor ingredient as it is leavening. This dough won't rise very much once the filling is stirred in so don't freak out. What you want are stretchy lengths of gluteny dough in ribbons and blooms through the finished muffins.

Dump dry ingredients and margarine into cuisinart, blend. Yes, even the yeast. This isn't 1888; you don't need to proof the damn yeast.

Put the spices into the hot water and whir in a blender or with an immersion mixer for a couple of minutes. Let this steep for awhile,like a half hour or so, until the water is cooled down to room temp. Then pass through a strainer, discarding spice residue. (This keeps any spice bread from becoming too rank to eat over time like some do. Cardamom is bad for doing this; so are cloves.) Drop in egg and mix slightly, just to get it scrambled around.

Turn on the cuisinart and pour the wet ingredients in. When the mixture cleans the bowl, turn off the machine, cover with a towel and ignore for 20 minutes.

Turn out on board and knead, adding in flour when the mixture gets sticky, which will be often. You want it very loosey goosey. After about three or four minutes, set dough aside in a covered bowl in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.

Have a muffin pan ready.

Turn the dough out onto the counter and roll it flat. Spread the filling out all over the top of it. Roll it up on itself and then plunk it back into the rising bowl and mash it around a little by driving a spatula through it. It should start to get goopy and disgusting looking. Good! Don't beat the hell out of it, just goop it about a couple of times. It'll tear, the filling will glick out; that's fine.

Using a large spoon or your hands, fill the muffin cups with big disgusting glops of this mixture.
I have a muffin pan with really big muffin shapes so it all fits, but yours might be different. Don't worry, you can do two batches or use two pans or whatever.

Set aside to rise for 20 minutes; it won't, very much.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375.

Heave into the heated oven and cook for 40 minutes-I had to go 40+ because it was raining.
What comes out is horrible looking and it tastes DEEEEEVINE! Crunchy in places, goopy in places, cakey in some, bready in others, and almonds for crunchiness. All the tastes harmonize and it isn't just some homogenous sweet thing. Every bite is a little different.

(So yeah, this is basically a filled coffee bread that failed. Not enough flour in the dough, could of used another egg, and the filling was WAY too wet. Should of used apple butter instead of sauce and less at that, and a few more gingersnaps. Still, I did invent these rockin little muffies!)

Fahrenheit to Celsius conversion...

and here is a conversion chart for all kinds of shit, including cooking nomenclature. scroll down to choose the conversion category you want: