Thursday, December 31, 2009

Red Gopher Has Spasmodic Breathing Sound Or Discoteque!


The Hebrew National brand hot dog is the worlds' best hot dog. Best quality, best spices, best flavor, period. I bought a pack of these on sale recently, never tried them before, and I was just totally impressed. I mean, yeah, its just tube steak, I know. But it's everything a hot dog is supposed to be and none of the things you run into too often...those gasoline flavored, foamy, splurty, tallowy things coated with elephant ass grease or whatever that weird crap is. I prize that lack of elephant ass grease in particular because its one of those things that if you don't develop a taste for it in youth you're probably never going to and I never did. Hebrew National hot dogs are 100% free of elephant ass grease. They also don't have that weird clear jello crap all over them like canned ham, or visible tattoos. All plusses, in my book.

Go buy some Hebrew National hot dogs and make awesome


1 eight-oz can of commercial beef chili, dumped into a pan and hit with a hand mixer until it's sort of slushy. What you want to do is break everything down into uniform chunks, not make a liquid.

1/3 cup minced white onion
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons lime juice

Stir together and place over medium low heat.
Dump six whole hot dogs into the pan and dunk them under the sauce. Let this heat for about 1/2 an hour, then serve in nice sturdy sandwich rolls with some sauce spooned inside. Don't use regular hot dog buns because they'll melt.

This fall I had my usual overflow crop of tomatoes (because I rule,) and in addition to those my Bermuda onions went batshit and were rolling all over the place. Right at the same time there was a bumper crop of peppers coming in from Canada...multicolored bells, sweets, hots, Anaheim's, jalpenos, anchos, Hungarians, everything you can imagine. I bought those by the huge bagfull. Once my freezer was full I still had seven metric shit-tons of produce left, and so I switched on my dehydrator, dug out my mandoline slicer and made

This is not rocket science.

You need
a good big dehydrator...
...this is an 'Excalibur' brand and its a good one. Don't waste your money on one of those round ones; the only thing they're good for is drying that bud you grew in your bathroom.

a mandoline slicer...
...I wish I had one this nice; if you google/image the phrase 'mandoline slicer' you'll see a crappy one made out of white plastic which is the one I have. Anywho, use the thinnest slice adjustment on it.

a grindey thing....
...truthfully about the only thing a blade bean grinder is really good for; what you want is a BURR style grinder for coffee beans. So HA on you if you have one of these because it sucks and is stupid and smells.

and the ability to ignore the smell of tomatoes, peppers and onions for two days at a time.
1. Slice vegetables as thinly as possible
2.Dehydrate (as in: hit the 'on' button of the dehydrator and then go sculpt the Space Needle out of lard like you've been wanting to do)
3. Pulverize

...OK fine.
The tomatoes will take the longest. The first day, slice your tomatoes very, very thin and dehydrate them until they shatter. Now what I mean here is not merely crispy, I mean they should shatter like a dry leaf. The tomatoes will take about 24 hours. Start them on high, and despite what the instructions on the dehydrator says, turn the trays 180 every hour. Take them out about midway through, pry them off the grids and turn them over. After about three hours of this, or when they are withered and leathery and no longer drippy at all, turn down the heat to low and let them go all night.

The next day, slice up the onions and peppers-once again, very very thinly. Knock the sliced onions into rings, then load the dehydrator. Start everything on high for the first hour, turn them 180, and then then turn down the heat to medium and let them go until they shatter, which should take all afternoon. (The reason I say to do the onions and peppers together is, that while doing them alone would work just fine, a whole load of onions by themselves in the dehydrator going all day long gets pretty stinkass after awhile. Onions and peppers together just smells a lot better.)

Now you can pulverize them. Go ahead and use a mortar and pestle. *snork* Build up those biceps. Go ahead. It'll work. You'll be doing it for a week, but it WILL work.

You can use a regular blender as long as you run very small batches at a time, just a few chips.

A food processor will zip right through them, but it won't powder them as finely as a blender will (in other words, you'll get granules, not talc.)

A blade coffee mill will do the job, but make sure you thoroughly wipe out the mill after you use it for this.

Once pulverized, combine them all together in a jar with a tight lid and shake it up.

I have no interest whatsoever what kind of combinations or ratios or varieties you decide to use because its none of my business. Obviously if you use hot peppers its going to be spicy, and if you use vidalia onions its going to be sweet; just as if you were to use a parakeet it would be parakeety. In addition you could put some salt in there; maybe a little lemon pepper or some chili-lime spice. I mean, go nuts. Cumin, oregano, bay, powdered garlic, plain black pepper, sassafras, achiote, do what you feel.

Dump it on some fish or eggs, or in soup, or on your mother.

I finally beat the crows to my hazelnuts and took a nice little harvest off my tree for the first time this year! And by 'I' I mean 'my daughter and grandson' because I didn't feel like grovelling around in the grass at the time, so I threw a couple of bowls in their direction, found some shade and cracked a beer.

The only problem with hazelnuts is that they're kind of process-intensive and fiddly. I cannot hull hazelnuts without fragging my entire surroundings in a 9 foot radius. Then I go all gifted and talented on they ass and put the meats into the shell pile and vice versa, or they get stuck in the shell and then I wham them with a hammer to get the shell off and they turn into moosh, or I hit them 67 times and chase them all over hells half acre and they turn out to be empty and it's just sad.

Once you have your small little handful of nutmeats and have disposed of the seven garbage bags of hulls that once held them, you have to toast them and skin them before you can use them to cook with. This means spreading the meats out on a metal tray in the oven and baking them on moderate until they smell toasty, and then dumping them into a big towel, bundling it up and smacking the bundle against the wall which looks both intelligent and sane, while random nutmeats go bouncing around your kitchen and brown flitters fly everywhere.
After all this drudgery you deserve a treat. Make some

In a bain marie, melt one cake of broken-up Abuelita style Mexican chocolate, 1/2 cup fondant sugar, a couple of tablespoons of Hershey's special dark unsweetened cocoa, some heavy cream to keep things fluid, six ounces of white chocolate chips, and at least two cups of roughly chopped, toasted hazelnuts. Just keep stirring, tasting and dipping. Add cream until you have what you consider a nice dip consistency. Once everything is melted and you're satisfied with it, put it in a bowl and serve it with an insouciant air and some biscotti.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Quaint Vignettes From My Charming Rural Idyll

The best books of the past year:

No superlatives are adequate. Stop reading this and run out and get Ol' Smilla RIGHT NOW. The writing kicks ass, the story is riveting and the main character is the only woman in recent fiction that I could see myself being able to talk to for longer than five minutes. Except for the lady in....

Oh, it starts out simple and charming. It is most assuredly NOT simple and charming. And it most assuredly is not merely a story about a woman who decides to be a detective. This one is worth whatever you have to pay for it, folks. As is...

It took me a long time to pick this up, and I was so glad I did. There are passages in this book that are so lucid that you experience them as visual memory. No shit. The only other author I've read that was able to elicit a scene like that was Kipling. Don't go into this expecting a story. It's many stories, and some of them are horrible and vast tangled around stories simple as dirt. How they even thought they could make a movie out of this one plumb eludes me.

I gotta go but I'll be back later this evening...I have to go to the dentist.


The dentist actually was not bad. I had to get a filling, which only took half an hour. Yeah, no kidding! I tell you what, its not like back in the '60's when you'd come out of the office after two hours, picking crap out of your hair and off the front of your shirt and tasting burnt enamel.
Since I have not been in to see the dentist since these amazing strides were made in the art, I was expecting SS Field Marshal Fred Flintstone wielding a stone hammer and a bird with a pointy beak like I'm used to; thus I was baked off my tits on Valium.
Half an hour later I'm completely through the procedure and just beginning to peak back out in the car. Fortunately I had enlisted my daughter to do the driving, and while she nattered on about boob jobs and public transportation I smiled and nodded and enjoyed the chemicals.

I did something this year that I haven't done since I was a little kid, which was to go hit the post-Christmas sales. I came out of the experience having learned two things: you can make out like a BANDIT, and that I will never set foot in the Bon Marche again. You want to talk about a nasty, sniffy, shitty bunch of entitled women. Meaning the clientele, of course; not the longsuffering and generally excellent staff. They were lovely and attentive, which I can only attribute to some kind of selective Bon Marche clerk breeding program in the Midwest because if I worked there I'd be tasing some bitches in the throat. I had forgotten how utterly putrid a certain class of woman can be. Shopping for a scarf in the accessories department of the Bon brought it all cascading back. Oh the eye-rolling! The sneering! The curled lips and the exasperated sighs! Nasty Clinique-marinated matrons thrusting their diamond studded chicken claws past your face to finger the cashmere with the mindless avidity of zombies eating a baby, botoxed foreheads glinting in the fluorescent light! Skeletal high school girls, bad Ferragamo knock-off bags like buckle encrusted footballs tucked in each ones armpit, huffing their impatience with having to stand and wait to use their credit cards! Nobody meeting anybody elses gaze, grim, pissy and was a less than delightful shopping experience. And all to buy a 6 foot length of yarn for 93 goddamn dollars? I walked my ass down to Target and found the same scarf for 23 bucks. Fuck the Bon.

Just for the record: I now own NINE different Jimi Hendrix t-shirts!

One more good book for the road:
Oh man. This one was so intense I had to put it down a lot and just think about it all. I knew these women-not literally, of course- but I had no idea. NO FUCKING IDEA WHATSOEVER. This is our history. Read it. Be ready to feel some shit. This woman;s struggle to simply make a living and live out each day in peace and dignity makes Henri Charriere's efforts to escape the French prison islands look like the Jungle ride at Disneyland.