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In’r bones

26 Jul

I haven’t been blogging because

a) I’m depressed!

b) Not entirely, but a lady’s gotta priotize her creative pursuits when energy is low, because

c) I’m working on my first art show in four years and it’s suuuuuuuuckiiiiing the tiiiiiime ouuuuuutta my liiiiiiife (BUT IN A REALLY GREAT WAY, BTDUBZ), and

d) It’s summertime, which means I get a massive CSA delivery every week and I basically just eat whatever vegetables they bring me in a sauteed pile of nondescript healthful goodness atop some rice or with some bread or whatever.

When it’s hot out I really don’t give two shits what I eat, so long as it’s fresh and good for me. Thus, blogging material is pretty slim. But amongst all this veggie nonsense I was like, HOLY BALLZ TIME FOR SOME LUXURY MEAT PRODUCTS. And this new butcher shop opened downtown, which is kind of a big deal since Bellingham hasn’t had a butcher shop is forever and everyone’s like WHOA I CAN GET REAL MEATZ NOW! (I apologize for my excessive capitalization and z-usage, it’s been awhile and I forgot how good it feels to type my inner monologue). So I bought some bone marrow, which, coincidentally, is kind of the opposite of luxury meat products, since people feed them to dogs, but whatever, I like dogs so I guess it’s all good.

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I remember getting bone marrow at the Copper Hog and thinking it was the fucking CATS PAJAMAS so I was like, I got this. 

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Aren’t they lovely? Aren’t they perfect? I shoved them in the oven and sauteed some zucchini, spring onion, and fresh garlic with parsley, sliced some bread, readied the last of my favorite cheese (fleur d’aunis), poured some wine and was all HERE I COME, MOTHERFUCKER.

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Weirdly, uhhh…

well. It tasted like a wet dog in a fire. Don’t ask me what that means, but it was rough. The marrow was all chunky and gelatinous and runny at the same time. It had an unpleasant smell and generally just put me off. I smeared some on the bread, sprinkled sea salt and some parsley on it, and, hoping for a drastic change of heart, bit in. Still! Rancid tasting! WTF, DUDE!

I guess I’ve either lost my taste for marrow or I just epicly screwed it up, it’s hard to say what happened exactly. But at least there was still cheese. Can’t say I didn’t try!

Pinterest, meet my food bitching. Sorry in advance.

14 Nov

Like most red-blooded Americans (because that is what I AM, DAMN IT), I am inherently fascinated with things that disgust and horrify me. This accounts for my morbid and earnest foray into the world of pro-eating disorder webpages that I frequented as a 12 year old, the oft-watched Intervention episodes as a teen (and later on: Hoarders, Toddlers in Tiaras, etc.), and other general train wrecks presented online that I can’t tear myself away from. It comes in many (many, many, maaaaany) glorious forms. But lately my interest is mostly piqued by the absolutely horrific displays of food on Pinterest. Listen, HATERS GONNA HATE. So I admit right now, I am being a judge-y, eyebrow-waggling, uppity food snob about this. AND IT FEELS SO GOOD. So please, enjoy my tour of the most disgusting food pins I’ve recently seen on Pinterest.

Cake Batter Martinis:


This is not my photo, obviously. None of the photos on this post are. They came from honest blogs whom I am currently disrespecting. Oh, goodie.

Okay, as if “cake” wasn’t already the worst flavor of ALCOHOL anyone ever thought of, they went ahead and made it cake batter. Since when is batter, in and of itself, a flavor of anything? This is nauseating, and possibly the most embarrassingly girly drink I’ve ever heard of. I guess it’s probably the whiskey lover in me talking, but HONESTLY- where is your shame!? Secondly, you rim the glass in frosting and dip it in sprinkles. Are we children? Are we at a party? Unless we are, the consumption of frosting should most likely be a littttttle more prudent. Also, “rimming your glass in frosting” is far too suggestive a phrase considering the childlike nature of this beverage. ABORT, ABORT!

Pepperoni Pizza Dip:

I am distressed by the pools of grease. If this were my slice of pizza, I’d dab a paper napkin on top a la 6th grade school cafeteria to soak up those puddles. But since it’s not a slice, it’s a dip, I suppose it’s to be inferred that pools of grease are totally cool to ingest. It’s a liquid, right? Like a DIP! So help yourself to a giant, molten pond of oily cheese and pepperoni! One helpful commenter suggested that it goes great with celery or carrots. Listen, I’m no health nut. But celery and melted pepperoni and cheese pizza DO NOT EVEN EACH OTHER OUT. BARF. Also, if you want to eat some crappy greasy pizza as we all feel like doing sometimes, just fucking do it! Don’t disguise it as a cutesy appetizer, you’re not fooling anybody.

Dorito Taco Bake:

I don’t know where to begin. Theoretically when all’s said and done, this thing tastes like a taco… but I eat tacos that taste like mostly like carne asada and cilantro. So, apparently there’s a whole other kind of taco I don’t even know about that tastes like crescent rolls (one of the ingredients) and Doritos (the other key ingredient [henceforth the word “ingredient” is now void of all meaning forever and ever amen]). I really have nothing else to say about this.

Cake mix plus quirky additions:

Apparently I’ve become a cake snob. If you’re gonna make a box cake STOP TRYING TO TRICK PEOPLE INTO THINKING IT’S NOT BOX CAKE! Whatever! Eat whatever weird box mix you want! But why are adding all sorts of random junk you found expired in your pantry trying to convince me it’s not a box cake!? I realize people are busy. Busy people should not bake cakes,they should just buy a nice one, or recruit their friends to make them a cake, because when busy people try to make cakes, this is what they come up with. And it’s awful.

For the record, I wholeheartedly discourage any recipe that includes the addition of chips or soda, for approximately one million obvious reasons.

Avocado and Cottage Cheese Snack:

You know, I’m not trying to be a dick. I appreciate the intention here. I like avocados. I like cottage cheese. At least this isn’t a crapload of hydrogenated shit. I might, in an act of low blood sugar desperation, eat this thing with no problem. I just hate that this is called a recipe. It’s two things. One of the things has a conveniently shallow opening and the other thing needs some sort of container. Thus, this recipe is born. Sigh. Siiiiiiigh.

Then there’s the entire category of Superbowl food, all of which is shaped like a football and completely unappetizing, but that should probably be saved for another post. I think my food-snobbery-crankiness has hit it’s peak for the evening.

Delicious Fungus, With A Pleasant Smack of Bird’s Nest!

29 Aug

C came home the other day announcing that the Asian grocery store near our house is going out of business and everything is 30% off… which is why alongside an enormous bag of potstickers and a package of wonton wrappers, he also had this:

Yum, bird’s nest drink! But wait, it also has WHITE FUNGUS IN IT!? My fave! The label is misleading, because bird’s nest is the LAST ingredient while white fungus is way at the top of the ingredient list, but you can’t blame the manufacturers for trying to trick me… bird’s nest is a huge selling point. But, uh, actually.

Like probably thousands of other idiots, I didn’t know that bird’s nest was something one might consider consuming until the Caves episode on Planet Earth, where bird’s nest harvesters are featured precariously plucking the nests from the cave walls. The narrator explains that the nests are made primarily from the saliva of the male cave swift, and are used in the Chinese delicacy, bird’s nest soup. Apparently this shit is REALLY EXPENSIVE which makes sense because in eating it, you are literally eating a baby bird’s cozy home. Think about that for a minute.

I have one major question that lingers, before I try it, though. Don’t birds like… poop… in their nests? I mean, I’m already trying to come to terms with the fact that I am actually about to drink a beverage containing mostly mushroom and bird saliva, but what about the ACTUAL nest part. WHAT ABOUT THE POOP!? As far as nest processing goes, I read that nests are soaked and boiled, but honestly that doesn’t really quell my fear. Neither does the fact that I made a major mistake in looking up the Wonderfarm drink before I tried it, and was presented with this photo:

 

I really, really wasn’t expecting it to be all chunky like that, and now I. REALLY. DO. NOT. WANT. THAT. IN. MY. MOUTH.

But this is practically a scientific experiment and sometimes science yields uncomfortable results. So cheers… to science!

 

Oh my god. That was horrible.

The taste was at first not so bad, pretty sweet and thick-  I thought I had gotten off pretty easily… and then a simultaneously slimy  yet chunky texture rolled down my throat and I thought I might lose it right there in the middle of my living room. Pouring it into a clear jar for further inspection proved equally, if not moreso, horrifying. If you’ve ever handled egg whites than you’re familiar with the viscosity and mucus-y texture that got dumped into that glass while I swished water around in my mouth and tried not to think too hard about what I just drank.

 

Really consider what’s happening in this glass right now. Suffice to say, I still have no idea what a bird’s nest actually tastes like… but whatever. I gave it a go, because a little adventure here and there is good for you. Even if it almost makes you ralph on your oriental carpet. Now, when faced with a similar beverage at the Asian grocery, or weird drink aisle at Whole Foods, you may find that you’re content just admiring it’s weirdness. You’re welcome.

Trainwreck July: Sadness, Sunshine, Confusion, and One Really Weird Cake

31 Jul

Usually in western Washington people emerge bleary eyed at the first sign of summer and basically go apeshit with excitement. After being cooped up for the past 9 months, we break out our pasty legs, throw our responsibility out the window, and generally swim and day drink for as long as the weather allows until we are ushered, hungover and exhausted, back into our homes and onto our creative projects that the dismal atmosphere encourages.

It’s all just part of the routine, but this summer’s been a little different. When I left for the Grand Canyon trip, it was still dreary and wet, and when I came back ten days later, it was full force summer time. I was writing my mental list of activities I could now enjoy (oversize margaritas, hula hooping, oyster consumption on patios, etc.) when I found out that my dad has cancer. Suddenly nothing sounded very fun, and then the quarterlife crisis that had been on a gentle simmer on my mind’s back burner boiled over into a giant, starchy, hard to clean up mess. Then it went unnoticed and escalated into a full blown kitchen fire, but luckily a few key people have been routinely dousing that thing in baking soda, so it’s just a small, controlled  yet still alarming fire at the moment. Side note: Did you SEE that metaphor? They don’t teach those things in college. Oh, what, it’s kind of janky? GIVE ME A BREAK I’M SAD.

Three days after his prognosis it was his birthday, and even though he hadn’t felt like eating I forced him to consider what kind of cake I should make for him (since grief translates well into I-Love-You food). He chose a classic chocolate with buttercream, and I loved every moment of making it. Normally I don’t care that much for baking, but if it’s for my dad I’ll bake anything he asks for.

So then, two weeks after the news broke about my dad, it was suddenly my sister’s birthday and she had another cake request entirely. I’ll tell you it’s absolutely impossible to say no to my sister, who told me over the phone that

all I want is a train cake! 

And I’m like, wait, what? Ok…?

I like to bake cakes… but I’ve never tried to make one that looked like anything EXCEPT A CAKE, but since it was allllllll she waaaaaaanted, I decided to give it a whirl.

After watching this insanely misleading video  about how TOTALLY DOABLE and VERY, VERY EASY making a train cake is, I was all “Oh, I can definitely do that. I can do that so well ALREADY that I’m going to make it from scratch, too, and blow all these mom-commenters out of the water!” Said mom-commenters were all, “I couldn’t believe how fast and easy this cake was to make!” and “My three year-old just went cah-razy for it!!!!111!!!” Nevermind that my sister was turning 28, and there was no mention for train cakes appropriate for adults, but damn it, BETH WAS GONNA GET THAT CAKE.

Then off to the grocery store where I spent approximately 45 minutes assessing various candy shapes for the train decorations, carefully picking up and setting down every kind of geometric candy and weighing the importance of taste versus aesthetics when I finally bought it all and came home to make the damn thing. And holy mustard, I needed a bigger kitchen counter for a cake that required so many pans.

I probably shouldn’t have picked a recipe I’d never tried before, and I DEFINITELY shouldn’t have picked a recipe that called for 6 eggs. Failing to notice that is a big, red flag that I DON’T KNOW HOW TO BAKE WELL and obviously shouldn’t be left in charge with the task of assembling an engine and three trains cars with what turned out to be the flattest, stickiest, and richest cake I have ever produced in my life. Suffice to say, the cake was far too difficult to work with, and though I managed to carve some shapes that, when stacked and terribly frosted, approximated the general shape of an engine car, I did have to bite the bullet and buy a box mix for the rest of the cars.

Thus began the arduous process of frosting.  I seriously can’t believe how effortless that Betty Crocker video made it all look, because there was lots of swearing and definitely some crying during the creation of this cake. After watching the video about 6 times and  then attempting to replicate the results, I was left with some very serious questions:

1. After “crumb coating” the cakes you’re supposed to refrigerate them before your next frosting layer. Where are you supposed to find space in a normal functioning refrigerator for two cutting boards covered in precariously frosted cakes? Also, by this point I was finishing up the project at my parents’ house, and their fridge is always crammed with ten thousand condiments and every manner of leftover. Which is more important- curried chicken salad or smoked salmon? SOMETHING HAS TO MAKE ROOM FOR THE CAKES.

2. Ok, so I crumb coat the damn things and they are not ANY easier to frost the second time. In fact, they are even a little harder, as the fridge didn’t seem to help the frosting set at all, and now I’m just smearing gooey frosting on top of gooey frosting AND IT’S MAKING A DAMN MESS.  How are you supposed to keep the boxcars looking like, I dunno, rectangular!? Because by now the boxcars look like tiny, colorful footballs and I’m about to lose my shit for real.

3. After frosting the things and begrudgingly accepting the fact that they’re just gonna look like tiny, colorful footballs, I am forced to relocate the extremely fragile, sticky, cake crumbles onto a surface with a train track of piped frosting. In the video, the baker just reaches down with her bare hands and gingerly plops the cars onto the track with no resistance whatsoever from the frosting. Seriously, RIDDLE ME THAT. I carefully try to transfer the cakes with a flat spatula and not only to I maim the frosting even more, but I drop one on it’s side and totally ruin the train track frosting while simultaneously collapsing an entire boxcar. So, how on earth are you supposed to fix this? WHY, BETTY CROCKER, WHY?

It was about at this point that Beth came home and started squealing with delight about her train cake in the works, and I am covered in frosting and cake, bewildered at what potential she could possibly see on that terribly-piped train track, but I try to swallow my frustration because she looks excited, and dad is telling me that I’m doing a great job. Ha!

Anyway, I finally pulled my shit together and started plastering a bunch of candy to the thing in an effort to

a) Cover up as many failed frosting jobs as possible and

b) Distract people altogether

Which left me with one more question: Is this supposed to taste good? Because I know very few adults who enjoy eating an enormous pile of frosting and cake and candy all at once… so maybe THAT’S why this cake is typically relegated to the world of three year olds. I get it now. I tried to pick candies that would go with the lemony flavor of that scratch cake I used for the engine, but it was still a weird eating experience. Luckily Beth seemed to like it, and my brother is basically a hummingbird so he was pretty excited about frosting covered peachy rings.

So, she was happy. Good thing I love her so much because that entire thing was worth it and I’d do it again (though hopefully a bit better this time…) if she asked. It doesn’t even need to be her birthday.
This whole month has kinda felt like making the train cake. I’m upset, I cry a lot, everything’s pretty messy and weird looking. It’s been hard for me to care about food when I’m preoccupied with family stuff and I’m trying to grab at some form of control to make my life feel more manageable. I’ve missed it this past month though, and sometimes I forget that making food and talking about food brings me a lot of joy and energy. I’m pulling myself into a better state of mind this week, today, right now. I’m starting with this post. And then I’m going to make a big, delicious dinner for friends this evening, like old times.
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