Saturday, September 24, 2011

my arms hurt. so naturally i'll cook a shoulder.

good, glorious afternoon my spicy dumplings. (don't inquire. i just felt like you might be dumplings tonight.) do you know why i'm excited? well i'll tell you: i'm no longer stuck living as a phone solicitor (hoorah!), i have new dish towels in distinctly autumnal colors, and most awesomely of all, i'm not playing hostess to heat and humidity anymore. that's right, i done kicked those jerks to the curb. ousted! banished! ...okay fine so perhaps mother nature and an unseasonably cool streak thanks to hurricane leftovers did it for me, but i don't really care. it's legally autumn, the air is crisp and decidedly less soggy, and i no longer have to write this basking in the wheezing chug of the window AC unit. hoorah!
eeee! autumn! autumn in towel form!

so as it stands, i am now wiling away my days in a pet store which sells no actual pets but does pride itself upon providing plenty of organic, wholesome, natural dog and cat food. it's a pretty sweet gig, i enjoy it so far, and i can't complain that in this sheisty, grapple-if-you-can economy i've managed to snag a job where i get to play with puppies all day when folks bring them in to get fitted for a collar or try a new treat. (hint: dogs love freeze-dried livers. you heard it here first. or not. whichever. shut up.)

anyhoo, one of the caveats of providing exceptional customer service when one wishes to switch their dog or cat to a grain-free diet and then outfit their housy habitat with better beds, maybe natural clay litter or possibly a drinking fountain to recycle the microbetacular water is the ability to lift. and i mean, like, a lot. like, stacks of 35-pound bags of dog food that stretch eight feet tall lurking in the back of the store just waiting for stocking and restacking and buckets of bulk litter that say they weigh 40 pounds but honestly pull on my every sinew like lugging one of nibbler's anti-matter poo piles. i am basically gaining more muscle than my plus-size frame is comfortable with, and i still have yet to master that whole 'lift with the knees' thing to a point wherein i'm not falling over like a scuttling crab in tap shoes when i try to replenish the shelves.

point being: after a month and a half-ish of carrying dog and cat food across the parking lot to many a waiting minivan, my arms and shoulders and back and lower back and all the things that involve muscle, bone, or general nerve endings are sore. i love dogs and cats, truly i do- but lately i've been having a torrid love affair with bed and a bottle of ibuprofen to the point where i think the pilot is a bit disconcerted with my unwillingness to get out of bed. so naturally, to make myself feel better on a blessed day off, i spent it in the kitchen making pulled pork because goshbedangit if there's one thing i love more than loafing, it's spicy sauce on delicious meat. plus it seemed kind of randomly cathartic to slow-cook a shoulder and know it wasn't mine. and seeing as it's now cool out and i can turn on my oven without fear of melting like so many wicked witches and/or dumbasses who open temples of doom, as a bonus i made this with no slow cooker. mostly this is so that those of us out there without crock pots can have delightful cool weather noms too. and so without further ado:

pulled pork sammiches with habanero-pineapple barbeque sauce

for the pig:
one bone-in pork shoulder roast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup broth (i use beef, but, to each his or her own)
3 cloves of garlic, cut into large slivers
hot sauce of your choosing
1 tsp each salt, pepper, chili powder
1 heavy pot, all-clad or simliar- or a crock pot if you're so lucky. if you lack either, use a regular roasting pan with some aluminum foil to cover it. if you lack all of those, then you'll probably just have to go buy your pulled pork cause really, i can only do so much!

alright. this is so easy, it's ridiculous. seriously. first, preheat your oven to 300 degrees and heat your pot on medium-high and add the olive oil. while that's all heating up, mix together the salt, pepper, and chili powder. you can use crushed red pepper or cayenne if you want, it doesn't really matter. point is, mix it together and then rub it over all sides of the pork shoulder. make like it needs a massage (i am writing this on pain killers after all) and rub it allll in the muscle so it gets teh flavors. then simply add it to the pot and braise it on all sides. use a heavy meat fork or thongs to turn it over and make sure all the sides are braised- it should take less than ten minutes overall.
mmmm...stabby pig shoulder.

remove the pot from heat and transfer the pork to a cutting board. now, if you have any aggression or wish you could get jabby with your neighbors or that jerk who shoved you on the street or your bank or the fact that professional athletes make more than anybody reading this ever will, take your trustiest kitchen knife and stab a good dozen or more holes in the pork. make sure they're deep holes, and then into each one stuff one or two of your slivered garlic. add the broth to the pot, put the pork back in it, and top it with a healthy splash of whatever hot sauce you wish. (i used frank's red hot and a little bit of red hot buffalo.) put the top on your pot and put it in the oven. now while that's starting to do its thing, go ahead and corral your ingredients for the barbeque sauce, because i promise it's even more delicious if you let it chill in the fridge for a couple hours.

for the habanero-pineapple barbeque that will kick your ass while stealing your stomach's heart:

there's no beer in this's just there
cause i'm a classy lady in the kitchen.
-2 tablespoons of butter
-a smallish to medium onion, or half a large one, finely chopped
-a cup of smushed pineapple with the juice
-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
-2 tablespoons white vinegar
-1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
-1 cup chili sauce (i prefer rooster sauce, but use what you want, obviously)
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-2 1/2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
-3 tablespoons lemon juice
-1 to 2 tablespoons mustard
-1/4 cup ketchup
-1 wee but powerful habanero pepper, chopped and seeded
-pepper and hot sauce to taste

pineapple makes everything better! except syphillis.
so it's like this: on medium heat, melt the butter and sautee the onion until it's translucent- ya know, like most recipes start. then add the garlic and the pineapple, and stir that goodness together. then add your chili sauce, vinegar, and brown sugar. cook until the brown sugar is melted and fully incorporated, and then mix in the worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and the ketchup and mustard. stir in the chopped habanero, and cook it together for a few minutes to make sure it's all incorporated. go ahead and taste it, and then adjust the seasonings to your liking- add however much pepper and hot sauce your little heart desires, and then bring that bad boy up to a boil.

warning: this *will* be spicy. and not, like, 'i'm wearing a
naughty nurse outfit' spicy, i mean possibly singeing your
tastebuds bc it is not fucking around spicy. mmmm :D
follow suit by promptly taking said bad boy off a boil and reducing it to a simmer instead. cook it on low, stirring every now and again, for about a half an hour. after it's good and cooked together, go ahead and either put it in a container for storage in the fridge bc if you give the flavors a couple hours to mingle it'll be even better, or if you're lazy and lack appropriate storage containers like myself, just let the pot cool enough on a back burner before transferring to the fridge.

now that you've got your barbeque sauce taken care of, i highly recommend immediately washing all the equipment you handled the habaneros on, including the cutting board, knife, and any bowls or plates it may have come into contact with- and for the love of all that is holy or not, wash your own damn hands because you really, *really* don't want to have to suddenly find out you wipe your eye too much by way of the burning of corneas. also? that was a really long sentence and for that i apologize. but only because it's national punctuation day and as an english major working in a field that has absolutely nothing to do with my degree, i care about the treatment of our language, even if i am living with a pilot who insists that 'alot' is a viable word. *headdesk*

pork pull: phase one.

pork pull: phase two. (...okay that sounds vaguely dirty.)

ooookay. so now it's probably been about an hour or so, and it's time to check on your pork. hasn't it been smelling lovely? if not, i'm sorry you don't have a nose, but how could i know? it's the internet, not a video phone. go ahead and lift the pot out of the oven (USE POTHOLDERS, OH MY LORD, PLEASE TAKE HEED) and check on the pulliness of the meat. it should look a little something like this picture on the right. it ought to be easy to pull from the whole, but not completely stringey and separated. go ahead and ladle a bit of the broth over top and add more hot sauce if you want, and put it back in the oven for another hour and a half to two hours. after that, a test piece should pull really easily from the rest of the pork, and it should be completely cooked through. you can cook it for longer if you're worried about dying from improperly cooked pig, but after 3 hours at 300 degrees, your shoulder should be thoroughly cooked and delicious. go ahead and pull the bone out of the shoulder (it should slide out really easily) and then take two forks and pull that shoulder into sammich materials like so:

make sure you pull it as much as can be, and try to take down any larger chunks. go ahead and just tear and pull with the forks; the garlic that was cooked with it should be completely smushable and mixed in with the meat, and i like to incorporate the broth it's been cooking in with the meat so it's extra juicy and all that. let it sit to the side for a bit so it cools down, and while that's going on and the barbeque sauce is still chilling in the fridge, go ahead and whip up some mashed potatoes. (i prefer skin-still-on smashed with sandwiches. i have no idea why.)

toast some buns, and then just heap some meat and barbeque sauce on top and you've got a derlicious meal fit for watching a football game and making sure you get really messy. ommmmm nom nom nom. and apologies ahead of time for how spicy this is, but really, it's got habaneros in it. can't say you weren't warned. and now without further ado, i'm going to go and loaf some more because the painkillers are re-kicking in and there's futurama to watch. coming soon: something new. hopefully.

Monday, August 1, 2011

my muffins imploded, but at least there's always pizza. (no, that's not suggestive.) (...i hope.)

ahoy there, my darjeelings! (...i know. i just said that. someone slap me with a mahi-mahi.) it's sunday night, and do you know what that means? drats, i was hoping you did, because my brain's rather muddled and i can't tell from one day to the next what anything is supposed to mean. blame it on the ever-present heat and the fact that i took a visit to the plasma donation fairy today and my low blood sugar means i'm loopy.

aaaaanyway, on this traditional breakfast-in-bed, movie-watching, general loafing day of wishing we didn't have to go work our jobs the next morning, i was going to go with a banana bread recipe based solely on the fact that my father is a hilarious creature and always called my mom's sunday banana cake 'banana roadkill coffee cake' and i wanted to post that here just to make somebody, somewhere giggle. buuuut unfortunately i lacked enough flour to make a loaf and went with muffins instead, which then decided to go all overlooked soufle on my ass and deflated in upon themselves before i could even get them out of the oven, so naturally they're not showing up. (the pilot decided they were tasty, and ate one out of the muffin pan with a fork. so, quasi-success?)

so instead, i've decided to do what i never do, and actually post what i said i would post next. i know, color yourselves shocked. (if there were a crayola color for that, i'm thinking it'd be somewhere in the rouge family. between 'burnt sienna' and 'barn red'- 'shocked!') and so instead of roadkill coffee cake, i present to you: pizza, courtesy of the pilot's month-long jaunt to visit italy last spring. he went scuba diving, saw mt vesuvius and vatican city, and even the original pizza restaurant that started the whole goshbedanged thing. so to mend the jealousy he knew he obviously caused to me toiling at my office job in the desert, he brought back with him limoncello and a recipe for the original italian pizza margherita. it's certainly not a complicated recipe, but that's it's greatest asset, if i do say so myself. it's a great basic dough and it works wonders for breadsticks and calzone shells too, and you can add all kinds of seasonings to the dough if you do so desire. (i almost always desire, but for the sake of simplicity, i kept the dough unchanged for this little blogtacular excursion.)

this recipe makes enough for one hugemongous pizza, two sheet-pan sized pizzas, or what we generally do, four personal-sized pizzas because we are unique individuals, or something. the original margherita has just three toppings- tomato, mozerella, and basil- and while you can do up said pizza with nearly anything you want, i do rather profess my love for the original because of its clean, summery, perfect taste. though i'm not above throwing everything from the deli case on there to give the pilot a case of the meat sweats (his words, not mine) and/or the entire contents of my veggie crisper if i feel like being healthy for whatever reason. in any event, if you start off with the basic ingredients and build from there, i'm telling you, this is a delicious pizza that you will either snarf up all on your own or offer up to your friends much to their accolades. (i actually once got a 'pizza master of the universe' when i brought this to a party. true story.) (did that make me sound full of myself? cause i swear i'm not. it belongs to italy, after all.) (i like parenthetical thoughts.) anywhatsofreakingever, i now present on this lazy sunday:

pizza margherita

for the dough, you'll need:
3 cups of flour
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 teaspoons quick-acting yeast
1 teaspoon salt
olive oil

for the basic toppings, get thee from the pantry:
4 to 5 roma tomatoes, depending upon how tomatoey you want your sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
a whole bunch of basil - at least 12 leaves, but more if you want
8 oz fresh mozerella - you can do non-fresh, but to be authentic, seriously, do yourself a flavor favor and grab one of those fresh in brine bits of mozz at the store. i promise.

(and clearly, if you want to make your pizza even more nomtacular and high-maintenance, then by all means gather whatever manner of pepperoni, sausage, bacon, alternate cheeses (permesan, bleu, feta, fontina, romano, whichever), and fruits n veggies (peppers, mushrooms, olives, sliced tomatoes, onions, pineapple) and really, just top these bad boys with whatever your heart desires.)

alright. so first things first, get the dough going so it can proof 'n poof while you're taking care of the other pizza components. into a large bowl, go ahead and add the flour, salt, and yeast. mix the dry ingredients together and then add the water slowly, about 1/3 cup at a time. it can take anywhere from just under a cup to a cup and a third, but usually i find 1 1/4 cups works just about right. mix it until it forms a cohesive ball of dough, and don't be afraid to get in there with your hands if you have to. (oh, don't whine. dough comes out from underneath fingernails.) when you've got it all mixed into a lumpy, sticky dough ball type thing, pour a bit of olive oil on top of said ball type thing and kind of smear it all over the bowl, so that your dough and bowl are both covered in oil. this will help flavor it and let it rise without sticking to the sides of the bowl. om om nom. cover the bowl with a damp towel (or whatever you've got- hell i have to do mine in a pasta pot and cover it with a dry towel because i'm awesome and poor) and let it rise in a warm spot- like on top of the fridge or in the (clearly turned off) oven or microwave- for an hour.

while that's happening, it's time to start prepping the other pizza ingredients. first things first, reduce your tomatoes for the sauce. go ahead and chop your roma tomatoes (you can use whatever kind of tomato you want, honestly, but i find romas are the tastiest and most authentic) and add them to a small pot that's on medium heat with the olive oil in it. sprinkle in the salt, and with a fork, start smushing, smashing, and generally taking out your aggressions on the tomatoes so that they reduce and turn into more of a sauce and less of a heap of tomato chunks. continue cooking them until you have what's basically a smooth sauce, though some tomatoey lumps are perfectly fine- it adds character, and all that. remove it from the heat cause you don't want that burning, obviously.

wash up the basil under running water, and then slice each leaf into two or three slivers. after that's taken care of, go ahead and prep your mozerella. i find it works best to chop four thick slices- one for each pizza- and then cut each of those slices into two thinner slices, and then those into thirds or quarters, so that you have between six and eight pieces of cheese for each pizza. if you're putting anything else on your pizza, this would be the ideal time to prep it. also, about 20 minutes before the dough is done proofing, go ahead and start preheating your oven. turn it up to at least 500 degrees, and if it goes higher, then by all means, fire it up.

alright. after an hour, go ahead and get your dough ready for some pizza action. you can turn it into one huge pizza if you've got the ability, or two big pan pizzas if you wish, but at casa del pilot n writer, we prefer to do ours up individually. your dough should have risen to at least twice it was when you originally kneaded it into delicious submission, and it'll be a bit poufy and squishy to the touch.

mmm. doooough. give in to the dough. it loves you.
*pilot edit* I love this pizza, its not quite like what I had in Italy but its still damn good pizza! *pilot edit*  ( apparently that's what happens when you're using your boyfriend's computer and he needs it and you leave blogger open for like, seriously, 2 seconds and he gets all up in your bloggity business. but at least he said it's good, right...?)

anyway, go ahead and prep your two baking sheets with a little bit of olive oil- not too much, because it does have a lower smoke point and you don't want *too* much burning and smoking action. and remember there's olive oil on the dough as well. so quarter your dough into four lumps of squishy yumminess, and put them on the lightly greased baking sheets. (if you're truly worried about smoking with the olive oil, you can use butter or a spray like pam. who am i to judge, i'm advocating throwing bacon and pineapple on an authentic pizza, so, clearly nothing is sacred and we're all going to culinary hell, where i bet they make you eat everything with sporks.)

this is really how much basil you want. no joke. it's so delicious
though, that you can't argue. true story. you can't. can't!
okay. now that you've got your four dough lumplings, spread them out by hand into roundish pizza type formations. you can lift it up and toss it like a showoff, but i've learned my lesson and i know that in a game of me v. gravity, gravity always wins. i prefer to spread it out on the sheet itself, but, to each his or her own. anyway, now that you've got your dough spread out into something resembling pizza shapes (sometimes mine come out square, sometimes they come out round- it's all about making the dough your bitch), make sure they're relatively even and there aren't too many lumps or holes. take the tomatoes you reduced earlier and give an equal portion to each pizza. spread that goodness around, and then top with an even smattering of the basil leaves. authentico yumminess!
but wait, there's more! clearly. because a pizza without cheese is a silly pizza indeed, and i say that as someone who shouldn't even eat cheese because of the late in life lactose intolerance that SUCKS SO BAD oh my good lord. go ahead and grab your cheese wedges and place them evenly on your pizzas, taking care to cover the majority of the basil leaves because you want the cheese to melt over them and protect them from drying up in the oven. (fun fact: i giggle when i say 'cheese wedges' because for the longest time when we were kids, my brother and i called them 'cheese wedgies' because we were weirdos. ah, youth.) (not a fun fact but a helpful hint: if you're going to put any spinach on your pizza, now is the time to do it, btw. make sure you get it under the cheese because just like the basil, you want to protect it from crispity crunchety oven dryness.) if you're putting anything else on your pizza, obviously now is the time to do so, and i will say that even on this recipe excursion i actually only let one pizza get away with being a true margherita, but that's not my fault because there was bacon and sausage and spinach and tomatoes and onions that were about to turn the corner and go bad if i didn't use them soon and more than being on the ground, bad grades, and country music, the pilot abhors wasting food. so there. i apologize for all these really long sentences, by the by.

and now, it be baking time, y'all. go ahead and, using oven mits obviously, install those baking sheets side by side on the top or middle rack of your preheated to at least 500 degrees oven. if you can crank it above that, go for it, but for the sake of argument and recipe, this is for around 500 degrees because some of us have to slum it with not as awesome ovens. le sigh. anyway, after seven to eight minutes, clad your handsies in some potholders and turn the baking sheets around so that the pizzas get some even rotation. let them cook another seven to eight minutes, and by now they should be smelling like a good pizza should, which is delicious. take a peek at them and if you see brown bubbles on bubbling cheese and that the crusts have turned goldenish to light brownish, congratulations, it's a pizza! go ahead and remove the trays from the oven and place them on top of the stove to rest for about five minutes, cause i warn you now, that ish is gonna be hot like lava.

nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom.
and now you have pizza! obviously the pictures of my finished products are not necessarily that amazing to look at, and clearly i took some liberties adding a ton of stuff that isn't part of the authentic pizza margherita club, but there's one down there in the corner that's relatively traditional so at least i'm not a *total* hypocrite. in any event, for the true experience, go ahead and put a little red pepper flake on a slice of your choosing (in italy, they call it 'multo picante'...and hearing the pilot say that never fails to make me giggle) and go to chow town.

see, i told you this was an uncomplicated recipe. would i lie? well sometimes i suppose i would, but not in this case, because this stuff is delicious and i wanted to share it with you because that's just the kind of generously awesome person i am. at least, i hope so. as i'm currently sitting here trying to bank on some good karma because the telemarketing job i have right now is sucking my soul out and i'm waiting to hear if i have a job offer or not from a place i'd reeeeally like to work at, i figure if by sharing the goodness of pizza i can put some positive energy out into the world, then by jove (who's jove?) i shall do it! or something. so, until next time, fingers crossed that i don't have to call people and annoy them for every much longer, and also that i might get a gig working with animals instead of automated dialers. until next time, my margheritas, enjoy the pizza and happy august. or something.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

pickly porkchops and heat-pickled people. (hint: one is a recipe and one is not.)

ooph. it is hot out there, y'all. or to swap dialects or levels of urgency, it's wicked hot out there, and it's a freakin' swamp in here. it's so effing hot that my toilet seat burned my ass, and yes the overshare was necessary because it's hotter than a pepper-black cat covered in tabasco sauce wearing jalapeno-skin kitten mittens on an impractical tin roof at high noon. i'm sweating from my eyelashes, you guys. and that's just not right.

so naturally i thought 'oh hey, i'll do a bit of grilling and pair it with some potato salad for a nice summer in the city type of dinner,' right? i applaud my own idiocy sometimes, because i definitely gathered the necessary ingredients for a thick-of-the-summer pork chop marinade and went ahead and whipped up a batch of my granwin's potato salad- all while forgetting that in our paltry spaghetti noodle budget, the pilot and i lack a grill and probably won't have the expendable cash to get one til it's winter and we're counting icicles on the eves above our fire escape because of course that's what we'll be doing, i mean, haven't you seen those bailey's commercials? no? nevermind.

anyway- point is, i may have suffered a bit to cook these damn chops, and sure they may not be pretty, but they are at least tasty, and at the very least, sort of improvised on my part. i'm a fan of throwing stuff to the tile to see what sticks, and thankfully the pilot generally approves my kitchen deviations or spots from afar where i'm about to go horribly awry- like a failboat spidey sense, if you will. on this afternoon, however, he was in a class that keeps him on campus until early evening, and i was left to my own devices. but to myself i thought, hell. i can whip up a marinade that doesn't totally fail without supervision. i mean for pete (or whoever's) sake, i moved my ass (and its wardrobe, various books and shoes, and all the other effects it and the rest of its being requires) across the country without incident --this included lugging a cat in a carrier on three separate flights and fighting for six hours at the columbus regional airport to get a rental car (more on that story another day- perhaps when i'm sharing a recipe for something that takes six tries to succeed with)-- so surely i can craft a marinade of my own design and macguyver a way to grill some freakin chops in a kitchen that is, to say the least, eensy weensy schmeensy teensy, right?  (also? longest sentence ever. please accept my apologies.)

this would be my kitchen. no, really. that's the entire gosh-
bedanged thing. note the oh, what, 1 1/2 feet of counter space?
so  from hereon out, marvel at my ingenuity. marvel!
outcome: yes, yes i can. unfortunate lesson learned: when broiling things, it's best to save it for when you're, uh, not living in an un-airconditioned apartment in the middle of hades' summerfest of hellsweat featuring the heatstroke experience. a box fan is an awesome companion if you're into doing that whole 'luke, i am your faaaatherrrrr' thing when you're bored, but it's not the best way to cool down a kitchen with the broiler whirring full-tilt. but i recognize that if is my plight, i may as well suck it up and tell myself i'm doing culinary bikram, right? ...i tried for about three minutes just now to come up with a joke about my flexibility but i couldn't concoct one that didn't sound dirty and for all i know my mother is reading this, so, no dice on that particular tangent.

in any event, so, yeah. the midwest is boiling like the potatoes that make up the salad i'm about to divulge (and i'm not actually even sure i'm supposed to, being that it's a family recipe- but it's so perfect for summer and easy to make that i'd be remiss not to, and yes, i just love to use the word remiss and sound pretentious, what can i say). but hot as it may be, eat we must, and hence, i present pickly basil and garlic porkchops with ssssssssssssecret family potato salad. (extra s's for dramatic emphasisssss. yay!)

pickly basil and garlic porkchops
(this recipe cooks for two, so if you've got more mouths than i'm feeding, obviously multiply to your pantry's content)

you will need:
2 medium porkchops
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (or lime, take your pick really.)
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup pickle brine (i promise. trust me.)(for the record, i use clausen. straight from the jar, i'll drink that stuff. what?)
2 cloves of garlic, minced/smashed/cut up into pieces of garlicy goodness
3-5 basil leaves, chopped (you can do more or less, i just love a lot of basil in summer. if a cannibal ate summer, it would request basil for garnish.) (that made no sense. i know.)
a dash of pepper (or however many you want)

this is super easy, i promise. basically, mix all the ingredients except for the pork chops together in a bowl, and then slather it over your chops. make sure to massage some of the basil and garlic into the meat to get some uber delicious flavor action going on, and, after covering, put that bad boy in the fridge for a couple hours- or overnight if you want.

mmm. raw naked meat action. i know it's why you
tuned in, right?

if you have a grill, i'm really jealous of you and assume you already know how to grill a chop. if you are pan frying, fry 'em up over medium-high heat for about five minutes on each side, looking for crispy doneness, and use your tongs to feel for that satisfying cooked-through, won't-be-getting-trichinosis feeling. they should spring back a bit, but not squish too much. if you have a meat thermometer, make sure they read at least 150 degrees in the middle. and lastly, if you're an unlucky wench like me, preheat your broiler for about ten minutes, and put the chops on a broiler pan and let them sizzle near the back of the heating element for seven to eight minutes. look to make sure some fat is rendering and turning crispy and brown, and flip those bad boys over. let them broil for another six or seven minutes, and test for donenness like the above instructions for pan-frying. in any event, make sure the thickest part of the chop reads at least 150 degrees. if you've got any picky, panicky eaters like the pilot in my house, by all means cook it to 160 or 170 so they won't complain of pinkness and impending death by pig flank. (also, i'm going to go out on a limb here and say picky panicky pinkness of pig flank is going to be my band name if i ever decide to butcher people's ears for a living. i feel like it'd be an alt-rock fusion rockabilly bluegrass outfit with some electronica elements, no? okay maybe not.) and on that note...

om-nom-nom potato salad

6 white or red-skin potatoes
3 hard-boiled eggs
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
6 scallions/green onions, finely chopped bc they're totally copying the celery, those bitches.
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 to 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 to 2 tablespoons mustard
1/2 teaspoon pepper
dash of salt

standard procedure: in a pot with about three inches of water, boil the potatoes, fully skinned, for about 20 minutes until they're soft when you get all medeival and stab them with a fork. (i know they didn't technically have forks in medeival times, shut up.) while they're boiling, go ahead and hard-boil the eggs if you don't already have some on hand.

mini-recipe! if you've never learned the fine art of hardboiling eggs, have no fear. if i can do it, anybody can. hence: put your eggs in a small pot, fill it with just enough water to cover the eggs, and set to boiling. as soon as you get some roiling boiling madness, turn it down to simmer and keep covered for 15 minutes. after that point, take them off the heat and let them sit for a few minutes, and then transfer to the freezer or fridge to cool before peeling. also, if you have newer eggs, they might be more obnoxious to peel bc the shells are all clingey like that, so you can throw a tablespoon or so of vinegar into your water to help alleviate the i-don't-wanna-peel-itis that new eggs are oft so fond of.

(this is what you don't want. i'll be the first to admit i'm
tragically human. don't ignore your potatoes, or they'll
suck up all the water and get a little burninated. oops.)
so while all this boiling is taking up the stove's attention, go ahead and chop the celery and the green onions. also, in a small bowl, mix up the mayo, mustard, salt and pepper. you can adjust all those ingredients to your heart's content, but i find my favorite is about 1 1/4 cups mayo, 2 tablespoons of mustard, and a couple dashes of pepper and a teensy bit of salt.) once your potatoes and eggs are boiled, your greens are chopped, and your sauce is mixed, it's time for the assembly.

mmm. ingredients.

skin the potatoes, which, okay- i know what you're thinking, because yeah, they just came out of some boiling water and they're kind of hot. true story. but keeping the skin on traps all the heat in and allows for a better boiled consistency, and also, something about how you can't argue with tradition, or something. i like to cut across both hemispheres of the potato so i have four quadrants, and then peel the skins that way. it's a bit faster and you risk fewer burned fingertips that way. in any event, once you've got the potatoes peeled, go ahead and chop them up into bite-size pieces and throw them into a big bowl or pot, whichever you've got handy. sprinkle them with the three tablespoons of vinegar, and mix in the celery, green onions, and chopped hard-boiled eggs. on top of that, spoon the mayo and mustard mixture, and mix gently with a big spoon or spatula until everything is evenly covered in deliciousness. cover it with whatever you've got (in my kitchen it's usually a plate, because i lack saran wrap or aluminum foil) and refrigerate for four to six hours to let all the flavors mingle like a frat/sorority mixer.

okay, not the most attractive picture- but it is dinner, and
it's tasty. i promise!

et voila. i'd say make the potato salad first, and once that's done and chilling in the fridge, whip up the marinade and let the chops start resting in their acidic, garlic, basil bath of deliciousness. you can make this stuff the day before, or you can make it the afternoon of the day you want to please your tummy with summer fare- but regardless of when you make it, just make sure you have a good beer and an air conditioner with which to enjoy it. though if you don't, rest assured that you're at least probably not sweating into your corneas and burning your ass in the commode. and that, my friends, is probably worth all the potato salad in the world.

up next time: the original pizza of italy, and tales of being a telemarketer who interrupts your dinner but she totally doesn't mean it but she has to bc it's the only job she could get in this godforsaken town after applying for approximately 200 jobs in over a month. or not, but until then, that's the projected verbal menu. and also until then, goodnight, my gentle omelettes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

thoughts upon whisking and waltzing my way into the blog-o-sphere

...cause that's what they call it these days, right? the blogosphere? as if i needed to be reassured of my ramblings' complete and total invalidity, knowing they are nary a blip on the radar in a writing universe that sounds like the illegitimate lovechild of weblogs and a particularly slutty hemisphere is awesome if not confounding. in any event, here i am- paltry kitchen, grocery list, and itchy trigger- i mean, uh, typing- finger at the ready. shall we then? let's shall.

first things first: hi. i'm a grade-a dork, an english major who loathes shakespeare (and capitalization) and someone who absolutely adores cooking but apparently lacks the innate skills required to come up with anything ultra fabulous. i've just relocated from tucson, arizona to columbus, ohio with my boyfriend whom we'll call the pilot.  he's the brains of this outfit, as he's an engineering major, a private pilot, and a culinary ninja. okay not because he's perpetually stalking me in our closet-sized kitchen with a katana, but more because he has a flawless track record of finding one ingredient off the beaten path to add to whatever dish i've been concocting for two hours, and magically outdoes my every culinary effort in five seconds. we have a cat named harry potter, so i'll just call him the wizard and say that he loves tuna, he wishes our entire apartment were made of tuna, and tuna yellowfin blackfin tuna yum yum tuna catnip meow mix tuna tuna. (his words, not mine.)

second things coming secondly: i'm not going to pretend this 'ere blog is anything awesome or new. according to nothing at all scientific, it's not groundbreaking or revolutionary, whimsical or hysterical or anything that might wind up in between cutsie curleycue hardcovers of its own food network book someday. nay, this is but my rambling collection of thoughts, recipes, musings whilst drenched in sweat in my small central ohio apartment (that is devoid of air conditioning while it's 99 degrees out and 100% humidity), and of course the occasional vignette or at least what i consider choice anecdote from whatever slice of life i may be pondering- moving cross country, living overseas, school, my friends in DC, whatever it may be- rather randomly coupled with pictures, playlists inspired by recipes or stories, and a bit of my bitch verve. i know, right? alongside proving that not all english majors can construct concise sentences and should not be allowed to write just anywhere, i also just totally sold you on becoming a regular reader, didn't i? oh let's not tarry, that whole self-confidence thing is for winners, and i missed the class due to something that's less hilarious that the excuse i'll inevitably make up. so there's that.

aaaaanyhoo, i suppose the basic crux of this blogthing is this: the pilot and i are navigating the twists and turns of living in a city neither of us have ventured to before, we're doing so on a budget so strapped that a shoestring looks buff, and we're doing it with nod to karma and a tip of the cap to luck and chance. we have no idea which end is up, no idea where the next few months, years or however long it may be will take us, and i'm inviting you into our home, kitchen and lives in gereral just for the hell of it. so sit back (or forwards or roundabout, i care not- hell, jump on a pogo stick and read this on your smart phone if you can wrangle it) and enjoy the ride- or lack thereof. this is a tale of cooking, flying, writing, financial gymnastics and paving our way in the country's 15th largest city with nothing but our fingers crossed.

coming up soon in the tales 'n recipes department: pizza margherita, some butterscotchy items to fondly remember my grandfather who went to school here in columbus, and meditations on taking the city's public transportation. as my downstairs neighbor put it, 'you meat the creme de la crop on the bus.' oh lawds. y'all have no idea. until then, drink a cold one for me. cause it's hot, you see.