Mmm. Starting this post has made me a bit more self-conscious than usual. As you know, I usually like to begin a post with some bit of cretinous irrelevance I've managed to salvage from my vague recollections of the day's thoughts.

Today, the first couple of things I had on my mind were censored by my generally crackerjack Friend Reading? filter: in other words, they failed the test "am I revealing some intimate detail about someone that one or more people who are probably reading this post are friends/acquaintances with?"

Which is a bit of a downer. Because when people ask me why I have a blog, one of my answers is "to document things that are happening." Yes, food, but also everything else to some degree. OK, not everything else: this blog is an extremely restricted and self-conscious view of what's happening to me, with careful hints scattered throughout for those who know any of the back stories currently in play.

So I don't know what I'm saying.


Things I meant to talk about today: Revolutionary Road; brownies; persimmons.



i stole the tv.

Before we do anything else? We should all seriously consider making caramelized white chocolate. Which the above is not a picture of, I know, I'm adventurous like that when it comes to photos and the proximity of their captions. Just read on, please...


Don't know why Jerri Blank's voice is in my head this morning, maybe because I've been acting like a boozer, a user, and a loser. Or maybe that's just what happens to everyone whenever they make their most successful pom to date.

Despite the hideousness of my flash photography above, I think I have tweaked my pom recipe into something like perfectitude. Changes this time included a butter increase, and decreasing the baking temperature during the last 30 minutes to 150C.
I also made pitjel (alternatively petjel and several other spellings) last night, and while it seemed like it was going to bore the pants off of everyone as I cooked it, it turned out to be delicious and I'll definitely make it again.

Here's a nice blog post about pitjel. It's basically blanched vegetables (green beans or long beans, cabbage, and bean sprouts) with a lightly spicy peanut sauce. My peanut sauce recipe was a bit of a disorganized improvisational mess, I'll need to take better notes next time, but I'll say that the key ingredients are galangal, tamarind, and ketjap manis: if you can work out the right balance between these three, you'll have figured out your peanut sauce.



he crab.

No, not me, the guy in the bowl. I'm making Surinamese crab soup for Monday's pom dinner. And, I'm taking pictures with the webcam built into Mara's laptop because I left my camera recharger in America, yes, because I'm that stupid.

Oh, right: vegetarianism on pause.

UPDATE: I was making crab soup, but my crab had ammonia problems. Dilemma: do I risk an incident with my local toko and bring them some of the ammonia crab? Probably not. They're not fishmongers, though they sell frozen fish. I've bought this crab there before and it was totally fine. The likelihood of them knowing about crabs and ammonia is small. Though they're very friendly, it's Saturday, their busiest day, and I can see how walking in and creating a stink about a stink might get out of hand. As I said: dilemma.


cassava soup with coconut and crab.


10 crabs
1 can of the highest-quality crab meat you can find
1 onion
2 celery stalks
400ml fish stock
2 Maggi bouillon block
2.5 liters water
2 bay leaves
8 pimiento berries
1 madame jeanette, skin unbroken
2 cassave
100gr zoutvlees (pickled beef)
100gr droge vis (dried, smoked fish)
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup celery leaves, chopped




We intercepted a dinner transmission from Planet KK last night, it was vegetarian in content and thoroughly worth receiving. More on this as soon as I locate my creative writing skills.


UPDATE: This post certainly turned into one of those "more later" scenarios where "more later" means "I guess this is our arrivederci point, bitches". 

Just so that I don't have this unwritten thing hanging over me: dinner at KK's was fresh as a summer's day: pictured above are deconstructed bloody marys (vodka-marinated tomatoes with black pepper and celery salt maybe?), hard-boiled eggs with homemade tarragon mayonnaise (yummy), and the Italian smoked mozzarella called scamorza that Miss Mara says she could eat every day (and I believe her).  Not pictured are several other things that I hope to picture very soon: a slambangitty good quince and pistachio trifle, for example, was a bowl of dreaminess...

Whew! One whole paragraph! Good thing I'm not getting paid for this.


For my own documentation, I made a perfectly good and easy soup tonight: one small organic pumpkin from the Dirk, roasted; one 400gr jar of cooked white beans, rinsed; 6 sage leaves, two bay leaves, an onion, and 6 cloves of garlic. And a liter of water. Roast the pumpkin, add it to a pot with everything else, cook for 30 minutes and puree.



small fry.

It may look like we're resorting to desperate (and non-vegetarian) measures in order to survive Vegetarian Month, but these were, eh...just a side dish? But really, moments of weakness aside, fried food just sounds right at the moment. Tonight's adventure may be a chicken-fried steak portobello mushroom (for more on this hallowed subject, check out Homesick Texan talking about chicken-fried steak).


To answer Agent Double K's question in more detail: by and large, Vegetarian Month is going well. I would say that we're not feeling deprived or craving anyone's flesh. We're definitely spending less money on groceries. We're regularly understanding that we're Doing Something Good in that no one dead showed up in our apartment for dinner, and that's a mood-lifter. Or if it's not a mood-lifter, at least we're not having that "sorry, little piggy" moment that we frequently have when meat is involved.



off the grid.

Tonight, gyoza, both steamed and fried. And I'm not going to lie to you, there were also a few fried shrimp with a chipotle mayonnaise. And later there will be pear caramel ice cream. And I'm still working on that fucking website I've been whining about: I'll be back to normal posting in a few days.


Oh, but there is one more thing for now: I'll give you 10 dollars if you can figure out who lives at marker A in the below Google Earth photo.


uramaki, imamaki, wereallamaki, etc.

Mara's first ever attempt at uramaki turned out to be exceedingly edible. And, as you can see, beautiful. These have avocado, cucumber, and carrot inside...



everything is just a few hundred clicks away.

Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard

Continuing the geekery, thanks to The Onion...


Also, I'm always forgetting that the BBC has a very useful vegetarian section on their site, probably because they have no RSS feed. I mean that's why I'm always forgetting about it.


And let's see, what else....oh yeah: I've decided to finally go ahead and kill my estranged biological father. 

Shamelessly arresting, I know. Now I don't really mean it in the literal sense (a phrase which in my mind I can only hear screwed, having listened to Paul Wall's Chick Magnet roughly 400 times). What I mean is that, in the 15 years since we last spoke, I've considered contacting him a number of times, only to eventually decide not to, or only to eventually just "forget" about it. And of course, my inner pessimist's reasoning is that, well, as soon as I decide that I actually want to talk to him and I finally make the effort to contact him, of course he'll die. 

This is not as completely and totally irrational as it sounds, because he hasn't lived an especially healthy life. As a multiple-bypass survivor, lifelong pack-a-day smoker, intravenous drug user, and I'm sure plenty of other things I don't know about, he has easily secured a place on my own personal "Endangered" list. The last time I talked to him, back in, say...1994, he had just quit his morphine habit and was "only" smoking weed and cigarettes. I wasn't too worried about him back then, but I was 25 and in my own hermetically-sealed alcoholic pod...I wasn't worried about much. 

But now, I have his current address and a blank greeting card that says "Cowgirl Power" on the outside of it (which I bought in America for my upstairs neighbor here in Amsterdam who underwent Surprise Brain Surgery over Xmas for an aneurysm, but I never sent the card b/c I would've gotten home before it did). So Monday I shall jot some pithy lines inside and drop my Cowgirl Death Missile into the nearest postbox and hope that it's a dud. It's all part of The Year of No Regrets initiative, don't you know.

Oh, did I mention? VDuck in 2009 might be even less about food than normal. 


parable of the bad programmer.

Crayon Physics Deluxe from Petri Purho on Vimeo.


Have you ever worked on a technical project that literally (well, literally enough) haunted your dreams? Where the client you were working for, though you got along with them well personally, had a completely different set of eyes than yours (literally, and figuratively), and it seemed that you could make no correct decision on your own?

A project from which you were so desperate to escape and get on with your life that, behind the scenes, you hacked together a borderline ridiculous and at least thoroughly inelegant solution to a sticky and terribly time-consuming problem, because: heck, you were never going to have to deal with that code ever again....this website would last them forever (hopefully literally).

And then, through some hideous alignment of circumstances, you find yourself not only working for the same person again, but having to reverse-engineer your own gross and undocumented code so you can figure out how to overextend it into an even more fragile state?

Oh...no? Huh. Uh, no...me neither.


Maybe a few moments with Crayon Physics Deluxe will calm both of us right down. Here are some examples of how (not) to play.

UPDATE: OK, it is possible to become too calm as a result of Crayon Physics Deluxe. For instance, I wouldn't recommend playing it before going to the gym, because all of your testosterone evaporates into a big hostile cloud that takes off down the hall to look for beer and women.

Now in order to re-engage with my primal wrath I'm having to read about the revisionist history at work in drafting Bush's legacy. Before long I'll be like a pill-popping cliche, seesawing wildly back and forth between mania and depression, desperate for equilibrium: Crayon Physics! Bush legacy! Crayon Physics! Bush legacy! etc. etc. etc.


Tonight? Sushi! Maybe. Today? Miso soup with tofu and leeks, because I forgot to eat before working out, and believe it or not, miso soup was the easiest/fastest vegetarian thing in the house to make. We didn't have any bread. It was good Emergency Food.



my actual birthday dinner.

After our amplifier hobocamp bonfire Tuesday night, we had a lovely commitmentless day (the last for a while) on Wednesday which revolved around coffee in bed and much general debrief. Oh, and planning a markedly less healthy dinner than the white bean and kale soup from Monday.

The much-more-explicit-than-usual recipe given below should be taken as an indicator of this dish's goodness. As I mention in the Comments for this post, Madeira was not my first choice for the boozy element in this cream sauce, but it's all we had, and it was delicious. But I do wonder if a pear brandy would've been overkill or the perfect ingredient.

Also, these lovely plates are one of my birthday presents, and yes, they are pear-colored, so OK, they either are or maybe are not the awesomest choice for this particular meal from a blogging perspective, but shit man, since when was eating about blogging? Answer me that.

OK, sometimes it is.


pear, gorgonzola and walnut ravioli with madeira cream and black pepper.


2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs

125gr ricotta
2 tbsp gorgonzola
1 Comice pear, peeled and diced
8 walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
75gr parmigiano-reggiano, finely grated

2 tbsp butter
2 shallots, minced
1/2 Comice pear, peeled and diced
1/3 cup Madeira
1/2 cup cream
a pinch of sea salt

freshly ground black pepper
grated parmigiano-reggiano


Make pasta dough.

To make the filling: mash the gorgonzola into the ricotta until everything is fully integrated. Mash the pear into the cheese mixture until combined, then add walnuts and parmesan, stirring to combine. You may want to resist the temptation to do this in a food processor: the pureed pear will make your filling almost too wet to use.

Fill the pasta.

Make the sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan and add the pear and shallots, turn to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes until pear and shallot are nicely browned, but not blackened or burnt. Your pear may disintegrate if too ripe, that's probably fine. Add Madeira and bring to a boil, let boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes until thickened. Salt to taste.

Cook pasta for 4 minutes, plate with sauce, a couple tablespoons of grated Parmesan and a few healthy grinds of black pepper.


To inject the tiniest bit of color and health into this meal there was this:

Oh, and because it seemed silly not to, we also made some squash ravioli with a browned version of this:

fetishize me.

Interesting gig last night. People who should've liked it didn't; people who shouldn't have, did. One critic suggested we were fetishizing our equipment (!), but it was really nothing more than our campfire formation, shown above.


Mara was in a bit of a cooking frenzy while I was in the states. Me being, well, in the states, I didn't get to taste too much of her work, but she made at least two wonderful things that I did get to taste:

One of them is a vegetarian Reuben that is fan-fucking-tastic. This is heresy, I know, but you really do not need the meat as long as you've got her Thousand Island dressing, the recipe for which is coming up soon. And yes, I just said Thousand Island dressing, blow me.

The other thing she made that I got to taste was white chocolate and coconut truffles, pictured below. Even better than Raffaello...but without the crunchy wafer.



peter peter.

This would be an awesome picture for a post about pumpkins, wouldn't it. I was supposed to buy a pumpkin yesterday so that we (two) too might find ourselves in a veritable pumpkin patch of taste, scent, sound, what am I talking about.

I did not buy a pumpkin. No, we're having a bit of a post-holiday pantry-clearing around here, and one of the first layabouts receiving a gentle but firm push into the fire was an open bag of white beans that's been Moth Bait for a dangerously long spell.

Beans. Is there a sexier 40th birthday meal? Hopefully you know not to answer that. But to be honest, there wasn't really much celebrating going on yesterday...that's been pushed out a couple weeks until there's some time to really savor it.

No, yesterday was pure productivity, and this meal was pure fuel: white beans, kale, tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, olive oil, and lots of Parmesan cheese. Served with a piece of buttered toast, a totally worthwhile winter meal. I still have leftover beans, though...so we may have to double up on our Fueling the Cloud Factory theme by making Brussels Sprouts with White Beans and Pecorino tonight. BOOM!!!


age ain't nothing but a number.

Yes, it's true. Welcome to Oldville. Yesterday, when I was still 39, I asked my trusty roommate Mara if she liked my new T-shirt, and she said something to the effect of, "It's fine, if you don't mind being a 40-year-old man with skulls on his T-shirt..."

And this coming from someone with a pretty "healthy" skeleton fixation herself. I do see her point, but it's not like I've adopted some new hideously impractical style of dress. I think it's pretty consistent with the VDuck dress code in many ways (black, one or more skulls on it, etc.), and therefore? Not indicative of any kind of Turning 40 Crisis.

Further, I would posit that that particular crisis began January 6, 2005 or thereabouts, and this whole finally actually being 40 thing brings a nice sense of closure to that (appropriately enough) black, black, black period in VDuck history.

You know, I think that my trusty roommate may have been "having me on", as they say, because she's also the person who told me age ain't nothing but a number, just like Aaliyah (also black) said.


On the food tip, yo: parsnips taste good. Like a spicy apple/carrot/potato. This is a picture of two parsnips and a cell phone, parsnips on the left. We will be eating more parsnips 'round here, mark my aged words.

And, here are some more cherrypicked vegetarian recipes from a mainstream cooking site, these are from the Food Network, the highlights being the Mario Batali and Gale Gand recipes...

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Spiced Pecans and Peach Butter
Gnocchi in the Style of Sorrento: Gnocchi all Sorrentina
Bleu Cheese Crostini With Sancerre Syrup And Peppery Lettuce
Steamed Asian Greens with Honey Soy Sesame Dressing
Sicilian-Style Cauliflower with Whole Wheat Pasta
Winter Squash Soup
Traditional New Mexico Red Chile Cheese "Stacked" Enchiladas
Cauliflower with Brown Butter
Cherries in Port over Ricotta
Pasta with Black Olive Sauce: Stringozzi Alle Olive
Spaghetti from Aquila: Spaghetti all'Aquilana
Roasted Root Vegetable Medley
Wide Noodles with Poppyseeds: Lasagne coi Semi
Sponge Cake with Pear Marmalade: Ciambella Pugliese
Smoked Gouda Cheese Grits with Black Bean Salsa
Chickpeas with Rocket and Sherry
Baked Carrots with Cumin, Thyme, Butter and Chardonnay
Buttermilk Sherbet with Spicy Peanut Brittle
Fennel with Bread Crumbs
Roulade of Potatoes and Escarole: Involtino di Patate e Escarole
Mallorredus with Fennel Seeds and Fresh Tomatoes
Drowned Cabbage: Verza Affogata
Sweet and Sour Pumpkin: Zucca Gialla in Agrodolce
Plum Preserves Mezza Luna



target in range.

This video is somehow related to vegetarianism, I'm sure. This is a robot called Big Dog. Turn down the sound on your computer before you play this b/c Big Dog makes a sound like a humongous housefly. But it's worth watching...there's an amazing jump at the end.


Tonight is a clean-out-the-fridge night, thus we have a bit of carbo-overload: whole-wheat spaghetti with gorgonzola and wilted bitter greens, plus a side of roasted parsnips. I've never made parsnips before, after peeling one I'd have to say they smell like a apple/carrot/potato. Let you know how they taste later on maybe.


Some cherrypicked but still borderline boring vegetarian targets from Epicurious:



big mama's hidden recipe.

My first night riding the vegetarian train, I made kimchi jigae but my version can barely be called a recipe. Cut 250gr tofu into bite-sized blocks and throw them in a pot, empty a roughly equivalent-sized jar of kimchi into the same pot, add a cup of water, 2 tbsp of soy sauce, a handful of chopped scallions and a tablespoon of shichimi togarashi. Heat and eat. 

I have no idea how the above video is supposed to be helpful.


Faaaaack. Still not back to regular sleeping schedule, going to bed at 11pm, up at 2am, awake til 6am, sleep til noon. I don't know whose schedule that is, but it sucks ass. Tonight's strategy is to stay up a little later. 


meet the meatless.

I'm experimenting with a new concept in 2009: it's based on finally doing some things you've been talking about doing so that you don't go on regretting not ever doing them. I don't think it's quite the same as what the NYT is talking about here. That is, these aren't resolutions, they're experiences. You know, seeing what it's like to not do something for a while. Hey, just like that whole fasting experiment from last year, remember? And that almost turned out just fine.

So one of the many things I've been thinking about doing for a while is playing around a bit more seriously with vegetarianism. So January (with the exception of one or two previously-planned meals outside the home) will be strictly vegetarian. No fish either.

Instead, there will probably be gougères. Or maybe just one big one. And that's in no way connected to the fact that another thing I should do this year is go to Paris.


Non-vegetarian events in December that had nothing to do with this decision included the 21-pound prime rib we had on Christmas Day (pictured above and below...the best way to get a perspective on its actual size is by looking at my dad's leg next to it in the above photo. The bottom photo is what it looked like after Christmas dinner), and the cookbook my dad gave me for Xmas, The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The book seems great so far, with a large introductory section on shopping ethically and the current state of organic farming...it'll just be a little while before I get to the recipes.

Another cookbook I acquired over the holidays was Culinaria's Italy (for 9.00 USD at Borders, apparently quite a steal). And then two Bittman books, only one of which made it home with me, oops. And I still didn't buy Cooking of Southwest France because I bought a new Mexican gangster chrome-plated Hawaiian steel guitar instead, and while I probably, no definitely could've rationalized the purchase of both to myself, well...as I said, I'm experimenting with what it's like to not do some things this year.



in the new year.

And so we wake to our second hangover-free New Year's Day in a row. What's our secret?

Be in bed before midnight. Flying from Phoenix to Amsterdam on New Year's Eve had another important selling point: a half-crowded plane, which meant that I could participate in that most potent of transatlantic flight survival strategies: laying down.

And while I nodded in and out of consciousness for 16 hours or so, Amsterdam was preparing for my arrival by freezing solid. Actually, I guess it had been this cold for several days before I was anywhere near an airport, but whatever: it's nice to see Amsterdammers on skates once again.


My "vacation" wasn't as much of a vacation as last year's visit, but of course it was half as long. The brevity meant that we found ourselves cramming things in at the last minute: deep and overdue conversations, nearly-overdue rented movies, and of course a visit to my Southwestern food mecca (this is my blue corn enchilada in red and green chile with smoked turkey and grilled mushrooms, great):

...some last minute-burgers on the grill...

...and some of the local beer oddities.