escape from which mountain?

We came, we saw, but this time instead of being conquered, we had a very serene and sober gig. No meat wistles, no boiling vodka, no 7,000 jointjes, no 2am start time. Somehow it was still fun. But next year...


My love affair with sriracha has been rekindled. We just saw too much of each other for a while there a few years back. But now I think we're ready to give it another go. Reminders for ways we might spend some time together abound here: grilled cheese, sriracha ketchup, of course sriracha mayo, ranch dressing, quesadillas, corn on the cob, sweet potato fries....


whistle down the wind.

How did I not know what a meat whistle was? Duh. I may have even said to the girl with the blowtorch, "What's a meat whistle?" She should have just gestured at mine with her still-lit blowtorch. AIIIEEEEEE! No wonder I have to beat them off with a stick. Girls with blowtorches, I mean, not meat whistles...that wouldn't work at all (in my experience).

Right. It's that time of year again. Except this year, we're not going to play at 2am, but 7pm. And this year I'm not going to have six shots of flaming hot vodka, I'm going to have precisely zero. I maaaaaaaaay smoke a bit of evergreen, but only if I myself have done the rolling. See you on the other side.




The cooking-as-therapy train went off the rails tonight: lentilburgers and fried catfish tacos. Frozen catfish (good clean stuff, too) is on sale for €1.99 for 600 grams, that's--what, $2.00 a pound? And we're still only three-quarters of the way through our €1.50 bag of lentils, after having made at least four meals from it...

Hey! I know what! I'll take this opportunity to document some of the thus-far-undocumented components of these Thoroughly Repeatable (and pretty darn cheap) breath destroyers. Yeah!


catfish tacos = fried catfish + chipotle slaw + pico de gallo + guacamole or salsa verde + fresh mint or cilantro + green or red fresh Holland or Spanish chile

lentilburgers = lentil patties + tahini-pomegranate sauce + saffron-yoghurt-mint sauce + cucumber salad a la maoz + lettuce + sriracha


tahini-pomegranate sauce.

1/2 cup tahini (well-stirred)
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
juice of one lemon
1 tbsp water
1 clove garlic, pressed
salt to taste (very important)

Directions to follow.

Serves 2 or 3 or 4.


cucumber salad a la maoz.

1 cucumber, thinly sliced in rounds
the juice of 2 lemons
2 to 3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
salt to taste

Combine well and let sit for an hour or so. Serves 2 or 3.


saffron, yoghurt, and mint sauce.

10-15 threads saffron
1-2 tbsp boiling water

1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Serves 4.

westerpark west.

I have an unenviably roomy capacity for forgetting how peace-inducing a walk in the park can be. A good park, I mean, somewhere big enough to where mopeds and streetsweepers and randomly screaming general sonic urbanity is all unhearable.

Well, in the Westerpark you can still hear trains quite often, very close by, but that's a sound I don't mind at all. In fact it may be one of my favorite things about Westerpark.

I also like the diversity of the place, there's a lot of different, whatchacallit, ecosystems? going on in this large (120 acres) but efficiently and appealingly arranged urban wilderness. Not to mention that it's an internationally-recognized example of reclaiming unusable industrial areas of the city center and transforming them into something radically more interesting and useful.

Back to peace-induction. For me to forget about it, the forgotten nature walk also has to be a good walk. Not just bringing a book and a bottle of wine and flopping down in the nearest available spot. That I remember to do all the time.

It doesn't always work out for everyone like this. This person did not find his or her time in the woods to be nearly as relaxing as I found mine:

Nature also does a good job of quietly reminding you that it doesn't care about your daily life stressors, and maybe you shouldn't either. At least not all the time. Any idea what this unfortunate half-body is? It's quite large, and this is only half of it. My initial quesses were: raccoon, possum (which I'm not even sure we have here), were-rabbit, cave cat, and rat-heron.



come clean.

It's up, it's down, it's not sure where it is, etc.


Actually, right now, it's in the kitchen, not having any idea at all what the fuck it wants for dinner. The general consensus (of two) is "comfort food". But what is summertime comfort food? Pizza? BBQ? It has to be something that makes you want to lie down afterwards and moan, preferably in front of the TV on a couch big enough for two. Tew.

UPDATE: We were sooooo responsible. Mara made PMS sandwiches (caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, and mayonnaise on your choice of bun), and I bought a pile of fake meat b/c it was on sale (Fake Meat Sale!). So, it was like a big unhealthy barbecue, except no one died from an animal perspective and it wasn't that unhealthy for humans either. Then we shared a single brownie for dessert (is that true?).


wrapping things up.

OK, I'm back, hopefully for a while.


what you see.

Something I've been wanting to try with socca is using it as a pizza base, and tonight I did just that. And it almost worked. The results were delicious, but the texture was kind of like a pizza-shaped cake. Or like the time Terrill opened up a can of asparagus and served it on a plate with crackers: what came out of the can was asparagus-shaped, but had the texture of shaving foam.

I think I didn't quite cook the base enough before I put my toppings on it (chorizo, mushrooms, tomato sauce, mozzarella). Next time, I cook the socca all the way through and then put the toppings on.

beach crazy.

It's only €5.50 round trip. How can I not go? As if this weren't enough, someone gave me a can of cassoulet. And three heads of smoked garlic. Plus? I finally "won" a game of Risk. Things are looking uppish.

These pictures are from Monday's visit to Zandvoort and an undereducated attempt to walk south to Katwijk. My mission failed, but I ended up on the extremely relaxing naaktstrand just south of Zandvoort. Great stuff: very few people (clothed or unclothed), zero kids, zero posing teens, zero screaming seagulls, zero everything except dunes and waves.


worm, caught.

Saturday I went to the beach at 7:30 am. To beat the crowds. It worked. Plus I had fried surimi for breakfast. Which was leagues better than it sounds.



Finally, some sleep that didn't involve howling cats or clattering scaffolding, and I must say it makes a difference. Mood up 26% today, to something like 53%.


Made socca for afternoon snack, and this same old recipe is still pretty perfect. Due to a lack of olive oil around here, a mixture of 5:1 sunflower oil to truffle oil was used, and almost everything about the results were better than usual (no sticking, great texture), especially when showered with some grated parmesan afterwards.


he was depress.

Haven't really mentioned this, nor have I gone back through the VDuck archives to check on how historically detectable this is from my summertime posts (actually, I just checked, it's mostly not, except for 2007), but...I have a problem with August.

A mental problem. No idea what it is, but for the last four or five Augusts, my mood has plummeted into a deep, dark, black blackness of blackitude that is always as untimely as it is confounding. It typically starts in July or thereabouts and lasts until mid-August or whenever I end up throwing in the towel. And then by the beginning of September I seem to manage to put it away for a while and get on with whatever it is I normally do.

So this is where we find ourselves at the moment. Though this year hasn't been one of the worst, today was one of the lower days thus far in this year's episode, and I was planning on trying some more beach therapy, but logistics slipped away from me and I ended up going on a pretty therapeutic bike ride instead, down the Amstel. On our way down there, Mara and I got caught up in a tiny swarm of mini-Maras (above). On my way back, I had to stop for reinforcements, including these musket balls of fried bakkeljauw.




This is just so I can jot this recipe down.

Tonight we made a very very good hybrid between veggie burgers and falafel, totally a keeper, and totally cheap. Roughly 40 cents' worth of brown lentils made enough for four people. The most expensive things were probably the fresh mint and dill.

Just like with burgers, the best thing about falafel is the fixins, so tonight we made a bunch of quick accoutrements: saffron-yogurt-mint sauce; a garlicky tahini-pomegranate molasses sauce; cucumbers with dill and lemon juice, and caramelized onions.


lentil fritters.


1 cup caramelized onions

3 cups cooked brown lentils (cooked until al dente, about 15 minutes)
1 cup whole wheat cracker crumbs/melba toasts
2 eggs
2 tbsp butter, softened, or oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
red pepper flakes

Mash lentils a bit with potato masher. Add cracker crumbs and spices, then add eggs. Adjust seasoning. Shape into patties or balls and fry in a bit of oil.

and the weathermen shrug their shoulders.

I went to the beach yesterday, an act that flew in the face of all meteorological data available to me. And, true, when I first got there, it looked like this:

Gray and cold. But I had patience on my side. And something else: about once an hour, one or more tractors would slowly chug by, pulling some kind of mood-brightening mobile kitchen, usually fish-related. From the one pictured above I scored some fried mussels.

And then by the next time this tractor came around, the weather had brightened considerably.

But I'd had my fill of tractor food. So I took myself a few meters away:

And then I ordered this:

Which is not bacon, but close. It's something I do quite often at home and I had to see how their version was: fried serrano ham. They served it with guacamole and mayonnaise, which could have been interesting, but the guac was out of a packet or something.

And then I enjoyed about three more hours of beautyeous sunshine before catching a train home. Stinking weathermen.



holy exploding corn kernels.

So, yes, I did make pozole this weekend, and I did learn a couple of things. Most notably, I learned that I may want to "de-head" this particular brand of posole before I make it the next time.

Notice I didn't say "behead". What we're talking about is this little brown semi-nipply nub on every kernel called the "pedicel". Which sounds not much like a head at all, but more like a foot thing, doesn't it. Regardless, here's the rub: some brands of posole have this semi-nipply nub removed, and this removal allows your kernels to "blossom", or "blow the fuck up", much earlier in the cooking process.

It's supposedly a strictly aesthetic thing, this blossoming, but I think there's more to it than that. I had to cook this batch of pozole for almost 6 hours before the kernels blossomed, and by then the texture of the individual kernels was a little too destroyed.

Another issue is that these particular kernels are big, very big. This is Peruvian posole, and it's much less dainty than the Rancho Gordo stuff we used so successfully the last few times. I ended up doing a chicken pozole, and frankly the shredded chicken didn't really stand up to these gargantuan kernels. It was good, but not great: I'm thinking that these guys need pork, big pieces of pork.

Just FYI.



keeping things whole.

You may have seen the poetry of Mark Strand on this site from time to time. I just found out something about this poem that I'm not going to tell you, because I liked it better when I didn't know.

OK, I'll tell you. He wrote it when he was 19. I liked it better when I thought the person speaking was older. Fascinating, no?



In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.



Note to self: refrigerated fruit is good. Grapes, melons, plums...buy some more.


As Summer's Hottest Day Thus Far (86°F/30°C) oozes its way to a close, I recline on my couch and take in the view.

Yes, that's scaffolding out there. They're painting our building this week, which is a good thing for sure, it needs it. And yet, as Bret Michaels once said, "every rose has its thorn." Thorniness here is being provided by the pre-painting step of scraping all of the layers of old paint off.

I am a man who likes abrasive sounds, but...


...wait, I think I'm having a barely relevant flashback.
The year: 1991. I was working at the Center for Music Research in Tallahassee, Florida, solely because I'd had the astoundingly good fortune to be in an airplane seat next to Dr. Newcomb (the founder of the CMR), who was working on the initial specification for HyTime, from which the HTML that you're viewing right now has borrowed quite a few tricks.

Regardless of the fact that I knew nothing about computers and couldn't type, Dr. Newcomb was such a good guy that he hired me as a "lab assistant" in the CMR, a decision which quite probably changed my life for All Time, because it was there that I first encountered a few things that would thoroughly alter the trajectory of my shit: aleatoric music, SGML, Microsoft Word (believe it or not)...

...and Flying Testicle. At the CMR I also met Al, who was getting into some odder music as well, and we spent a couple of years together trying to out-weird each other musically, which was great fun.

One day in 1992 Al came into the CMR lab, where I was probably hunched over a computer terminal, accidentally deleting instead of sending an email that I'd spent hours painstakingly typing (a nagging question...to who? Who else that I knew would've been on email in 1992?). Al's eyes were all aglow with an anticipation of imminent glory, the kind of anticipation you enjoy when you've found something that you know someone will love and you're about to give it to them.

In this case, "it" was Dry Lungs V, a gorgeously scary 2-CD compilation released on San Francisco's Subterranean Records. I'd never heard or seen anything like it. An excerpt:


And if you didn't enjoy that? The paint-scraping is 75x worse. As I said, I'm a man who likes abrasive sounds, but these painters are sick, a hellish trio of metal-on-glass chiseling and pounding that starts at 09:00 and lasts til 17:00. Durational. Where will I spend my Friday, he mused.



In preparation for September's week-long Berlin adventure (two interesting gigs with these guys, one of which is at some remote but provocative-looking venue pictured above, an hour outside of Berlin) here's part two of Gourmet's pretty lame Hallo Berlin! series, this installment covering currywurst. Which I tasted the last time I was in Berlin, and I must say, the city's 5am chicken shwarma joints left a vastly less delible impression. Currywurst is about half as good as things I do to sausage all the time. Go ahead and raise your eyebrows if you like.


As you may know, I haven't travelled much lately outside of some trips to the States. Some years ago, though, I used to be a fearsome-ass travel researcher, I don't know if this will be a surprise or not. I'm talking about weeks of poring over and cross-referencing a stack of variably reliable guide books, potentially countless man-hours of research that would ultimately culminate in the construction of nearly invisible, totally customized miniature maps, utilizing intricate folding techniques based on what time of day it was or what neighborhood we were in, etc.

Spy shit, basically. I think I'm all better now, but just tonight when I was briefly gripped by an impulse to do some "planning" for Berlin, I remembered that, well...much has changed. There are blogs now. Here's my starting point. This looks helpful as well.


cheap thoughts.

I may have mentioned the lack of greenery up in this bitch lately, it's having some interesting side effects. Not the least interesting of which is that, bulging with redundantly hopeful optimism, I actually clicked on the "Monetize" button in my Blogger Dashboard the other day to see if that was the solution to our financial distress. Alas, no.


Interesting side effects. For example. Ten years ago or so, I used to be what you might call a professional computer geek, during which time I became accustomed to having (at least one of, sometimes two or three of) just about the fastest and best laptop(s) that money could buy, replaced every 9-12 months with a faster and better one or two or three (weren't my money).

Somewhat naturally I think, when I left that job to become a pro bono web developer top secret music distributor ridiculous bohemian musician non-professional geek, I still thought I needed a serious laptop. I was a "power user", right?

A synonym for "power user" is "spoiled mutha". As my personal technoweenery recedes further and further into the gaping maw of Time, my old habits are dying. Instead of buying the biggest (figuratively speaking) laptop I can buy, I'm now looking for something that

1) works when it arrives at my house
2) won't break or otherwise disintegrate like the mostly shitty Dells I've owned so far this millennium (my most recent Precision M70 excepted...you were a really good computer, M70!)
3) is cheap

So when the M70 decided to put itself out to pasture this summer, I decided to experiment with the other end of the scale and go minimalist. In the photo above you see Mara's Acer Aspire 5720Z from last year, a normal-sized PC laptop (also remarkably inexpensive), and just below that, my new Aspire One D250 BTk, which is smaller than just about any of our cookbooks and weighs about as much as How to Cook Everything.

And? It cost €300 and does just about everything the €2000 M70 did by the end of its lifetime (minus the flickering screen and overheating). It runs XP, which is great for those of us who want their audio software to work, and it doesn't have a CD or DVD drive, which is interesting, but on the other hand....it's so tiny!!!

Is very nice, I am recommend.

But: am I ruining the global economy by spending less (don't answer that, it's a trick!!!)?


Last night I made enough chili to last us a week, which I never do. We both thought it was a good idea to have done so. Sorry about my sentences. Here's a brief note on proportions for Miss Mara's future reference:

500gr dried beans
enough water to cover by three inches
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp epazote
3 cloves garlic
1/2 onion

3 cans tomatoes
1 beer
3 anchos
1 chipotle
1 tbsp pimenton
2 tbsp chile molido (or double the amount of anchos)
3 tbsp cumin
4 cloves garlic
1-2 tsp roasted garlic paste
a healthy amount of black pepper

500gr beef?
2 red bell peppers
1 onion, chopped
butter for sauteeing


the lost weekend.

In truth, I don't remember what day of the week it was when I made this, but whenever it was, I lost the post about it. Double competent.

This was a 101 Cookbooks recipe, but it doesn't really work at the temp specified in the original recipe (medium-high): if you do that for 3-4 minutes per side, you will almost definitely unpleasantly blacken your tempeh due to the sugar in the marinade. At least if you're using my oven (and if you are, turn it off when you're done...ahahahahahah).

So, either saute it a bit slower and more carefully (but still make sure you get to The Magical Tempeh Brownness Point), or I might also think about leaving the sugar out of the marinade and glazing the tempeh at the end with it.


tempeh marinade.


3 tbsp corn or peanut oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp pureed chipotle + adobo from a can of chipotles, or more...1 tbsp gives a subtle burn

200gr tempeh

2 tbsp maple syrup


Combine first 4 ingredients, add tempeh, and marinate overnight. Pan-fry or saute for at least 4 minutes per side on medium-lowish heat. Drizzle with maple syrup at end of cooking time and stir to coat before removing from pan.