My cousin Jewy (short for Juliana) made this drawing for me b/c I wasn't at dinner the other night in Atlanta. It's Animal, or Aminal, but you knew that. It's an appropriate reference for her, her demeanor is generally slightly less restrained than Animal's.
I said I wouldn't be making anything noteworthy over the next couple of days, and that's true, and because that's true I'm making something noteworthy tonight: soto ayam. I'm still trying to find stimulating ways to inject more turmeric into my life, and it's hard to imagine one better suited for me than this.
As much of an Indonesian soup as this is, it's also been completely adopted by the Surinamese kitchen, though their version leaves out several critical things, among them the turmeric. So I'm doing kind of a hybrid of a hybrid. Recipe eventually.
UPDATE: It's a very unusual soup. You make a chicken broth that smells totally kick-ass (yes I said that, it's 1987) via kaffir lime leaves and turmeric and chicken (I added 400gr carrots and an onion), and when it's finished you make a strangely ground-spice-centric (cumin, coriander, black pepper) spice paste (+ ginger, garlic, galangal, turmeric) which you fry and then add to the soup and cook for 10 more minutes to blend flavors.
So you're putting this potentially grainy paste into a cooked soup...I can't think of another soup recipe that does that. By the end, it tastes pretty great, but the texture is a bit....yeah, unexpected. It's a bit like mulligatawny soup, which I've never made, I wonder if the prep is similar. I think I like it. We'll see how it is tomorrow. It sure is yellow.
FURTHER UPDATE: It just needed some time to sit, it's great now.
Hi there. Took a couple days off b/c, yeah, I'd been blogging a lot and a break seemed prudent. Also I got tired of thinking about my diet, if you can believe that. So I just ate fish and kohlrabi and nuts for a couple days. You didn't miss anything.
One of the worst things about the post-drinking, not-smoking time is the swwweeeeeeeetttt ttttooootttthhhh. It's bad. Chocolate becomes way more significant than normal.
I came up with an unorthodox solution though: I bought some chocolate that is so intensely bad that it literally makes you not crave chocolate anymore. The ingredients are: Ecuadorian cacao, banana fructose, cacao nibs, cocoa butter, and non-GMO lechitin. I love chocolate and banana together under most circumstances, so this looked very promising. Plus: it's totally fair trade! All locally produced in Ecuador by local people. On the back it emphatically proclaims: "Fair prices and empowerment for farmers!"
It tastes like.....space chocolate. Chocolate you might be forced to eat in space because normal foods don't work up there. Or like if someone made an especially delicious piece of blackboard chalk, delicious compared to regular blackboard chalk. Everything is wrong with this. Bad.
Except: it does cure your chocolate craving, nearly permanently. I bought a bar 3 days ago and there are still 4 squares of it left, and I no longer have any desire at all for chocolate. Mission accomplished, I guess.
In other Unsatisfactory Purchases news, today after my desperately-needed haircut, I stopped by the Wednesday Haarlemmerplein market and bought these from a newish butcher there:
I know I said I was off the pork, but...circumstances conspired to put me in the wrong place at the wrong time. I bought two truffle sausages and two "lavender/ginger" sausages because, well doesn't that sound adventurous?
There's a reason that not everyone is making lavender/ginger sausages. Inappropriateness. Like biting a pork-flavored air freshener. The truffle ones were OK, truffley, but kind of unimpressively so. Neither deserved to tie the shoes of those pikante merguez I had last week from the Moroccan guy on our street. And these were 4 times as expensive. Bogus.
Pikante Merguez is a pretty good name for a racehorse, or for my North African noir alter ego.
Speaking of circumstances and conspiracies, last night I found myself on the Zeedijk with time to kill and a rumbly tummy. I thought: hey, why don't you check out one of those places that you've wanted to try up here but that if you tried them on a date and they sucked you'd be really angry?
So I did, I went to China Si Chuan Kitchen on the Warmoestraat. And.....it was totally satisfying. I feel safe in saying it's the most Sichuanish place in Chinatown, if not the only one. Very few Cantonese dishes, almost everything Sichuan. I had, eh...the Sichuan duck in onion sauce: very thinly sliced duck with lots of julienned onions, ginger, peppers, and carrots. Really good and surprisingly light (possibly explained by the fact that I'm not much of a white rice eater).
Looks like it would be easy to order something that was swimming in chili oil, so if that's not your thing you may want to stick to the dry-fried dishes. Service was very sweet and efficient and it's a cute room. I'd go back in a second. Not cheap, but nothing on the Zeedijk really is except for Kam Yin. Go here instead though. My Chinese "friend" Xue says it's very authentic, and completely comparable to Sichuan restaurants in China. I say "friend" because she's one of those FB friends that you don't really know very well. I met her like 3 times 5 years ago. Like that. Anyway.
OK, that's all for now. I'm probably not going to be cooking much of interest over the next couple days, need to reconnect with my studying. Took another 70-question practice test yesterday morning and got a 90% (yay!) but I was doing way too much guessing. I don't want to have to guess at all.
I had an entertaining/sobering discussion about the test with my hair guy Alex and we agreed: there are certain kinds of immigrants who will be totally fucked by this test. If you haven't been to a university and don't know how to study, or are someone who is kind of "kept at home"...yeah, no dice. But I guess maybe that's the point.
OK, so yeah, I took a blurry picture of the Cafe Americain fountain last night. So what??? You're just jealous!!!
I must warn "you": this is one of those boring-ass posts I promised. But I need to do it, this is how I retrace my steps to figure out what worked. I mean, yes, unfortunately, this usually only happens after things have stopped working and I need to start over, but...let's see if it can be different this time.
Another good night of sleep, 6 hours. Same deal, sleep enhancers consumed at 9pm, yawning by 11:30. I've always avoided taking them that early because, yeah...I was afraid they'd wear off before morning, leaving me awake at the dreaded 3:30am timeslot, from which there is rarely a productive escape route. But, fingers crossed, new schedule (and new meds, mostly passionflower) seems promising.
Also, I walked 8km or so yesterday, I'm sure that didn't hurt. It was one of those nights where, of course, three interesting gigs were happening at roughly the same time, but it would've been possible to see all of 1 and then some of 2 and 3, they were all located with 10 minutes of each other. Apparently though I'm still not quite ready for sober socializing though; only made it through the first one (90 minutes!) before realizing that home was the best place for me.
VDuck plans for the week: study. Exercise. Keep not doing poisonous things. Try cocoa nibs. Figure out if buddha amacha is healthy, and if so, how? It's made from hydrangea, which is toxic. I desperately need something sweet that's not sugary, if that makes any sense. Maybe I can brainwash my tongue.
This free-form shopping list is starting to remind me of something. I've had mole on my mind for a while, probably since I started messing with turkey. I should do that. I finally bought some bakkeljauw, I'll probably see if I can manage to not fuck that up. I need better breakfast foods. I need to get grapefruit back in my life. I need vegetables. And I guess Cheap Dirk Fish. And some kind of socializing beverage that isn't terrible for you. I could make this more Adaptation-esque if I wanted to spend an hour or two on it. But what would that really accomplish? Why can't I just be myself? Maybe I am being myself. All I'm hearing is Nicholas Cage's voice when I'm writing this. I should stop.
I've been eating a bit of turkey lately. As kind of a pork substitute, for ethical reasons. I'm pretty sure I'm working my way towards vegetarianism, ultimately I think. Or at least pescetarianism or whatever the fuck you want to call the diet where you only eat seafood b/c they're more alien-seeming and less cuddly than land mammals.
So in that spirit, and as you may know I'm refining the do's and don'ts of my 2012 eating policies: I think one of the limitations I'm going to institute for 2012 is: only eat land animals that I wouldn't mind killing with my bare hands.
All birds definitely fit in this category. Cats occasionally do. I think that's pretty much it in the meat department. I don't have any aggressive or hateful feelings towards non-avian mammals. The occasional bromfietser maybe, but that's a whole nother kettle of fish innit.
One of my favorite things about finally building a Dutch vocabulary is when I see a new word and spend some time trying to figure out what it means by looking at its parts. I'm taking a practice test and just came across the word blindedarm for the first time. I kind of have to know what it is b/c the subject of the question has to do with how long a person will be out of work due to an operation.
But what the fuck is your phantom intestine? Dummy intestine. It kept seeming like utter gibberish, I was wondering if I was missing something. Now that I know what it is it makes (kind of) perfect sense: appendix.
Holy shit! Actual sleep last night. Like 6.5 hours. I feel like a king today. Possible secrets? Take two passionflower and 0.8mg melatonin at 9:25pm. Oh yeah, and get like 4 hours of sleep a night for 5 days previously. ahahahahahaha. And no naps. In any case, I was yawning by 11pm and out by 12:30. Fucking faaaantastic.
One of the episodes of Intervention I watched yesterday featured a very pathetic girl who would overmedicate herself via her chronic pain pills and just kind of habitually pass out on the floor of her sad suburban apartment. Family members would come by to pick her up for, say, her sister's baby shower, and she'd be unconscious on the kitchen floor, in her sweatpants, surrounded by broken glass and the food that she'd been trying to eat when she suddenly became "extra sleepy".
In preparing for her actual intervention the doctor tried to explain to the family that, even though they (the family) were horrified by this practice...he reminded them that "she is suffering. She's in pain, and doesn't want to live like that, so of course she doesn't mind being loaded. So 8 hours a night unconscious on the kitchen floor, as bizarre as it seems to you...this is comfort for her, this is the only time she feels comfortable."
My point is that my takeaway from this was....jealousy. Eight hours a night?
Good god, I'm in some kind of very unexciting time warp. It feels like days since I've posted. Something is afoot.
Perhaps it's the intense cleanliness of my mind and spirit. I am a whirring and clanking productivity machine, or at least I am a twitching bundle of energy. Or nerves. I quit smoking 6 days ago, and drinking, and eating gluten, and yeah, sleeping. I'm also not eating mmm, carbohydrates really anymore. And not much sugar. I think about food quite a bit. I'm not even sure what you call this diet other than DOOMSDAY REHAB (cue strobe, bluish fog).
Studying continues. Some things are annoyingly complicated to memorize, lots and lots of acronyms. But in the department of Weeding Out Religious Fundamentalists Things I Already Know And Therefore Do Not Have to Memorize, there's this actual sample test question (translated by me):
35. A new colleague asks if you can help him with something. You know that he is homosexual. What do you do?
a) you go to the boss and ask to be transferred to another department b) you tell your colleague that you are opposed to same-sex marriage c) you explain to your colleague as thoroughly as possible what it is he needs to know
Ended up reading a little about this paleo shit, but haven't got to the part where they explain how a caveman diet is a good idea when cavemen only lived until they were 33 or so.
Whatever, if it gets people to eat less processed food I guess it's a good thing. I think doing without salt and sugar for a while (which the diet advocates) would also be a reality-shifting experience if you could manage to do it for say 3 months or so and then go back to normal 21st century eating. Imagine your first Dorito. Your mind would explode. Or one of Hilly's brownies. Goodbye Earth.
Back at VDuck HQ, the kitchen is suffused with the intoxicating aroma of failure. Multiple failures. First, I thought I'd make a Surinamese version of an escabeche since I've been loving them so much lately, and since I can eat all the onions I want cause I'm not leaving the house, and since they're on the DR diet, and since, and since, etc. No such thing in Suriname, but a little research revealed that Jamaica is pretty much the only Scotch Bonnet-y culture to have its own version, and it's called escovitch. Great. Irie.
Only thing I didn't notice is that escovitch is served hot, not cold. I made one, and...turns out there's a reason you can't think of a cold dish that uses Scotch Bonnets: it's just not quite right. I mean it was OK. I'm eating it. But I wouldn't serve it I don't think. I'll probably try it again though, cos frankly I didn't have all the ingredients, and cos it seems like it should work, and oh yeah: b-cuz I'm STOOPIT (also, I found a better-looking recipe, here, one that says it can be served cold).
Second failure: sayur lodeh. I just should've realized that I don't ever really love this anyway when Indonesian people make it. It was...bleeeccch. And the cabbage really fucked up my stomach. I ended up drinking some of the broth and just eating a piece of turmeric by itself. Boooooo.
The best thing I've eaten all week other than those pancakes has been back on Tuesday or something, four slimline pikante merguez sausages from the very nice Moroccan butcher across the street on top of a pile of sauteed spinach with a spoonful of yoghurt on top. If I could eat that every day I would.
Photo credit: Me, but it's a picture of someone else's picture in James Oseland's Cradle of Flavor.
While I'm being all healthy and shit, I thought I'd stain my fingers and many other things a vivid tangerine color via Mr. Indelible Rhizome hisself. I bought some today*: our 45-second-away toko has fresh turmeric in their freezer, so I have no excuse, and I should really start using it more often.
Thus I'm going to make a turmeric-heavy sayur lodeh I think, unless I find something with an even more sinister Eastern European gangster-sounding name.
*LANGUAGE NOTE/HILARIOUS ASIDE: Here in Nederland, there are some herbs and seasonings that are sold via both their common Dutch names and the Dutchification of their original Indonesian names.
For example. The Dutch word koriander (coriander/cilantro) is ketoembar in Dutchified Indonesian (ketumbar in Indonesian). Komijn (cumin) is djinten. Citroengras (lemongrass) is sereh. Gember (ginger) is djahe. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Roun' here you see the Dutch names a whole lot more often, and frankly that's OK cause the Indonesian names are (at least to my multilingually-challenged mind) unrememberable.
Case in point. The Dutch word for turmeric is kurkuma. The Indonesian is koenjit. There is also something called kentjoer, which, while it looks very much like fresh turmeric when it's in a little frozen container way in the back of a friendly Hindustani's freezer....it is not turmeric. No, it's a variety of galangal whose primary distinguishing feature is that it looks exactly like turmeric when it's in someone's freezer.
The point of this endlessly diverting aside: I did not in fact buy a bunch of turmeric/koenjit today. I bought two different kinds of galangal, or.....yes, kentjoer. Cue the violins.
I just killed about 19 birds with one stone, a pancake-shaped, gluten-free wondrous stone of flax and almond flour. This is by no means a perfected recipe, but it was deeply satisfying and met all of my other requirements too.
But I must warn you: don't go all thinking you're going to make these for brunch or something without trying them yourself beforehand (or, if you do think you're going to do that, please make Elana's recipe instead, below). They're not like regular pancakes. On my first and only try so far, the texture was, mmm....Not exactly mushy, but floppy? Like you couldn't throw one of these, frisbee-like, across the room and have it retain its shape like you can with normal pancakes (sometimes you even come across a pancake that retains its shape so thoroughly that you can pick it up again and whizz it back at the person who threw it at you first).
But these, ze taste. Is good. And they's healthy. And what are you doing throwing pancakes around the room anyway, you fucking infant.
The original concept came from Elana, but someone in the Comments section over there suggested using ground flaxseed and water as an egg replacement, and my little eyes suddenly filled with the pancake equivalent of dollar signs. You know what I mean. Pancake cartoons.
Any any way. This recipe makes a lot of pancakes so scale appropriately: Or: I was only one person so maybe it just seemed like it would've been a lot. Whatever, I did a third of it and it made like three big silver dollar pancakes. WTF, I don't know what I'm talking about. Use your best judgement.
almond-flax silver dollar pancakes.
3 tbsp flaxseed
9 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp honey
1 + 1/2 cups almond flour
¼ tsp salt
(¼ tsp baking soda) I didn't use this
2-3 tbsp yoghurt (I used Greek)
as much cinnamon as seems prudent for your tastes, I could also imagine cardamom working here, or well, shit, let's just use the whole spice rack
butter or coconut oil for cooking
Many people who made this recipe on Elana's site said that it burned very quickly, I did not have that problem at all, but then again I was not using eggs, I was using "eggs". Real quick, to make the "eggs", combine the flaxseed and hot water and process until the seeds are broken down. These are your "eggs".
(UPDATE: I made another batch, and totally burned them. Be careful.)
Combine the 1 tbsp water, the honey, and vanilla in a bowl. Add the processed flaxseed, the almond flour, salt, and cinnamon and/or cardamom, and stir to make a batter. Add yoghurt until batter is, ehhh....like a thick pancake batter I guess. Mine was very thick, not pourable. But the final product tasted good texture-wise.
Heat fat in non-stick pan, drop large tablespoons of batter in pan and fry 2 minutes per side or so. Top with a syrup of your choosing. I chose maple. Boink.
Ahh....Dutch. In order to properly play Dutch Scrabble you'd need a board the size of a fucking swimming pool.
The title of this post is the word for liability insurance.
Above is a diagram that attempts to explain the Dutch education system. I'm taking my exam for permanent residence in a couple weeks. It's kind of shit that 75% of the questions are going to be about things I've never done or had any plans to do here: buy a house and have a mortgage; join a labor union; become a doctor or hairdresser or veterinarian's assistant; have kids and raise them (which the sample tests make sound like the most complicated thing on earth); apply for unemployment benefits; apply for child care benefits; join a temporary agency; request a permit for a satellite dish; request permission to expand the toolshed in my yard; sell goods on the street; apply for financial aid.........
etc etc etc.
I don't even have any friends with kids. I don't know anyone who belongs to a labor union. I think I know one person with a mortgage.
It's true there are things I'm learning that I should've known long ago. For example, when Easter is (the Sunday after the first full moon in the spring). And because I never knew when Easter was, I was always surprised when Hemelvaart (The Ascension) came along (40 days after Easter, always on a Thursday), and even more surprised when there was another two-day holiday 10 days later (Pinksteren, Pentecost, The Feast of the Holy Ghost).
I mean and yes I should've known when the Afsluitdijk was built (1932), and how long it is (32km), and what the engineer's name was who thought of it (Cornelis Lely).
And how the government works. What the national anthem is called and who it's supposed to be about. Where the queen is when she reveals the budget for the coming year and what the name of the golden coach she rides in is (well actually, it's called "The Golden Coach", but...but...but did you know that it's not real gold? It's Javanese teak. I'm going to be SUPER FUCKING INTERESTING after I know all this shit).
But elsewhere in Nederland, other foreigners who do have kids and satellite dishes and permits to sell things on the street are frantically trying to memorize other facets of Dutch society, ones that I already know.
Some of the sample questions are so obviously not targeted at excluding my particular ethnicity/race ("are children allowed to choose their own marriage partner?"..."should men and women be treated in the same manner?") that, yes, I know if I took it right now I would be very close to passing it. I'll just feel better if my chances of failure are much, much closer to 0%.
Ect ect ect. So I'm kind of cramming.
What am I saying, I'm really cramming. I only get one chance to take it, it's in 20 days.
Above: huh, I did in fact take a photo of the surprisingly good Szechuan peppercorn/chili oil tofu pancakes last Friday assembled by the lovely and talented KK(don't worry, this is not a photo of eating them: this is preparing them, they have yet to be fried at this point). The fridge still smells like kimchi by the way, which I guess could be a good thing, but yeah it's not.
So, OK, that took a little longer than I wanted, but shit is done. There's really something perverse about the amount of pleasure I get from not doing "my job", but some of that fucking-off time was spent procuring tyrosine-rich foodstuffs for lunch: steak, avocado, green salsa. Chocolate with almond butter for dessert.
INTERESTING UPDATE: 7 hours later, I feel about 1000% better mentally than I did this morning. Tyrosine, or psychic coincidence?
Things are getting a little scientific around here, and I apologize, but I'm just trying to make some better sense of everything. I'm going to retreat back to not-so-much-blogging tomorrow, because I've gots other fishes to fry yo and because blogging is part of my obsessive problem, yes, thank you, I know.
But in terms of self-education for non-studying times, there's this, and then I haven't really looked at it extensively, but this Seth Roberts-esque self-research blog has what seems to be a very relevant article on retraining your limbic brain.
And apparently there's a non-chemical-based cure for insomnia. Most believeable sentence: "One of the immediate benefits that patients note is the reduction of “anticipatory anxiety” — the time and concern spent worrying about what the night will bring. Many insomniacs see their bedroom as a prison or place of dread."
Totally true, my bed at night is a tOOOtal fucking place of dread, unless there's a squawking mooperbird in it. But then she has to be awake, otherwise it's back to the squawkless fucking dread.
So, sleepless or not, this is one of the few days so far that I have started out as intended, by doing all of the things normal people do at the beginning of the day: make the bed, take a shower, straighten up, etc. It has a certain appeal, I can see that even through my insomniac coma.
Thusly engorged with success, I'm going to now try what for me has become one of the hardest things there is: do one uninterrupted hour of efficient work without stopping to press my completely worn-out dopamine button via any of the tiny distractions that normally end up derailing me. OK here I go wish me luck.
OK, I did have this one important consideration that needed considering, and I'm wondering how helpful this would be, considering this.
And can someone get to the bottom of the current state of research on THC/dopamine interaction? Opinions seem to vary widely, but as far as I can tell any interaction seems to be related to behavior/limbic reward rather than actual cannabinoid/neurotransmitter shit.
I really don't want to waste any more time thinking about the unexpected 6 hours I spent troubleshooting our new DSL modem this morning/afternoon. I'll hopefully think of something better to waste my time with here after a bit of productivity.
I'm not sure that I really accomplished that. I did do a bunch of studying, though. And now I'm watching some incredibly poisonous TV that is somehow the first thing that's made me feel better in days. I was doing other things while they were on, but I semi-watched Millionaire Matchmaker and Hardcore Pawn. And of course I saw previews for 6 other "documentary/reality" shows....holy fuck. I hadn't realized just how pervasive and powerful America's love of gawking at mean, sad, mediocrity had become, I guess myself included.
And then I thought about making these but they required about three times as much work as I wanted to do, so I just had an egg with a little maple syrup and salt, which worked out just fine.
Progress report: DJ gig successful; tofu pancakes way better than I imagined; everything else still proving a bit problematic.
Tonight: some kind of kimchi chicken thing, haven't worked out the details. Though I don't imagine there are too many details to work out: kimchi, chicken, sesame oil, scallions, maybe an extra blast of ginger, my head is congested all of the sudden.
UPDATE: In reality, this chicken ended up being pretty dynamite b/c I found this last bit of red dragon sauce, so imagine: all of the above ingredients, plus cilantro, plus this red dragon sauce. Goooooood.
Day Six? OK, how does this work again, blogging and recipe hunting without the internet? Oh yeah it doesn't, I guess that's the point. But what about my fucking herring?
You may address me as Petulant Knob. I must say, I've started this day out right: two cups of Earl Grey and Momofuku's steak with kimchi and ginger scallion sauce (one benefit of not planning to see another human today is the ability to destroy one's breath first thing in the morning). Breakfast of champeens. Now I go look for that herring for 5 minutes, hear me? FIVE MINUTES. OK, ten.
(57 minutes later)
OK, I did some other work stuff too! And rescued a piece of dental floss that Jo3n was trying to swallow. And I spent some time generally de-ruffling some kitty feathers. In between, I found a nice little old-school page of pretty accurate-looking Swedish things (actual recipe text: "Clean head and singe off hair. Cut off ears and clean teeth with stiff brush. Remove brain." I should reaaaally stop eating meat), including my "spicy pickled herring" I was looking for. Unfortunately the recipe is for 40 herring filets: I have 5 (no problem, divide by 8, I know, I know, but what's 1/8 of a tablespoon?).
I found something else that kind of describes it, the ingredients are: herring, brown sugar, red onion, orange peel, vinegar, allspice, cinnamon, clove, black cumin (which may actually be caraway...the cumin/caraway confusion is rampant in Scandinavia).
This also looked good to me. Now I unplug router. See you later!
4 small smoked herring
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp butter
handful of chives, minced
Clean and fillet herring. Chop finely and mix with eggs and butter. Season with salt and pepper and form mixture into small balls. Fry golden brown in butter and garnish with chopped chives.
Hmph. Today's my first day of trying to strictly limit my computer time, and I must say...it kind of sucks. I should say "internet time" instead of "computer time", b/c really, a computer with no internet is pretty much a workstation. Tomorrow I'm taking the hardcore step of unplugging my router after an hour of work at breakfast.
It's just that, OK, let's say I'm making music. I record on a laptop, b/c it's stupid not to. However, as soon as I get an idea that requires something not on my machine, or I have a technical problem that I want to check the forums for, etc....I'm back on the net. So tomorrow I pretend there's no net.
I'm like a fucking five year old.
A five year old who loves herring!!!
Maybe love is a bit strong, but I do really like it in most forms. One of my favorite forms, however, is this Swedish shit I had this summer, marinated in cloves and allspice and vinegar and a little sugar. For the briefest moment today I had a fantasy of going to Ikea to get some, and then I realized that this is not really the kind of productivity I had in mind.
So when I feel like I deserve some more computer time I'll find a recipe.
Not me, my cooking. My continuing love of all things seafood and pickled, uh...continued some more tonight, I took one of those tricky bags of Cheap Dirk Fish (Alaskan salmon this time) and turned it into an escabeche with cider vinegar, nice olive oil, green olives, red onions, and capers. This is really the perfect preparation for such a strong-tasting fish because the flavors are so darn feisty...you'd never guess that this fish costs something like 3 euros a pound. This is a new staple, it'd probably be great with a dash of ouzo or pastis or something anise-y.
And then I had a failure with those dang kale chips. I think my oven was too hot and I wasn't lavish enough with the olive oil rub beforehand: my chips we a little too brown at the edges and not really cooked enough at the center of the stem. And they were kind of dry....blecch. Luckily 300gr of kale only costs 0.96 euros, so yeah it's OK Mark. I think I'll ask the Staatsliedenbuurt Crispy Kale Queen if she'll give me a lesson this week.
So, backup dinner is necessary, hmmmmmmmm.....
Turned out being a green apple and Hirtenkäse (the cheap version we get is very much like feta but melts much easier) quesadilla. Granny Smith apples are once again proving to be my favorite snack food, you really feel like you're eating something, as stupid as that sounds.
Speaking of addictive personalities...geez, Whitney. You shoulda done did a Doomsday Rehab like the Duck!
No trouble at this mill, comparatively speaking. I didn't realize that this was something English people said, and I'm just trying it out. According to Urban Dictionary, it means "the shit has hit the fan", which, come to think of it, is a colloquialism I should really examine the origins of.
In the Self-Soothing Department: I tried making some millet, and....it took me a long time to find some other tastes that it really seemed to go well with. I mean, it doesn't really have a pronounced flavor of its own other than a certain seedy bitterness (very slight). It was edible with some Thai curry paste but not really good. Mexican flavors were also fine, but not good. The first thing that really seemed to make sense was a little butter and sugar: then suddenly it was a perfect replacement for breakfast semolina. I don't know, I guess I should look at some Chinese and African preparations for inspiration.
Hey I also have not yet mentioned: Mara is in America for a month. I couldn't say anything before now b/c she was surprising her parents, but now the baby has popped out of the cake and everyone in Atlanta is very very pleased.
On Monday I start an experimental regimen, one that's designed to corral some of my historically uncorrallable tendencies. You may or may not know this, but I have what people and Wikipedia call an addictive personality. It's something that I've known about for a long time, but it wasn't always the annoying/monstrous problem it has become, I guess because the things I got addicted to at first (reading, playing guitar, researching, working) had mostly functional and positive side effects (this is called foreshadowing).
At some point, or over a long period of time, this changed, I guess mostly in the last 5 or 6 years, probably in conjunction with our closing of our record shop, because I no longer had to "be somewhere" every day. So things gradually got worse. And by now I'm at the point where my problem is not only claustrophobically, profoundly frustrating, but undeniably severely detrimental to most areas of my health as well.
So! I figure that if the world is going to end in a few months, it would be nice by then to have at least figured out some small ways to understand/manage/control myself so that I'm not the kind of used-up, tattered thing of a person I was as of last week. You know, so I'm in decent shape when I have to fight off the apocalypse zombies that will eventually try to lurch their way into our (nonexistent) storm cellar.
So that's what all this is about. OK! Nice work everyone...thanks for sharing. See you tomorrow, it's Day Four I think.
Hey, maybe I forgot to tell you guys!!! There's going to be some boring, boring-ass posts coming up. Here's an example:
Saturday night. Alone, sober, straight, and....calm. Possibly even happy, and if not happy, then at least peaceful. I felt very good all day even though I didn't really do anything to tax my resources. I just did some recording, and now I'm about to watch the one TV show that I actually wait for and sometimes consider basing plans around b/c I don't have a way to record TV. The Good Wife. There, I said it. Maybe I'll make some popcorn.
I don't know what I imagined. I thought I vaguely remembered lots and lots of wonderful and healthy non-wheat-based grains and snack products at the Natuurwinkel, but I guess that's because I wasn't actually shopping for them at the time.
In reality: from a grain perspective, there's quinoa, rice, buckwheat, amaranth, and millet. I'm still quinoa-shy from a couple of stomachaches a couple years ago; rice I find nutritionally suspicious; amaranth I generally find to have a gross and alien texture. That leaves buckwheat and millet, both of which I bought, along with kale, almond butter, and a couple other things for normal eating.
I also bought some "just in case" foods. For example, what happens if I start panicking about never having a marginally-edible goo-filled chocolate cupcake ever again? How will I know if these things exist in a gluten-free world? I had to test one of the snack products to see just how disappointed I would be at this future emergency date (see above and bottom).
Below: again, more emergency supplies.
Now, this. Not exactly bad. I give it a 4 out of 10, which goes up to a 6.5/10 if you only eat the gooey center and throw the rest away, as I eventually did. In any case, this is obviously not a "regular" snack: it's just as unhealthy as any other highly-processed thing, nutritionless and hydrogenated, it's just that the grains in question here are corn and rice flours.
Conclusion: not really worth eating.
UPDATE: Emergency noodles also tasted (buckwheat/sweet potato). They cook in 4 minutes, had them with scallions, furikake, sriracha, and a pat of butter. Everything's going to be just fine.
Why hello there. Part of the problem with casually blogging this kind of "life correction" is that these first few days are largely transitional and not very interesting, especially if I'm not disabled by the shame of cumulative failure and thus desperate to sort my head out via writing.
If, like now for example, I'm in a good (dare i say "healthy"?) frame of mind, well....there's just not much to say because I don't want to go digging around in there if everything's kind of OK, you know, "there" (points at head).
Still, there's food to talk about I guess, as always. I realized last night that I must solve this problem of "needing bread texture." One of the not-so-secret secrets to my incredible weight gain over the past 6 months has been lots of bready and crackery things. How does one satisfyingly snack without this gluten-y chewy-crunchy toothsomeness? Without resorting to potato chips and corn bread I mean. It's a good question. Popcorn is a provocative suggestion but I fear for my teeth. This is the most promising possibility but it means I have to learn to bake.
Discipline, my boy, that's going to be your snack food from now on. Clandestine nibbles of self-control. Yummy.
Nonetheless, a brother does have to eat something, doesn't he? I am now about to be forcing myself to go outside and go to the Natuurwinkel (which it hasn't actually been called in years, but they were changing the name so often for a while I just stopped learning the new names) to look for non-gluten noodles (brown rice? buckwheat?) and fuck if I can think of any fruit or vegetable I'm truly interested in but I've got to find something. Maybe I'll buy a head of kale and finally try that roasted kale chip thing.
Can you at least feign some enthusiasm, brother? Come on.
Once or twice a year I consider writing about something different in this space, something more real, or real in a very different way than this is usually real, and I'm having that feeling again right now. I assume it's that there's something I really need to "write my way through" at the moment, and I've almost always learned something from reading other people's attempts at doing this.
It'll be an experiment and it'll hopefully start very soon.
There's still dinner to think about, as always. All I've had today is a couple morsels of chicken and some almonds and some tea. I need to get to the store but I've been procrastinating for hours about taking a shower and putting on clothes (possibly one of the "areas for improvement" we'll talk about soon)...I finally got the shower done a few minutes ago, and...yes, ok, it was a very good idea that should've been looked at sooner.
The next step will hopefully bring me to the store and then we'll have something extraordinary for dinner. Or, you know, something.
I've written about it before here, but in case you don't hang on my every word: when I was little I had celiac disease. At some point it "went away" and I was able to eat like a "normal person".
Fast forward to now: after a year or twenty of unhealthy living, I am starting to notice that I don't feel 100% awesome. There are many obvious reasons for this.
But last year was more toxic than most, and right now I feel the need to tweak some of my inputs to see what if any difference they have on my output. And for a number of reasons, I'm a trifle suspicious that my body isn't handling gluten all that well any more.
So, I'm trying some time without it. At least a month. This means, among other things, no beer, which is simultaneously tragic and awesome, more on this additional challenge later.
Unsurprisingly, I will need some fun things to cook. In this space will be some suggestions from ze gluten-free community. Soonish.
This totally looks like something boring you'd see on one of those "special diet" websites, but it's what I had for breakfast today and it's actually super tasty and I will be making it again very soon.
sweet potato + greens.
4 big handfuls of fresh spinach, or possibly kale
1 clove garlic, minced, 2 cloves if you don't have social/romantic plans
1 tbsp EVOO
1 sweet potato, cubed small
1 red onion, chopped
1 pinch ground cumin
1 pinch garam masala
2 tbsp EVOO
salt and pepper to taste
Do the spinach/kale and garlic as if you're sauteeing greens and garlic for a sandwich or something. Remove them and set aside. Saute the rest of the ingredients on medium-low heat until the sweet potato is done. Then add the spinach/garlic mixture back in and season to taste.
OK, so one last blast of alcohol and gluten and socialismizing before a period of thoughtful and rejuvenative asceticism. File under Menu Planning, please.
mussels in escabeche. crostini of endive (witlof)/onion/balsamic compote with warm goat cheese.
seared scallops with pomegranate reduction and beurre blanc; arugula salad with pomegranate-balsamic vinaigrette.
codpiece time capsule: MSC cod with cajun spices; corn/scallion/red pepper relish; calvados/crayfish cream; roasted garlic mash (here).
grand marnier souffle with maple infusion.
bundled up collabradoodle friends biking 20 minutes home in the relentless Siberian frost.
belgian endive compote.
2 Belgian endives, julienned
2 biggish onions, sliced thin
2 to 4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter over low heat in saucepan. Add endive and onion, caramelize for 30 minutes over lowest heat possible, flipping pile over every 5-10 minutes. When almost all liquid is gone, add balsamic and sugar, continue to caramelize for 10-15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, chop compote into whatever form factor you need, or maybe you could have done this at the beginning if you'd known what you were going to be using it for.
This is bokking: smoked herring that's been fried, basically the same thing as what the British would call a kipper. Fried. It's very cheap, €1.35 per piece like the one above, and if you like herring, or sardines, or any omega-rich healthy small fish, this is worth looking at.
I got mine from Viscenter Volendam on the Kinkerstraat, which I find to be a pretty fair and interesting fishmonger with the broadest selection of both prepared and raw seafood on my side of town. They could be slightly better about carrying and/or letting you know which fish are MSC(responsibly fished), but for example this bokking was advertised as "MSC bokking".
I'm filing this under "Amsterdam Eating" because for me a trip to Viscenter Volendam would be and always has been an interesting and informative lunch that is very Dutch and not touristy at all. And probably less than 4 euro per person whether you get a fried something or a sandwich. Plus you're right at Ten Katemarkt (general market needs) and Suriya Food (decent Surinamese sandwiches) and a couple of new Turkish bakeries with good-looking lunch options (a few doors east of Viscenter Volendam). And there's a newish bar over there that I like called Bax (Ten Katestraat 119).
Here in the Netherlands and maybe other countries, I don't know, they sell handy bags of de-shelled cooked mussels in the freezer, cheaply, less than 3 euros per pound. I never quite understood what these could be useful for until tonight. This was a José Andrés recipe (from the book I never cooked) but I went completely bachelorstyle on it and destroyed its technical integrity in the interest of speed and convenience. And it's something I'm now going to make all the time.
mussels in escabeche.
500gr cooked mussel flesh from the freezer (so, no shells)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 big garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 tsp orange zest
3 tbsp orange juice
1/2 tbsp pimentón
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
You could probably do something smarter and/or safer given these ingredients, but here's what I did: I opened a bag of still-frozen mussels, threw them in a covered pot with two big glugs of olive oil then let them cook/steam for 10 minutes or so. This was apparently enough to defrost them, hopefully in a way that doesn't result in my imminent death.
Then I separated them from the liquid in the pot and reduced the liquid for a few minutes, then I threw all the rest of the ingredients in (except the reserved mussels) and cooked for like 10 minutes, and poured that whole mess over the reserved mussels and put the whole thing in the fridge overnight, supposedly they are better made the night before serving. Serve via toothpicks or grilled/toasted bread, I imagine...this would also be a knockout summertime double bill with the famous salpicon.
UPDATE: I served these, and though they were all eaten, mostly by Noops, the general reaction was skepticism, possibly b/c everyone involved had read the above description of how carelessly I'd prepared them with regard to food safety.
But also I think that maybe serving them with a stack of buttery crackers might have been more inviting than the toothpick option. I also thought they were totally excellent on a piece of buttered crusty bread.