30.3.12

cellophane.


One of the best Thai things we've made in a long time, and super easy.

+++

glass noodle shrimp hotpot.

1 pinkie-sized piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and minced fine, or 2 tsp ground turmeric
1 and 1/2 cups coconut milk
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp palm sugar
1/2 pound or 1 cup shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 handful sugar snap peas or snow peas
1 handful fresh spinach, chopped

100gr cellophane noodles

1 cup basil leaves, chopped
cilantro, chopped

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28.3.12

i'm a walking disaster.
















Above: me onstage Saturday night. My shit was complex.

Below: the most non-disappointing takeout Thai in Amsterdam, from Som Tam: duck with shiitakes and basil, som tam (green papaya salad, awesome), tom kha goong (the gross looking thing with its cover still on).

This is still totally fucking grand, you should make it if you haven't yet. Do use old, big carrots.

Oh yeah, and I went to the Worst restaurant tonight (really endless joke possiblities). Remind me to tell you about it in a few days.


27.3.12

march in mokum.























In an uncharacteristic fit of motivation/desperation, we accomplished 66% of the items on our Museumkaart Targets list yesterday. As well as some other things.

We ended up back in the neighborhood where we used to live and work when we had our record shop, a neighborhood which we will probably forever associate with whiplashy ups and downs ("Hooray we found a cheap new location for our record shop because people like us and want to support us!!! Holy Mother of Unfortunate Fucking God, some low, low, low, demonic piece(s) of shit junkie motherfucker actually broke in and robbed us the night of our opening party!!! Commence fetal position").

After giving it some serious thought just now, I don't think there's actually an expletive potent enough to convey the incredible and pretty final disillusionment of having what was once your labor of love violated via forced entry/burglary....but that's another story.

















Back when the shop was on the Jodenbreestraat, lunch often arrived in the form of overpriced but generally pretty good soup from Soup & Zo a few doors down (above). Overpriced, but, yeah, once you've lost tens of thousands of dollars in your first couple years of being open, what's an extra few bucks for lunch? Ahahahahahahahahahahah. But that's another story.

Yesterday we grabbed a peanut soup and a spinach/coconut thing and ate them on the not-obviously-relaxing-but-somehow-kind-of-OK Mr. Visserplein. Then we went to the Jewish Historical Museum.

+++























And then: we hadn't had enough of the al fresco/traffic combination, so we went to Cafe Panini on the Vijzelgracht for a coffee and a, duh, a panino that was a little pricey but very authentically Italian: surprisingly good tomatoes, good basil, good mozzarella.























And the reason that we were even near the Vijzelgracht was that we were going to FOAM for that thing I was talking about. Which was lame. But there was a nice exhibit of New York Times photojournalism. And a coot next to a boat.

26.3.12

musea.


















I have a Museumkaart, and I am terrrrrrrrible about using it. Terrible. It has been used much more often by out-of-town guests posing as me than it has actually been used by me myself.

And yet I still have one. So, I am going to use it. My major motivation is of the "get busy livin' or get busy dyin'" variety, but also, it's hard to tell how many of our museums are going to survive the culture cuts. I guess I should also go to the Concertgebouw and see some symphonic music since that's not going to survive either, but...yeah, were it a bit more affordable I might do that, which, yes, says something critically important about the sustainability of the whole Concertgebouw enterprise, I realize that.

Etc.

Back to my point, museums. This month it would be wise to try and see:
  • Paul Klee at Cobra. I've always liked the primitive playfulness of his approach, so seeing his actual childhood drawings should be informative. Maybe nice to combine with a wandel through the Amsterdamse Bos and a stop at Toko Madjoe
  • Else Berg and Mommie Schwarz at JHM. A German/Dutch couple who were members of the Bergen School, and significant in the Amsterdam avant-garde scene of the early 1900s, both of them refused to wear Jewish stars during the German occupation and were sent to Auschwitz in 1942.  
  • This at FOAM
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25.3.12

one month, no weeks, and no days.
















Yes, that is a schoolgirl being torn apart by a seagull.

+++

For the first time I can remember, I'm actually having the thought "Why would you go back to drinking?" It's just been too many perky-feeling mornings in a row. I feel like most of my mental capacity is available and ready to be accessed if necessary. I understand that I love beer, and often enjoy a good red wine, but right now it's still very easy to put myself back in my February state of mind, and it's just a dehydrated, foggy, deluded, powerless, unhappy mess, and I seriously can't imagine what kind of drinking would have been enjoyable enough to justify that.

So I think I'm making a radical decision here: I think I will henceforth switch my default social setting to "not drinking", with occasional, perhaps monthly, perhaps less, perhaps more, bouts of "drinking". And we will see how sustainable this is. Maybe it's not. But as plans go, this would seem to be better for me than having a default setting of "drinking".

+++

So what happened since we last talked?

Hm. We watched The Birds (annoying and kind of brilliant sometimes, more on this later), Rushmore (finally...it was OK, better than expected, I'll call it Wes's third best), and 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (pretty riveting, not as grueling as I expected); I bought an expensive fuzzbox; KK shut her shit down; my gig was fine, albeit without any interaction with the guitar hero in question, which was actually totally fine; we got some totally un-disappointing takeout from Som Tam Thai; we made a very American Sunday dinner that pressed good and necessary buttons but was highly unphotographable (left), yes, just like My Funny Valentine ha ha, except that if you crop it right, your mind kind of imagines a better-looking dish than it actually was.

+++
+++
+++

When a friend and fellow blogger stops blogging, yes, I imagine one tends to examine one's own blogging habits/needs/rewards/motivations/etc (just like when a friend quits drinking I imagine, ha). And, yes, I think that as much as I know and understand why she stopped, I know and understand why I don't stop...

+++
+++
+++

sweet potatoes with spiced butter.

2 sweet potatoes

3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp dark molasses
tiny pinch cinnamon
slightly larger pinch cloves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (bigger than either of the two previous pinch fractions)

+++

caramelized fennel with orange.

2 bulbs fennel, roughly julienned
2 or 3 tbsp butter
1/8 cup orange juice
zest of an orange
pinch o' thyme
salt
pepper

+++

21.3.12

rashid is homo.


















Can I say that I made the Korte Vrijstellingstoets my bitch? Can I?

Then I will. Welkom in Nederland Markie.

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20.3.12

my other blog is a ______.























Above: third-hand homemade sambal, a friend of Tom's gave it to Tom, who gave it to Hilly, who gave it to me. Finally cracked it open today, and as HBF intuited, it's good. Spicy.

Below: not a urine sample, but kaffir lime/curry oil. Also good.

Everywhere else: I have a feeling I'm mostly going to be over here this week, in case anyone's looking for me.

+++

17.3.12

female trouble.























Above: an American dessert classic from the spoon of M to the T. Below: Wilbert, Onno, Jasper at Hipster Central.

16.3.12

eleven.

Feel like doing some out-of-the-ordinary cooking...weather is gray and cold, and for the next couple days most of my to-dos are low-pressure around the house stuff. Thees ees a goood time too cooook, no?

Used to read about Eleven Madison Park a bit back in the eGullet days, it always sounded good and just inside the border of Pretensionland. Dude has a new cookbook out, let's poach some ideas yo, haha that's culinary humor.

This post contains something that I would never ever cook in its entirety, but the ingredient list seems like it could make for a dreamy adaptation, see bottom of this post.

This also sounds like an incredible ingredient list in search of an easy recipe, though I'm kind of wary of the cardamom/tarragon pairing. Smells Like Dissonant Florals.

Strawberry Gazpacho could work in warmer weather. It's also a nice name for a Mexican stripper.

I'm going to try this with kohlrabi, maybe this afternoon.

And this. This is on the verge of comedy, the longest cauliflower recipe in the history of the worl' (scroll down once you're there). I kind of want to try the doable parts just to see what happens.

+++

poached shrimp, avocado, green apple, tarragon salad.

shrimp
orange juice and zest
white wine
fennel
celery
leek
garlic
black pepper
fennel and coriander seed
star anise and salt

diced green apple
avocado
greek yogurt
mayo
tarragon

Poach prawns in the implied court-bouillon for 5 minutes and let cool in the poaching liquid. Assemble the rest.

+++

15.3.12

wachtkamer.

















One of the very best things about not drinking is: waking up the morning after a six-hour dinner party thing and feeling perfectly fine. It's a state of affairs that's pretty much totally unfamiliar to me, and today, this morning, (not to be totally lame but) I'm finding it downright inspirational.

Doomsday Rehab Recap:

Alcohol: It's been 25 days now, which doesn't sound like a lot to me: 3.5 weeks sounds like longer b/c it implies 3 weekends, which tend to be the hardest parts. But really, everything feels like pretty smooth sailing right now.

Diet/exercise: mwah. Diet OK, a little more sugar, dairy and meat than I would like. Still no gluten, and I remain skeptical about what if any effect this is having on my system. I mean, I feel great, but that could be attributed to several things.

Sleep: OK, not great. 5 or 6 hours a night. But it's non-alcohol sleep and thus more like real sleep, so it's a manageable situation.

Exercise: happening, but not with the brainless, mechanized regularity that it should. Call this an "area for improvement". Smoking? Could be better, but I'm only smoking every three or four days or so. That's good, right?

So, overall? I give myself a 7. Time to recalibrate and hunker down, etc.

+++

Still reluctant to talk/specualte about The Exam, so we'll just move on to my Obsession-in-Waiting: I was invited to be part of an ad hoc band that will open for one of my biggest post-highschool guitar heroes-slash-influences, Number 34 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time (but I mean Eric Clapton is #2 so it's pretty much bullshit, I don't care what EvH has to say about him).

That's in a week or so, and thus my next 9 days will involve convincing myself to "be the ball" and working very hard to transport myself into the headspace of Ron Asheton rather than hiding behind my more usual Robert Fripp demeanor.

+++

party fowl.























Above/below: Amsterdam's Portugese marzipan barnyard animal community suffered some devastating losses tonight.























+++

14.3.12

crash/burn.

Pleasure button needs pushing. We tried some things last night: 90s-style stuffed chicken breast, Häagen-Dazs, History Of The World Part One, etc. Semi-ironically, the button resisted depression.

Tonight we have the first Smell 'n' Learn in many years, b/c Brodie is back in town, and it's hard to be consumed by unpleasant thoughts when Brodie is around, and all of that is good. Our contributions to the menu for tonight are tentatively beer-braised chicken and the salad below.

+++

radicchio, oranges, olives.

3 oranges
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/3 cup EVOO
2 cups veldsla/mâche
1 large head of radicchio, halved, torn into pieces (about 5 cups loosely packed)
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup black olives, pitted, halved
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

To be edited: Cut peel and white pith from oranges. Working over small bowl and using small sharp knife, cut between membranes to release segments. Squeeze membranes to release juice. Combine 1/4 cup orange juice and vinegar in small bowl (reserve remaining juice for another use). Whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss mâche, frisée, and radicchio in large bowl. Add orange segments, sliced red onion, and Kalamata olives. Drizzle orange dressing over salad and toss well to coat. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and serve.

+++

13.3.12

_______.
























Oooooo, not to be a bummer or anything but my exam today was many times harder than expected, I can't tell if I passed or not, it's going to be close. I won't know for at least a week. Not the outcome I was hoping for. Hopefully the disappointment will pass soon and the repercussions won't be too catastrophic, and then I'll blog about something fun.

I obviously need to post about something else so this post won't keep coming up when I open my browser. Hold on.

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12.3.12

quash.























Last night of studying.

But since I can't motivate myself to talk about that at all, let's talk about dinner. Mara's making a puttanesca version of the ol' polpetti di tuna, and I'm experimenting with some kind of roasted squash salad. Things I know I want to include are: roasted squash; gorgonzola; toasted pumpkinseeds; roasted pumpkinseed oil; maple syrup. I obviously need an acidic element and some other textural thing. Cider vinegar? Arugula?

+++

spiced pumpkinseeds.

100gr raw pumpkinseeds (the green kind)
1 or 2 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
garam masala or other spice blend to taste

In a bowl, coat seeds with oil, salt, and spices. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 175C for 10-12 minutes. Let cool and eat.

t minus wha?


















Outside Stork before the Minny Pops show.

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11.3.12

sun day.























I could eat this every day for breakfast. Smoked salmon, grapefruit, coriander, olive oil, avocado: it just works, yo.

10.3.12

opruimen.
















Am backing up our aging computers this morning and found this. Take heed, you non-cat people: the above diagram is 100% accurate (and also actual size I think). And it is this awesome predictability that makes cats such entertaining pets, it's like having a profoundly retarded sibling that it's OK to make fun of.

In the department of Other Things You Can Do While Your Roommate is Asleep: yeah, also, I need to kind of plan how to get rid of the things that are in the fridge. Primary space taker uppers are green beans, kohlrabi, spinach, and an assload of salad greens. And grapefruit. Plans to come.

+++

satyrday.
















 Of course I don't mean me, hopefully some other worthy person is enjoying a satyrday. My Satyr Quotient at the moment must be hovering somewhere in single digits in terms of being drunk and having sex with nubile young women, I'm imagining something like 9/100, and really that's all residual, trace, etc leftover from last year. I may in fact be the opposite of a satyr at the moment, whatever that's called.

Doomsday Rehab proceeding without incident, as is studying (3 days til test). Tomorrow it'll be 3 weeks of no drinking and very little smoking (last cigarette was a week ago). Have gotten past the socially inhibitive stage I think, as in I think I can be in public around my drunk-ass friends without wanting to flee or kill people. I'm at something like cruising altitude: it feels like I could do this for a while.

And in fact, my immediate plan is to keep this up for another month, so seven weeks total, until 9 April when our friends Jenny and Kenny come to town. And then when they're gone I return to Doomsday Rehab. Yes I know, every Doomsday Rehab counselor on earth would say that this plan is a bad idea, but...I never wanted to never drink again. Some people can do it that way, but I don't want to be one of those people.

Regardless. Right now: still feeling good, although not quite sleeping as well as I was. But still getting like 6 hours a night, mostly uninterrupted, and yes I managed to get my passionflower back down to the recommended dose and am still sleeping OK, so yes, you could say we're stable.

Diet: still no gluten, jury is still out on what effect this is having on my life.

+++

9.3.12

bacalao a la vizcaina.

















The bacalao is ready today, this is what I'm doing with it.

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AND: I kind of fucked it up. Missed an important ingredient, a cup of water.

Actually, there were a couple problems: the recipe above is for skinless, deboned bacalao, and mine, as you can tell from the pic above, still had the skin on (sadly gorgeous, I rarely get emotional about my fish, but I was caught off-guard by how, mmm, alive the skin was, sorry), and as you can't tell, it had plenty of bones.

So I kind of had to shred my bacalao in order to make sure it was boneless, and that meant that it couldn't really be "fried in chunks" as the recipe specified. Things kind of went downhill from there: I skipped a step, which led me to forget the cup of water, etc. etc. etc.

It's still completely edible, in other words I'm eating it, but yeah it's just way too concentrated...that blasted cup of water.

I could see trying something like this again maybe, but with a regular whitefish, not the ol' bacalao.

And will I ever try to cook with bakkeljauw/bacalao again? Yeah, probably: there's something attractive about the ritual, and the taste/texture is unique. Fuck the cod stocks.

I'm kidding, mostly. One last thing I should mention for future reference: every Surinamese recipe I saw had you de-salt the cod for a ridiculously short period of time compared to the Spanish or Italian recipes I was using, like 20 minutes vs. 2 days. Soooo....I don't know. More research necessary if we do this again.























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8.3.12

beet carpaccio.



















I feel like I've been saying this a lot lately, but this really was one of the best vegetable things I've eaten in recent memory, even though my photo is yeah gross. Mara made it (thanks boober!), it's fresh and surprising-tasting, completely based on a recipe from Riet Albers, here.

I wouldn't want to imply that our version is better, but it does seem simpler/faster/easier and next time it will also have a few pistachios in it. To make it even faster/easier, you could also eliminate the "second dressing" and just use the "first dressing", as I did for lunch the next day....but it was great as written below.

+++

beet carpaccio with field greens, hirtenkäse and coriander/mustard seed dressing.


2 cooked beets, sliced as thinly as possible

1/2 tsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp coriander seed
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup mint leaves
3 tbsp EVOO
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

juice and zest of the other half of the lemon
3 tbsp EVOO
salt
pepper

2 handfuls veldsla (field greens)
100 gr hirtenkäse

Make first dressing by first zhooming seeds in food processor. Add next four ingredients and process again til you have a dressing. This is your "first dressing".

Whisk the next four ingredients into a dressing, this is your "second dressing".

Arrange beet slices on plate. Toss greens in second dressing, place on top of beets, crumble cheese on top. Dress plate with first dressing.

+++

good evening.


















Mara just reminded me that one time in high school she threw up on a cop at a U2 concert. Jägermeister.

Above: Westerpark this morning at 9am. Tonight's dinner: beet carpaccio. Moroccan chicken wings. Some kind of salad with a faux-bacon dressing or if that fails then maybe this tahini dressing that we haven't made in a while.

The fennel seed in these wings makes for nice little surprising bursts of flavor.

+++

moroccan chicken wings.

3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cayenne
Juice of one lemon
an extra sprinkling of salt

Oven at 200C. Place chicken in a single layer on a roasting pan. Cook for 30 minutes until chicken is tender, then increase heat to 250 and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until chicken is crispy and caramelized.

7.3.12

virgin waters.














Today's plans: salt cod and vocabulary. I guess things could be worse.

+++

Let me preemptively mention to non-regular visitors if they exist that yes I know all about why I shouldn't be consuming this product, thank you for your concern.

So yeah, what to do with my first and probably last bakkeljauw? Part of me feels like I should just do the Surinamese thing, but I've also really been enjoying me some Spanish and Italian cooking lately, both of which love them some bacalhau.

In any case, I've got time to sort it out: the fish needs to be desalinated for 2-3 days first, today being Day 1. Here are the instructions I'm following for now.

+++

















Oh, and hey: Moop is home....toot toot tooot ttooooooot! She brought several notable souvenirs from our old house in the ATL: this is a recipe, half in my handwriting and half in Mara's, on some kind of recipe card that you might stick in a cookbook. Notable is the fact that I don't have any idea what the UPS in the title means, or what cookbook this might have been intended for, or what the dish in question tasted like. But it certainly looks tasty in a 1990s fusion way.

UPDATE: Our little minds have gotten hooked on trying to decipher this. Why did each of us write half of this? And where did it come from? What is UPS??? We're thinking that since there are no quantities, it's us trying to recreate something we ate somewhere, my guess is that it was either in New Orleans or Seattle.

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Another souvenir from America, this one is from Mara's mom Jeanie: the Tupperware Chop 'N' Prep:























It's actually pretty awesome. You put your "item to be chopped" in there and pull the ripcord like you're starting a lawnmower. Seconds later, your shit is chopped. Very helpful for making things like the salpicon where you're chopping lots of different things tinily. Thaaaaanks mommydog!

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6.3.12

theme, variations.

This is closely related to the carrot thing I made the other day, but it's in a different, probably more easily servable configuration: veggies roasted instead of boiled, and then diced instead of mashed. I tried it with roasted garlic instead of raw this time and a few other tweaks, it's still good, though if not as ka-BLAM! as the other recipe, it's much less of a Breath Destroyer for sure. It's like the older brother of the other thing.

+++

tunisian roasted vegetable salad.

carrots
parsnips
EVOO
garlic
salt
pepper

cumin
caraway
harissa
a lemon
argan oil or another less healthy, more affordable oil
fresh mint, chopped
salt
pepper

Roast vegetables and garlic. Let cool. Dice, combine with rest of ingredients. I served mine at room temperature.

+++

5.3.12

incidental.

















Incidentally: I was walking home tonight from another sober show (remind me to elaborate on the peculiar headspace required for going to gigs without drinking), and realized I was approaching what was allegedly The Best Shoarma in Amsterdam.

A couple of years ago, I was coming back from a gig, probably my own since I was in a cab. This was definitely not a sober show. This we know because my normally untalkative self asked my Turkish cab driver where he thought the best shoarma in town was. He said without hesitation, "Mesut, it's right around the corner," and waved his jewel-encrusted paw around vaguely.

I said, "OK, thanks", and promptly fell asleep, eventually tumbling out of the cab and up the stairs to my apartment. This piece of shoarma information is all I remember about this night, so I somehow managed to file it away somewhere good.  Unfortunately I never had a chance to use this intelligence because once I stumbled across the actual location (on the Rozengracht), repeated passings revealed that Mesut isn't open during the day, and that's the only time I'm ever on the Rozengracht.

Cut to tonight. I'm on the Rozengracht, it's night time, I look up, and I'm passing Mesut. I decide this is my one chance. Fifteen minutes later I'm taking the above picture.

Obviously this can't be a real review since gluten-free boy couldn't eat the whole sandwich. But there are a couple of distinctive things about this shoarma. The bread is several notches above your average tasteless white pita, it's real bread (I didn't taste it, but you can tell, just look, go on, look). And it came with three sauces instead of the usual two: garlic, tomato, and sambal.

I tasted everything but the bread, and I'll easily agree that their shoarma seems above-average, done with apparent care. Much closer, but still not quite in the same league as what I've had in Berlin, but maybe that's because...A) I wasn't drunk, as I usually would be in Berlin, and B) (drumroll, please)....because I was at the wrong Mesut.

As I was leaving, I looked up and saw that, from the direction I'd been approaching, the awning had been carefully concealing a numeral "2", meaning that for years I've been planning my attack on the wrong Mesut. Google tells me the real Mesut is on De Clerqstraat (and they are open during the day).

Voordeel: Mesut 2 on the Rozengracht is not open during the day, but it would seem that this is so they can stay open til 4am (which someone on IENS said, no verification yet), which immediately launches them onto the eventually-important-again list of Places To Eat When You're Out Late and Drunk. It seats 40 and the atmosphere is pretty gezellig for a shoarma joint.

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4.3.12

caponata/caponatina.

















I'm not sure if anyone really knows the difference between these two. Supposedly caponatina is a "more delicate" version of caponata, in which the vegetables are cut more finely, but Google turns up photos of both that look identical so who the fuck knows. The version I've always made is from Giuliano Bugialli's Sardinia/Sicily book, which I pretty much love, and just yesterday I realized that his recipe is actually for caponatina.

Whatever, I made a couple of small changes. This makes a lot of caponawhatever, so these quantities are good if you're making it for a party or to bring to someone's house. If you're just making it for home, you could do half this and be happy. It also supposedly keeps for a few weeks in the fridge, so it's not so bad if you do have leftovers, they'd be tasty in a pasta or on a pizza.

Ooh, also, I did the salting your eggplant thing (after you cut it, throw some salt on it, let it sit for an hour, rinse), and the eggplant was really really good, so maybe there is something to it after all.

+++

caponatina.

4 medium-sized eggplants
coarse-grained salt

8 celery stalks
4 bell peppers
1 red onion
about a cup of EVOO (not to be used all at once, it's for sauteeing all of the above vegetables separately)

1 can chopped tomatoes, drained, or 3 to 4 canned Roma tomatoes, chopped fine
1 good anchovy filet, minced
roughly 4 tbsp green olives, chopped fine
3 or 4 tbsp capers
4 tbsp currants

1/2 cup red vinegar, I actually used balsamic this time
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup roasted almonds, chopped
I also threw a few tbsp pistachios in there

black pepper to taste, and maybe a tiny bit of salt

fresh basil and fresh mint, chopped, for garnish

+++

3.3.12

i will escape.















Continuing our series of Drawings by Atlanta Children, this is of course a portrait of Harriet Tubman, drawn by our good friend, Conor O'Neill, age...unknown. Young.

+++

Why can I never remember how to roast nuts in the oven? 175C, 5-10 minutes.

+++

So, yes, it's Saturday night, and since I don't really feel like doing anything else, how about a Doomsday Rehab update? This will be more for me than for you, so don't expect much from an awesomeness perspective.

Yes: it's been 13 days since I've had any alcohol, and I feel pretty awesome, comparatively. My mood has evolved from desperate and weepy to hmmm, patient? Is patient a mood? Resolute? Calm and introspective, but not in a bad way.

I didn't smoke for a week and then last Sunday I had a social engagement which required a few. But in general, not smoking is going OK and seems very possible.

I'm sleeping UNUSUALLY and reliably well, thanks to a hefty dose of passionflower; unfortunately it's unclear exactly how bad it is for your liver. Sigh. There's only ever been one case of someone, you know, dying after taking it, but that was in conjunction with kava, which plenty of other people died from. Well, seven, but that's enough really. I used to take kava myself, actually, before anyone knew it was maybe not so good for you.

Not much we can do about that now. The point is, even though no one really knows how bad it is for you, I should try and dial the passionflower dose back to a level that everyone generally agrees is safe-ish. Thus, tonight I go back to one capsule.

In other supplement news, I tried a tbsp of ground milk thistle seed yesterday, no ill effects. Remains to be seen what the best way to ingest it is, basically I resorted to Dog Technology yesterday and mixed it with some peanut butter. Not ideal.

Haven't taken ginseng or gingko in a few weeks, maybe I'll try adding at least the gingko back this week in the interest of becoming smarter. Got rid of the ginseng b/c I want to start taking my blood pressure this coming week. I know, I know. I'm also thinking about my salt consumption.

What else, hmmm....yes. Fitness stumbling into the correct gear slowly but somewhat promisingly. Marijuana use, yes, nightly, but only a little. Should probably switch to an organic/bio strain rather than the old Northern Lights, but it's so reliable, it's almost....medicinal. I'll see what I can do.

Ditched the flaxseed for now b/c it's such a hassle to prepare the way I've been doing it: I need a separate spice grinder.

Diet: fine. No gluten in a couple weeks. No dairy except for a quesadilla on Thursday. Oh and a little hirtenkase in my carrot thingie. Eating a little too much meat, but that's tapering off. In general, I'm not paying much attention to what I'm cooking, again comparatively speaking, and that's probably good, from an obsessive thought perspective.

Last night I did eat about a pound of carrots for dinner, accidentally...that Tunisian shit was good and I didn't feel like making anything else. Tonight roasted kohlrabi and maybe a piece of chicken, maybe not. Breakfast is kind of not really happening other than leftovers but I guess that's fine. There's a little too much chocolate in the house (is that a P-Funk song?), but shit yo a brother needs to find pleasure somewhere.

If I don't sound like I'm brimming over with enthusiasm, I guess I'm not, but I'm just a little tired. Need to go back to being bold about my sleepymeds dosing time: 9pm. Yes, I will be asleep by midnight, but this is kind of the point you giant fucking douchebag isn't it.

OK!

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take shelter.
















I'm hoping the Great Magnet will cut me some slack on this: for a long time I've been amazed at the consistent paths that tornadoes take through northern Georgia. If the American weatherpeople are ever talking about "severe weather" in the southeast US, I'd say roughly 90% of the time it will pass through northern Atlanta. I don't want to get into this right now b/c I have things to do, but remind me to tell you someday about my tornadophobia (or possibly astraphobia).

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When I was 12 or so (thought you didn't have time for this, yo?), my family moved to Atlanta from Albany, NY somewhere far outside of Philadelphia, PA, and shortly thereafter my relationship to weather changed forever. Back in the 70s, up in Philadelphia the "worst" thing that could happen to you from a meteorological perspective would be snow, lots of snow.

But, unlike tornadoes, snow can also be fun, and in fact, if you're a kid and you don't have to drive in it, snow is pretty much nothing but fun and adventure and days off from school and going over to your neighbor's house to look at his dad's Playboys and accidentally finding nude Polaroids of his extremely churchgoing mom. Ah, snow days.

I'm not sure exactly how long it was after we moved to Atlanta that I was introduced to the very unsnowlike pleasures of lightning, but I still remember it with the vivid persistence of a really bad dream.

It was summertime, I was outside playing with some friends that I don't remember except that they were blond, we were in some kind of semi-wilderness area that wasn't part of any subdivision or neighborhood. Maybe it was a construction site on its way to becoming a subdivision. Anyway it was probably 10 minutes away from my house on foot down a two-lane highway.

The way summer storms happen in the south is that the sky gets really low and becomes a beautifully threatening bluish-grey with charcoal-colored accents, and the feeling of the air changes, as if things get more quiet. Maybe they do. And then fat warm raindrops start smacking into you with great velocity. Things rarely start with a polite drizzle.

This goes on for five or so transitional minutes until the real rain starts. And at that point, you should really be somewhere other than outside. If you're in a car, it's hard to drive b/c you can't see. And no one can see, so driving gets stupid quickly. If you're on foot, you're just being drenched in a punishing (yet warm) way.

So far, this all sounds OK, even to me. But the lightning that accompanies these storms is unusually, shittily aggressive. I mean, if you go to Wikipedia and look up "lightning", the first picture is one of Atlanta being struck rather spectacularly by lightning.

So anyway, we were outside playing. And it started to rain, rather typically slow and sparsely, and then suddenly rather emphatically hard and with impressive density. Being American kids and it being summer, we had no "rain gear", so we gave up on whatever adventure we were engaged in and started heading for the nearest of our houses, which I think was mine; first laughing and talking and walking, and then jogging silently as we got wetter and wetter.

And then the lightning started, it all happened very fast, not this business where you see the lightning and then hear the thunder later, allowing you to gauge how far away the storm is; but both happening at exactly the same time, really close by, somewhere behind us. At this point in my teenage development, I knew a few bits of conventional wisdom for "how not to get hit by lightning": 1) don't hide under a tree, 2) don't stand near a metal fence, 3) avoid power lines.

The big problem with my then-current situation was that the only way to get back to our neighborhood was to go down this typical American two-lane road. It had nowhere for pedestrians to be, so no sidewalks. On one side of the road was a very long metal chain-link fence with a line of tall pine trees right up next to it. On the other side was a rather low-slung set of power lines that I seem to remember you could even hear humming.

I remember weighing the options as to which side seemed safer, but I don't remember why I suddenly chose to sprint across the road to the side with the power lines, probably because parents and teachers really drill the thing about avoiding trees into your young little brain. Anyway, I wasn't over there for 60 seconds before a deafening crack-boom and tremendous flash of purple-white light exploded directly over my head, maybe 3 meters above me...everything stopped, I was sure I was dead.

And yet I was still running, so, yeah, not. After that, I like to imagine what I must've looked like to the outside observer by the time I was approaching our neighborhood: through some kind of bionic teenage adrenaline boost, I remember feeling like I was running faster than anyone had ever run. I was surprised and impressed that my friends were keeping up with me, except they weren't: when I finally turned to look behind me I could see them flailing and panting off in the distance.

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When I have time I'll fill you in on my late summer nights in our house in Atlanta waking Mara up to tell her to get in the basement during tornado warnings; but for now I'll just say that I'm pretty sure the above experience is at the root of my problems with thunderstorms and tornadoes.

Although there's more to it: I can't really mention all this without mentioning Take Shelter (below). I saw it a couple weeks ago and it struck me (ha) rather hard, for a number of reasons, and then I read this interview with the director, in which he said:

"When I began writing Take Shelter in the summer of 2008, I was in the middle of my first year of marriage. Although both my career and personal life were on a positive track, I had a nagging feeling that the world at large was heading for harder times. This free-floating anxiety was part economic, part just growing up, but it mainly came from the fact that I finally had things in my life that I didn't want to lose."

That was totally me in 1998.

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EDIT: I realized after puzzling over the memories generated by the story above that I'd misremembered almost everything in terms of time and place. I'm pretty sure the lightning strike in question actually happened up in Pennsylvania because I think I was running home with J.J. Lapp, the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen up to that point in my life, and her brother, both very blond. And I know for certain that finding my neighbor's mom's naked pictures happened in Atlanta during my first experiment with skipping a lot of school (like weeks of school), not a snow day at all. Ah well. It all still happened.

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2.3.12

omi houriya.

















Woo! Just made this to see if it was worth bringing to an HBF/tc + J-Kim potluck on Sunday (I love the complex equation those two have become, I mean their CB handles of course not their real selves ha ha xoxoxoxox).

But seriously folks. It is. This tastes very very much like the carrots from Maoz Falafel, which if you've had them before you know that's a very good thing to taste like. It's totally a Breath Destroyer but yeah no one's smelling mine tonight are they.

Dus: I'm bringing it on Sunday (along with my originally scheduled caponata, semi-similar but different enough). The recipe below is pretty much verbatim from Claudia Roden's New Book Of Middle Eastern Food from 1972 (at least the ingredient list is verbatim, my instructions are on the curt side), which almost never lets me down. The only change I made was to add both cumin and caraway, she suggested either, but I like the occasional surprise of a caraway seed.

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omi houriya (tunisian carrot salad).

700gr carrots (the recipe called for "old carrots", I used winterpeen)
salt

4 tbsp EVOO
3 tbsp good vinegar, I used apple cider
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp harissa
1 tsp or more ground cumin
1/2 tsp caraway seed
1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 cup or more feta or hirtenkase, crumbled
16 green olives, quartered or finely chopped

Peel carrots, cut into big pieces. Boil in salted water til tender. Drain. Mash. Add the rest of everything through the ginger and combine. Garnish with feta and olives. Serves 6-8.

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hondenbelasting.

I'm not actually blogging, I'm studying, but as you know, when I discover something interesting I like to share. As HBF/tc reminded me the other day: sharing is caring.

So what I discovered: there's a dog tax in Amsterdam (well probably elsewhere too). For each dog you have, you have to pay 103 euros per year to the city government. Huh.

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1.3.12

soto ayam.























Tried to take a picture but no camera would cooperate, and plus it's just a bright yellow chicken soup, you can imagine that just fine I think. It's really good, a totally soothing yet spicy and exotic chicken soup.

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soto ayam (indonesian/surinamese chicken soup with turmeric).

4 chicken legs (not drumsticks, the whole leg) or 1.2 to 1.5kg equivalent whole chicken with bones.
400gr carrots, cut for soup
1 onion, in large dice
2 liters water
8 kaffir lime leaves
one 2-inch-long piece of fresh turmeric, peeled
1 tsp coarse salt, less if it's not coarse
1 habanero, Scotch Bonnet, or Madame Jeanette pepper, whole
12 allspice/pimiento berries, whole

1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds

the turmeric from earlier, plus more if you like
4 cloves garlic
one 2-inch-long section of ginger, peeled
one 2-inch-long section of galangal, peeled
5 candlenuts
one or two tbsp water to make processing possible

1 to 2 tbsp coconut oil for frying spice paste

for serving:
fresh coriander leaves
cut limes
hard-boiled eggs if you want

Basically, combine the first group of ingredients and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the chicken, let it cool, and then get the meat off those dang legs and shred it. Also get that chile pepper out of the soup and discard.

While they're cooling, take the pepper, coriander, and cumin, and grind them to a fine powder in a food processor. Add the next set of ingredients plus the turmeric from the first step and process to a paste, adding water if necessary. Fry the paste over LOW heat for 10 minutes, it should bubble but not burn or get crispy .

Add the spice paste and the chicken back to the broth and cook for 10-15 minutes. It should be done now, but mine didn't taste awesome until the next day, when you should really skim the fat off, reheat and serve with garnishes. You could remove the allspice berries and kaffir lime leaves if you wanted. Also, soto ayam traditionally has noodles, you could do cellophane noodles if you wanted, I just didn't want.

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