bao project @ scimmieland.

Baooooooooo!!! Bao bao! B'bao!

It's always a great thing when the Mara meets a new exotic foodstuff that she feels passionate about, because that means our kitchen will be producing a pretty fucking authentic version of said foodstuff before you can say lickety-split (?...ignore me).

Which brings us to tonight's story: a few weeks ago (as documented here and here) the flaming mooperbird encountered her first ever Taiwanese bao, served up by the Bao Project ladies at a couple of different locations in our hood. And so tonight? We have our own bao.

And Jesus, fuck! This is no piddly trial run: as lovely as the Bao Project ladies' wares were, Jimmy hit the jackpot tonight. In the interest of politeness, I will say that ours are at least as good.

I shall try to adequately notate our wonderland of eating adventure, primarily so that we can make all this shitz for you next time you come over. These were all four stellar, in all probability barely-improvable, at least by me.

Here's what we hadz, in descending order of greatness (qua my taste buds), but they were within decimal points of each other on the goodness scale:

1) "Char siu" tofu with Momofuku salt/sugar cucumber pickles, toasted sesame seeds, roasted peanuts, cilantro. A few drops of Szechuan chili oil would also not suck I imagine.

2) Lemongrass-coconut milk chicken, toasted coconut, Momofuku pickled carrots, peanuts, sriracha, cilantro. A close second place.

3) Teriyaki salmon, salt+sugar cukes, wasabi/mayo, sesame seeds, furikake, peanuts, scallions. I liked this more than Mara did, it possibly needed a little more moisture. Possibly Momofuku's pickled mustard seeds would fix that right up.

4) BBQ tofu, pickled carrots, salt+sugar cukes.This is in 4th place for me but was still totally lekker and was Mara's fave I think.


momofuku's steamed buns, adapted. 

makes 30 buns

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp active dry yeast
1 and 1/2 cups water, at room temperature
4 and 1/4 cups plain ol' flour (not self-rising)
6 tbsp white sugar
3 tbsp coffee cream (was supposed to be milk powder but toko was closed)
1 tbsp salt

rounded 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup soft butter, at room temperature (should've been lard but we don't use lard)

Combine everything, knead it a bit. Put it in an oiled bowl to rise in a warmish place for 90 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch it down and turn out onto a surface. Slice into strips, roll strips into logs, cut logs into ping-pong-ball-size shapes (this is for a smallish bao). Let them rest and rise for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the number of balls you have, cut out small pieces of parchment paper for them to steam on. When they've risen then you flatten them and roll them with a rolling pin into oval shapes. The next thing is fold them, we did do the Momofuku buttered chopstick thing, but MT is skeptical as to whether or not this is critical. In any case, after they're folded, let them rest for 30-40 minutes. DO NOT PUT THEM IN OR ON A WARM OVEN, cuz the little bao mouths fuse together.

Put them on the parchment, steam for 10 minujos.


char siu tofu.

200 grams tofu
3 tbsp mirin + 1 tbsp red wine (we were lacking proper ingredients, but this was delicious)
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp grated ginger
1 garlic clove, optional
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 drop red food coloring, yes, probably made from crushed bugskulls, i know, gross.

This was perfect under our circumstances, but this could be more finely tuned probably. Was still great. Cut tofu, fry in neutral oil and a little butter, coat with sauce and brown to correct brownness. Not much of a recipe I guess.



pick up the pieces, volume xcvii.

Flipping the Doomsday Rehab reboot switch again, note to self: sleeping better was nice, wasn't it? Let's do that again.


Excellent Thing Of The Week: Mars made Jamie Oliver's cauliflower risotto Tuesday night and, permission to speak plainly sir, it was like really really awesome? The best thing we've made in a while and totally worth serving to people.

As always, changes were made: our default risotto prep was used, almonds became the basis of the pangrattato instead of bread crumbs, and the cauliflower was unsurprisingly roasted instead of sauteed. No pictures, but it was fannnnntastic.


roasted cauliflower risotto with anchovy-almond-chile pangrattato.



won't you be.


seemple pleasures.

This is tomorrow.
This is dessert:


goat yoghurt, date syrup, cherries or some other fruit, pine nuts or some other nut.

Haven't tried this exact combination, but so far we have tried bananas and strawberries, both good, and I've tried pine nuts, walnuts, and almonds, all good. It's pretty infallible, and the first two ingredients add instant and delicious exoticism to whatever fruit and nut you use.


This isn't:

prune and tamarind chutney.

1 cup prunes, pitted,
1 onion, diced
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp cumin seed
1 tsp fennel seed
2 tsp tamarind concentrate
2 tbsp palm sugar
pinch cayenne
1 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil
salt pepper



nothing to report, volume VIX.

Hello there. I went to a mall today. It reminded me of Milan and Berlin, I guess cause those are the last places I went to the mall (for theatrical reasons!!!). An important difference would be that the gorgeous-looking food at yesterday's mall would have tasted like the food equivalent of an Ikea computer, I could tell without tasting it. I did taste the coffee, and it was crap.


Lots of Indian food being made here. By me. It's...still good but yeah ok maybe not something for every day as in my original pipe dream.

Today we went to COBRA as projected, to catch Paul Klee's childhood drawings.

OK that's not actually one. Some schoolkids of various ages also had their artwork hanging in the foyer.

Actually somehow we ended up not taking a picture of any of Klee's childhood drawings. They were semi-fascinating, but the adult ones were, yeah, better, which is good I guess.


saag paneer.

750g frozen spinach
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, chopped
thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into long julienne
1½ tbsp chopped garlic
1-2 green chiles, whole
2 tsp ground coriander
salt, to taste

250g paneer, cut into cubes
1 tsp garam masala
6 tbsp whole milk, or 4 tbsp double cream
1-2 tsp lemon juice, or to taste



cat of constant sorrow.

I don't have bad bad dreams very often. I mean, if I've been drinking too much, i'll frequently have dreams that revolve around some sort of repeating physical trauma, like trying to break up a vicious, sonically-horrible catfight while also simultaneously being stung incessantly by sizeable scorpion/spider creatures, or being slowly and unrealistically ripped apart by multiple tornadoes. But there's rarely any emotion involved in these dreams besides fear and panic (unless pain is an emotion?).

Also I never have the same dream twice in one night. But last night's double feature was like watching two cuts of the same movie. And it was HORRIBLE. It/they literally left me with a feeling I've never had before in my life: hopeless, imminent DOOM.

The gist is that I and a few close friends were on some sort of flying euthanasia/suicide plane/hotel. There may have been a bowling alley. We'd already been given whatever substance was going to kill us, but it was working very slowly. And so we were all kind of looking for each other, I guess we'd separated so that we could all "go to sleep" peacefully or whatever, but then a kind of sheer panic set in where you just needed to see everyone else. But you didn't know what room they were in.

I'm leaving out lots of things that are quickly fading from my memory, but the worst part was suddenly realizing that you wanted to say things to people and couldn't, and it was all going to be over in a matter of hours. Phlblblblbl.



under pressure.

Hey! I did something diagnostic regarding my health. I took my blood pressure. 124/83. Not perfect, I know. And yet better than I expected.


I mentioned the strong correlation between Indian food and me being happy. In that spirit, I'm going to try and make a week of Indian food. Here are some targets.

Beet Chutney.
Fish in Roasted Coconut Gravy.
Punjabi Chole (Chickpeas).
Kerala Prawn Pickle.
Pineapple Rasam.
Gajar Matar (Carrots n Peas).
Aloo Matar.




Indian food last night. How can anyone be in a bad mood with Indian food in the house? I just had some chickpeas with eggs and raita and green chiles for breakfast and I now want to do this every day.

Last night's newcomer (along with oldcomers jalfrezi, chana masala, peshwari naan, and raita) was this southern Indian thing possibly called pachadi, very unusual but comforting somehow, I guess cause it reminds me of the Keralan food I used to eat in Atlanta.

The below recipe is untested, but it's something like what I did last night.


keralan green bean pachadi. 

400 g green beans, sliced diagonally into 3 cm pieces
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 or 2 small green chillis, chopped fine
10 curry leaves (if available)
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of turmeric
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 cup dried coconut
1 cup Greek-style yoghurt
a little water if necessary


flat stanley in amsterdam.

Yes, on Friday we went around the city with a cardboard cutout of a small, mutilated boy and took pictures of him trying to enjoy himself, but it seemed like all he could ever muster was a sort of fixed, polite grimace, more polite condescension than anything resembling actual pleasure.

Nonetheless, here's the letter we had to send to Flat Stanley's 7-year-old "friend" back in America so he could share it with his class.


Hi Conor,

Thanks for sending Flat Stanley to visit us in Amsterdam! We had a great time while he was here.

It sure was a long trip for Stanley! Amsterdam is 4000 miles away from Atlanta, all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. It's the biggest city in a country mistakenly referred to by the rest of the world as Holland.

Amsterdam is a very old city, older than all of America. It was made hundreds of years ago in the year 1300 by building a dam across a river called the Amstel (named after the beer). Get it? Amstel + Dam? That means that everywhere that Flat Stanley went on this visit? It used to be underwater. And probably will be again someday in the not-so-distant future. If you think that's a scary thought, just imagine living here!

Because there is so much water in Amsterdam, there is a long tradition of building boats here. Stanley really liked looking at the old boats. He even went inside this one big old boat and looked at the cannons that sailors used to entertain themselves with on long trips.


Some boats were for blowing things up, but other boats used to carry consumer goods such as spices and gold and slaves, and when the boats would finally get to Amsterdam, this building above is where the boats would be weighed and the slaves would be dropped off. It's right next to the Red Light District, so this was very convenient for everyone if you catch my drift.

Today in Amsterdam some people still travel by boat, but most people travel by bicycle. There are more bikes than cars here!

Almost all kids ride their bikes to school, but if you're still too small to ride a bike yourself, your parents will drive you around in a dangerous-looking bike like this one. And nobody wears any helmets, even though these annoying-as-fuck scooters are scooting around at stupid, blinding speeds! Huh.

We saw a scooter crash into a building a couple of weeks ago because they were driving at an especially stupid, blinding speed and hit a pothole or something. It was great. We didn't even ask if they were OK. We almost cheered out loud (we did cheer silently). Mara said "Should we see if they're OK?" and I said "Fuck 'em," and we laughed and kept walking.

Some people use cars in Amsterdam but it's not like America where all the cars are big and new. Most of the cars here are smaller and older and usually have smaller stereos.

Stanley really liked this little old car with a picture of a monkey on the side. It's a car that belongs to this bar with a nice sunny terrace that we used to go to all the time back when Uncle Mark was drinking too much. The service was terrible there, though. You could order a beer like 3 times before it would actually show up. It was easier to just get drunk at home and then go hang out on their big terrace in the sun. Cheaper, too.


Since Amsterdam is such an old city, sometimes you can still see how people used to do things in the old days. For example, people used to wear wooden shoes!

It might not seem very comfortable, but they protect your feet from getting wet or hurt while you're planting or harvesting marijuana. They also make a nice sound when you walk on cobblestone streets, like a "clomp, clomp, clomp" sound. Imagine a whole city full of people walking around making clomping sounds! Could be great.

Stanley also liked seeing all of the old windmills in Amsterdam. A long time ago, before there was electricity, farmers used windmills for turning wheat into grain and many other kinds of backbreaking, crappy work that these days would be done by Mexicans (that's kind of a joke, so maybe soften your delivery here with a broad laugh that lets everyone know you're pretty much kidding. Then finish with, "These days in Holland windmills are used for making mustard!" and quickly move on to the next photo).

Another big thing Stanley saw was the Royal Palace. Instead of having a Black President like America has, Holland has a queen! That's a bit of an oversimplification, but it's easier to understand than the truth! This is where the queen "works" sometimes when she's in Amsterdam, though no one can really explain what kind of work she does.

Not all of Amsterdam is old, there are lots of new buildings too. Some of the new buildings look like they might be from the future or from outerspace. Look at this one! The harbor is full of these new buildings, all designed by different architects. The end result is kind of like that bar scene in Star Wars with all the funny-looking aliens jamming out on futuristic Dixieland music, but without music. Or aliens. Just buildings, silent buildings.

Stanley also saw some littler things when he was here. One day Stanley was going for a walk and suddenly he was surrounded by bronze lizards! Or was he?!? LOL..."one toke over the line" indeed, Stanley.

All in all, Flat Stanley had a fun time when he was here and he learned a lot about Amsterdam. We hope he can come back someday!



One nice discovery this past week was that Plenty, the cookbook we gifted into the HBF/tc + J-Kim household last month, seems pretty outstanding. HBF made a couple of things from it, and I made a couple of things from it, everything was fresh, interesting, and yes, well, vegetarian. So I've decided to try and work my way through the healthier bits of YO's online stuff here and here.

let's turn this thing around.

Yes, OK, back to Doomsday Rehab! First, a review of the week's drinking. Friday's Smell and Learn? Yes. Saturday's La Perla Invasione? Yes. Sunday's Easter Brunch? NO (bravo, biotch). Monday's La Perla Re-visited? Yes. Tuesday's Boomshangalang? Yes. Wednesday's Hangover Concert? Yes. Thursday's 2nd Hangover Day? NO. Friday's Flat Stanley Tour and International Relations Conference? Yes.

No serious damage done, only truly drunk moments were around 4am Tuesday night (thanks Ron). And yet it's completely obvious why this cannot be the default setting: terrible dreams, terrible sleep, pretty cranky mood, no exercise, bad diet, too much smoking. But Mark, can't you just have one civilized glass of wine with dinner? No. Sometimes. Rarely.

And so.....wagon.




Above: the aftermath of John's Bad Haircut at around 2:30am. Below: everything we did for the party.


lupini beans
spinach dip
black olives with orange and rosemary
green olives with argan oil, thyme, and fennel
blue cheese and rosemary cheese ball
cheddar and guinness cheese ball
Hilly's caesar salad deviled eggs
salpicon di panga
salmon rillettes
mackerel, beet, green apple, horseradish thing
zucchini + caramelized onion frittata a la marcella
P-Woe and K-lijn's MARQT cheese plate
Ottolenghi's squash and tahini dip
Ivo's blood orange and fennel salad
Hilly's endive and walnut and roquefort thingies

various focaccie (a Nolio and a Dennis)
Ottolenghi's stuffed mushrooms
real-ass buffalo wings (cooking instructions)
real-ass BBQ pulled pork
chorizo al sidra
puff pastry with roasted red peppers + goat cheese
maybe Ottolenghi's caramelized garlic tart

lemon meringues
lemon-apricot-rosemary sugar coookies
date pinwheels
pistachio brownies
flo braker's pain d'amande
raspberry macaroons


Morning. The floor of our apartment is littered with clumps of human hair, chicken bones, and shards of glass. Yes we had a party.

Tonight's pretty perfect hangover medicine: Cactus Truck and Action Beat (above).



christ alrighty.

Easter Sunday. Woke up, caramelized 14 cups of onions. Went to (HBF/tc) + (J-Kim)'s for brunch. Tasted many delicious things (the picture below is about half of the eventual food), including an especially lovely recipe which I will now steal. Didn't drink. Other people did.

Thanks to my photography, you can't tell that this innocent-looking brunch table actually contains some secret weapons: a couple Thoroughly Repeatable things (salpicon, carrot thingie) and a couple Yotam Ottolenghi things, which I found unusual and inspiring. So in addition to the above-highlighted (highlit?) recipe, I'm also looking at this one and this one.