little smokie.

Above photo by Carl Heller, used without permission, please let me know if I should cease and/or desist. Or do something more in the spirit of Fluxus, maybe play a flute solo from inside the vagina of a living sperm whale. Just holla is what I'm saying.


When I was little, my dad worked for Oscar Mayer. In addition to the roof over our heads, there were two primary benefits to this situation: 1) we had a large box full of toddler-sized inflatable hot dogs just sitting around the house waiting to be used for hilarious things. 2) the fridge was always stocked with smoked meat.

I wish I had access to our family's photo archive at the moment, oh the candid shots with inflatable wieners I could show you.

What made me think about all of this was remembering how excited I would get when he would bring home a package of Little Smokies:

They were these, um, pinky-sized sausages, sorry, made from turkey, chicken, and pork, and they were like candy to me. Given a choice between a Hershey's Kiss and a Little Smokie, there was no choice. There was only Little Smokie. Once I knew they were in the fridge it became difficult to think about anything else.

I seem to even remember an experimental batch from the test kitchens. They were filled with liquid processed cheddar cheese goo. Straight from the microwave? I probably don't need to tell you how good this was.


The whole point of this story originally had to do with the smoked herring that is currently in my current fridge. I like smoked things. I like smoke, frankly. And I like herring. But for some reason I've been unable to bring myself to eat this smoked herring I've been buying. This is the third time I've bought it in the last 6 weeks and I have yet to successfully eat it before it expires (why is something smoked expiring so quickly? Good question, and I don't know the answer).

It's not like it's expensive, two euro or something, but still, you start to feel even stupider than usual after the second time you've stood sighing over the garbage can, closing the lid on an untouched piece of fish. Respect your protein and all that.

So yesterday was third time's the charm and all that shit. Tonight I managed to open the package and assemble something with it. Initial indications are that it's right in my wheelhouse if that's even a saying. This attempts to also use up the other homemade pickles that are lounging around in the fridge.

Were I to serve this to someone else I would probably add another hard-boiled egg and another tbsp of mayo. And some black pepper.


sillsalad (smoked herring salad with caraway).

1 smoked herring filet, skinned and diced
1 granny smith apple, diced
1 pickled beet, skinned and diced
1/2 a pickled cucumber, diced
2 hard-boiled eggs, diced
1 scallion, diced
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 tsp caraway seeds

Assemble, refrigerate overnight, eat. Brush teeth.



anatomy of a murder.

I've made cá kho tộ before, and it was a little too sweet for the Mara, I think there wasn't enough black pepper. This time it was pretty perfect, except that I didn't really have time to totally reduce the sauce to the stickiness everyone says it's supposed to have. But it tasted goooooooooood.


vietnamese catfish in caramel sauce.

600gr catfish filets
6 tbsp fish sauce
4 tbsp palm sugar
4 tbsp minced shallots
4 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp black pepper or more to taste (very important, don't skimp)
3 tbsp caramel sauce (basically take 4 tbsp sugar and 1/2 cup water, simmer for 10 minutes, don't burn it, you'll have a little left over)
1 cup water
1 green Holland chile, thinly sliced
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp toasted coconut
4 or 5 scallions, chopped 
a little chopped cilantro


Serve with optionally coconutted jasmine rice or definitely coconutted bulgur, which I will explain soon.


beet palace.

These are Swedish, and good.


inlagda rödbetor.

3 medium-size beets
1 large onion
3/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup water
2 to 4 tbsp sugar
2 whole cloves
2 allspice berries, whole
1 tsp caraway seeds


And these are thesebut made with bean thread noodles. And peanut butter instead of peanuts. Etc.


blood, sweat, tears.

Above: deodorization prior to SG gig in Utrecht.


First the sweat: I've emitted more of it in the past 24 hours than anytime I can recently remember. It's only 85F here, but it's 85F everywhere here, including inside. Yes I'm complaining about the weather.


blood orange, beet, tarragon.

1 blood orange, juiced and zested
2 beets, roasted and peeled
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp tarragon vinegar
possibly a tiny bit of mint
possibly goat cheese
possibly a scallion
possibly pistachios



deja you.

Rather than going through the trouble of rewriting this post again and the six weeks of posts after it, how about if we all just re-read it. Or at least I should. And maybe learn something from the whole thing this time.



you said hot goo.

Above/below: Tuesday night's gig downstairs, me as Dracula, photos by Jeff Kaiser.


Another bao day here at the ranch, this time the winningest combos were the BBQ tofu (an extra day of sitting around in the sauce worked wonders) and the salmon teriyaki with pineapple salsa.

It nice to be cooking out of Momofuku more and more; we tried a half-assed version of the fried apple pie (minus the pie crust and hot goo, which is melted apple jelly) with miso butterscotch and sour cream ice cream, it was almost really good, but maybe it does need the crust to integrate all of the slightly-tweaked flavors. But the miso butterscotch itself was delicious, though it's hard to imagine what its perfect use would be.


miso butterscotch.

1/2 cup miso
1 tbsp mirin
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 tsp apple vinegar
4 tbsp softened butter

Roast miso in one thin layer on a piece of parchment paper for 20 minutes in a 150C oven. Combine everything in a food processor. Puzzle over possible uses while eating fingerfuls from the processor bowl.



chicken, or steak?

Hey there everbody, what's up. You will be noticing that not much blogging is happening here and when it is happening it is completely just going through the motions.

Case in point: so I went to roast a chicken tonight, and once again spent some time futilely looking for my perfect roast chicken recipe on this here site. As always, I couldn't find it, because as always, I've never actually posted it here.

So, here it basically is. I vary the herbs and spices, but the cooking process is essentially the same, except sometimes I only do the first two flips. Thus, at 450F: 20 minutes breast side up, 15 minutes breast side down. Then down to 375F and two more 15 minute flips.

Also: the Maroc suddenly has blood oranges, which taste more like Italy than just about anything else we can get our hands on.



jab me.

This is a picture of pure pleasure, otherwise known as gulab jamun. And it's in my house right now.


I must say, I enjoy a certain amount or manner of complaining. You know this if you've read more than one post here...I'd say it's roughly 43% complaint-oriented. And when I say I enjoy a certain manner of complaining, I mean please do it briefly and wittily. Or do it protractedly with an acute sense of the longer comedic arc. I guess make it entertaining is what I'm saying.

One kind of complaint I very rarely enjoy, however, is complaining about the weather. Especially if you live somewhere, like Amsterdam, where the weather is often somewhere between "tolerable" and "shitty". If you live in Miami Beach and it rains for two weeks in May, yes, that is worth mentioning. If you live here and it's 47F and windy in June, well...it's northern fucking Europe. Welcome.

Yes I realize that I'm complaining right now, possibly hypocritically. I also realize that strictly speaking we are in Western Europe. Whatever. This whole area of discussion was initiated by me reading a poem on a post on a blog that I'm not sure I'm supposed to be talking about, so I won't talk about it until I receive permission to do so. Until then, I just post the poem.

THROUGH winter-time we call on spring, 
And through the spring on summer call, 
And when abounding hedges ring 
Declare that winter's best of all; 
And after that there's nothing good 
Because the spring-time has not come - 
Nor know that what disturbs our blood 
Is but its longing for the tomb. 

W.B. Yeats - The Wheel


Movie(s) of the Day: Jaws (first half great and funny, nice tense lull in the middle, final half-hour really tedious and depressing, I was rooting for the shark); The Happening (on TV, first 5 minutes were arresting, but from that point on it would've been miles better if no one uttered a word...horrible, unbelievable writing, too terrible even for me to watch).


little birds have fast hearts.

Any day now we will go back to unbridled sobriety. If our first fun evening this week was perfect in its restraint, last night was...well, kind of like old times at the OT301: close the doors after the customers leave and attempt to manage an unending assembly line of incoming beers whilst talking all manner of shit until 4 in the morning. Fewer beers would've been wiser.

Tonight: wound-licking and risotto, this time pear/gorgonzola/arugula. Let you know how it goes. It was fine, good, OK, but not amazing. Not sure what would've helped besides bacon.



the dread moray eel.

Projected day off from drinking failed, but in a good way. Above: colazione dei campioni, consisting of sauteed shrimp, pineapple and scallion salsa, adobo, egg over easy, pinto beans, and a little creme fraiche.

Above: Brouwerij 't IJ has a new IPA! And it's really good. And: at only 7%, you can drink 3 of them and not be in trouble.

Below: which means that afterwards you can go to China Si-chuan Kitchen and have a couple Tsingtao to go with your Sichuan duck, Mongolian chicken, Yangtze beef, and Peking duck. I like this place: they're not shy about chilies, and the prices are reasonable (as long as you stay away from the sizzling dishes). I think the best things we had were the spicy dumpling app (hiding in the rear middle of the photo) and Mara's Yangtze beef (to the right), but it was all good. Next time we try vegetables.


pineapple and scallion salsa.

juice of one lime, possibly two...this is the important flavor
1 cup diced pineapple
1 pointy green chile from the Maroc, chopped fine
most of 1 scallion, chopped fine
1/4 cup coriander leaves, chopped
a good bit of salt to taste



the unexamined life: episode etc.

Yes, well, hello. It's been some time. I've been, hmmm, what exactly. Contemplative. But not in a bad way really. I joined a gym and have been working out every day for the past week, that's been a positive thing, one that I should keep doing for any number of reasons, but yes mostly because it seems to be improving my mood.

Not that you could tell from that last paragraph. I weighed myself for the first time in a while. I would tell you my weight for the purposes of monitoring its eventual decrease here in these pages, but it's a number that's kind of hard to believe, so I'll tell you later after it's not that number anymore.

I've been drinking, but it hasn't been every day and it hasn't gone too too badly, I'm stopping today for a few days at least.


What have I been doing. Listening to a lot of music. Playing some also, but mostly listening. To (among other things) a lot of improvised music. For pleasure.

This is a pretty big deal actually, because after our record shop destroyed our lives, I pretty much lost my love for this and several other kinds of music. But the biggest casualty was this, the music that had brought me/us here in the first place. It wasn't anything like active, conscious blame, but there was an undeniable cause and effect thing happening that seriously damaged my ability to derive pleasure from these sounds. So for example it's pretty much been 8 years since I've had any interest in locating my CD copy of Cecil Taylor's Winged Serpent. It feels like a kind of recovery, it's nice.


As a by-product of all this listening, I also find myself in the uncomfortable position of being moved by a piece of music towards which I've historically been pretty derisive. Or, OK: at some point a growing degree of musical snobbery prevented me from treating this music as anything other than a guilty pleasure from my pre-adolescent past.

But just yesterday or something, thanks to the wonder of Spotify, I heard a track that I've heard probably 1000 times before, no lie, but I hadn't actively listened to it since 1985 or something. It was on our local classic rock station CONSTANTLY for a couple years when it came out, I remember hearing it for the first time on the school bus.

And somehow, somehow, and this is the disturbing part, back then I had NO IDEA that the song was talking about me and my school bus and all the kids around me. Which it completely was, and in such an obvious and superficial way that it's doubly or triply (trebley?) mortifying that I didn't hear it. And the part of me that it's talking about is something I've been feeling some sort of complicated shame about for several years now, and when I finally heard it again the other day, I was filled with regret and nostalgia over exactly how clueless I was about my surroundings back then and for many years afterwards.

And then? Our author became too embarrassed to tell you what song it was.


OK I'll give you a lyric:

 Any escape might help to smooth 
 The unattractive truth 
 That the suburbs have no charms to soothe 
 The restless dreams of youth