23.9.13

chickie.

So yes, a regular reader pointed out that it's been quiet here. Nothing to worry about, I just have a few more "Draft" posts hanging around than usual. And I spent a few days being pleasantly distracted by the new hire at Megasubtiel.

I've made a couple of things worth talking about lately...one was a butternut squash, spinach, almond and smoked cheese gratin I made today, will post the recipe in a bit. The below happened a couple of days ago, based on the thing from Je Mange La Ville that Mara makes. I served it with potato mash and roasted runner beans, super nice.

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kind of southwestern beer-braised chicken with sage and bacon.

2 tbsp olive oil, more as needed
1 kg chicken legs or 4 kippenbouten
salt and pepper

2 medium onions, cut in half, then in very thin crosswise slices
2 cups dark beer
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp powdered bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried sage
pinch smoked paprika
a healthy pinch pul biber
i would like to try a pinch of cumin seed in here next time

1 tbsp unsalted butter
a bunch of fresh mushrooms
125g lean bacon
2 green Holland chiles, or more, fire-roasted

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22.9.13

spanish, haarlem.

















Last night I dreamt that our house was infested with bears. One big one and five smaller ones. They were pretty cute. The Bear People had to come and get them in a bunch of UPS-looking trucks.

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DJ Deathclam and I didn't really go anywhere together this summer due to budgetary (and other) concerns, so we decided to compensate with an all-too-rare Moops Night Out in Haarlem, only a 15-minute train ride but definitely a different world than Amsterdam, slower, emptier, cheaper.

Above, walking into town. Below: Coconuts for Sex, self-explanatory; a vintage or faux-vintage Jim Beam whiskey jar/jug at In Den Uiver.

























Then a bit of chomping was in order, an unexpectedly super and super-affordable Basque meal at Patxaran. I'd say it's pretty much worth the €5 euro train trip to Haarlem to eat here. Pinxtos are €2, €3, €4, or €5 each, and then there's a small but non-standard tapas menu.

We had four pinxtos, three pictured below: goat cheese with tomato, walnut, and a cube of quince gelée; pantumaca con jamón ibérico (tomato bread with ham, sounds simple but they were so mfkn good we considered filling Mara's bag with them); and the only less-than-stellar bite of the night, Little Gem lettuce with what was advertised as an anchovy cream but tasted like blueberry cream, edible but confounding and more importantly on the boring side. Next, an unpictured one, jamon and crispy asparagus with something like a goat cheese bechamel, also served on their terrific bread.

Then we ordered two tapas off the specials chalkboard: navajas, basically the best razor clams ever, just grilled with lemon and garlic and maybe a dash of white wine, totally great. And real, non-industrial calamares, perfectly fried. The whole meal, including three glasses of more than decent wine: €42. Then a beer at the Jopenkerk. Then the excellent Shannon & The Clams for free @ the Patronaat Cafe. Then homie. Put one in ze win column for Moop.







20.9.13

marathon, man.

I just had a marathon dream. Not about running a marathon, ha ha ha ha ha ha, that would be way way less realistic than the dream I did have: it was O'Neill's birthday, and he and basically everyone we'd ever hung out with were on some kind of celebration circuit adventure around a dreamworld Atlanta. I unfortunately was like an hour behind them schedule-wise, and this must have been pre-cellphone days b/c the only way I could ever find out where they actually were was to follow one step behind them. Come to think of it, have you ever dreamed about using a cell phone? I myself have not.

So it was like this: I go to the first place they were supposed to be, Johnny's Pizza, which used to be managed by O'Neill's sister-in-law J (who, fun fact, he slept with once or twice in real life long before she was officially related to him, you didn't hear it from me). But the O'Neill party had just vamoosed: an empty table for 20 or something was sitting there still steaming or possibly smoldering, having obviously just been vacated by a pack of blunted savages, chairs overturned, pizza crusts and empty beer pitchers strewn everywhere.

And J was like (you have to know her voice, almost every word is at least two syllables), "Oh heyyyy, they just left, yeah, they're over at Eric and Kim's now". I'm thinking oh super, that's only a half-hour away, and I turn and head for the door but then I'm all wait where do they even live? I've only been there once and that was maybe ten years ago and I was on some serious drugs at the time, so I turn around to ask J to remind me but by then she had disappeared into the back to go perform dreamland pizza parlor management tasks and the waitress would only tell me that she "couldn't be reached right now".

And on and on, place to place. It was a complete scavenger hunt: after driving for hours and finally finding Eric and Kim's, of course the party had moved on, but Kim had been left behind to wash an enormous pile of unrealistically dirty dishes and told me glumly "yeah they went over to Churchill's to meet Al (her brother, dead) and Mason but that was only for one drink". She handed me a warm can of Miller Lite, already opened.

I took a swig and grimaced. Why did they insist on going to Churchill's? They would always pick the oddest, least cool places to drink. In real life I marveled at this for years, but I now understand that they just carefully selected corrupt, rundown places within drunk-driving distance where they would be likely to befriend the disgruntled bartender (free drinks!) and/or would be highly unlikely to run into anyone they knew who wasn't a total alcoholic.

Anyway at some point I ended up on foot, downtown, but not in a big-building part, in a deceptively rural-seeming part (these exist), where I ran into Cynthia Nixon (Mara and I had half-watched a Sex and the City rerun just before bed), who I totally, completely don't have a thing for at all but she really looked the best she'd ever looked, rather unrealistically good. Almost actually in flames, very nearly on fire.

She was also surprisingly friendly. It was getting late and after a few minutes she confided that she was lonely, so lonely, thus although the clock was ticking and I was falling behind schedule, she eventually talked me into an exploratory kiss. I totally expected this to be a pleasant turn of events, but she tasted exactly and shockingly like fresh blood, super-realistic and very unsettling, and so while being profoundly repulsed I then yes also understood why she was so lonely and I felt quite bad for her.

So I said something semi-reassuring like "let's try this again later" and then we immediately ran into Occhalini (also dead in real life) and Berrell on the deserted road outside a third unrememberable friend's house who was on vacation with his parents. Cynthia and I decided to try and use the bathroom there and coincidentally see if we could find a drink, we were supposed to be celebrating right?

But on our way in we ended up accidentally letting the dogs out, or so we thought, but then I saw a doggie door, so maybe the dogs were supposed to be out anyway? There was no way to know for sure, but then screams from outside suggested probably not: the dogs were now out in the road, cars whizzing by frantically. Of course one of the dogs was Trinka, my first dog.

Cynthia and I ended up somehow putting the dogs back inside but she wanted to take with her this trashy antique wooden cupboard which is actually one of our coffee tables in real life. And on and on. I only eventually caught up with everyone at O'Neill's parents' house at like 5 in the morning. The sink was full of dirty dishes crusted with a bolognese sauce, the only non-microwaveable food O'Neill knew how to cook for many years (not counting these soup sandwiches).

It took me about an hour to say hello to everyone (dreamtime), it was quite the rogue's gallery. By the time I got to O'Neill, I found him standing in his finished basement looking quite satisfied, with a chewed-up cigar and a giant tumbler of gin and ice, which I took from him without a word and drank in one sustained gulp, saying "let me freshen this up for you" and heading for the refrigerator.

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Questions for discussion:

1) Is it really so unrealistic for me not to have a cellphone in America?
2) Why would everyone choose to go over to Eric and Kim's anyway?
3) Why do I continue to have "romantic" dreams about women I'm definitely not consciously attracted to IRL? This is a first for me. Mirtazapine, I'm looking at you.
4) Exactly what am I doing watching Sex and the City?
5) etc.

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19.9.13

gingerly.

Since you know by now that we loves us some dieting around here, how bout let's start an anti-cancer diet, what you got to say about that? Why, you might ask? Why not, I might reply. What exactly does an anti-cancer diet mean? We don't know really.

We do know that turmeric is almost definitely a good fixer-upper, and that it becomes exponentially more bioavailable when you combine it with black pepper and olive oil.

This here is a recipe that ALREADY HAS MOST OF THAT SHIT IN IT (no disrespeck but we was Thug Kitchen long before they was any such thing as a Thug mfkin Kitchen). It's from Cradle of Flavor, and it's for Singaporean black pepper crab, but I'm betting it would be pretty righteous on anything that used to live in the water. 

There's also a super-long version of acar kuning in Cradle of Flavor (more turmeric and useful rhizomes), I'm wondering if a simpler one would do. 

AFTER A LITTLE GOOGLING: No, they're all complicated. This one looks good too.
AFTER A LITTLE TASTING: The below recipe is awesome. But really, unless you "like spicy food", this is probably not for you. I myself am going to keep making it until I'm sick of it. 

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singaporean black pepper paste

4 tbsp black peppercorns
8 cloves garlic
3 inches fresh turmeric, peeled with a spoon or 2 tsp dried
3 inches fresh ginger, peeled
3/4 tsp salt

3 tbsp mild olive oil

3/4 cup water

Basically, process the five ingredients in a food processor. Fry the paste in the oil over medium-low heat, about 5 to 7 minutes or until the garlic no longer smells raw. 

If you're going to be adding seafood to this now, add the water and your seafood and cook til it's done. Otherwise just keep it as a seasoning paste and use it over the next week or so.

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18.9.13

defroster.


















Above: tonight's highly, highly successful Spinach Delivery Mechanism, which involved sauteeing bacon, sage, onions, and dried mulberries (expensively subbing for raisins) then slightly wilting the spinach in that melange. Throw some pecans in there and this would certainly work as a side for catfish at some point, hold on I'm having a brainstorm, catfish coated with the spices from Damon Lee Fowler's mama's sage and onion cornbread stuffing (cornmeal, black pepper, sage, lemon zest, nutmeg, celery salt).

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I kind of feel like I've come out of the defroster, if there is such a thing. I guess there is. It was a weird week, full of bubbling energy and no emotions, I felt more like myself but simultaneously like someone I've never felt like before. I think that by now, Day Six or something, things have settled...I'm going to give it a few days of non-alcohol-related free time to see how the nights are, and of course I'm sure I'll say something about the results of that experiment here.

So what else: Homesick Texan's carrot-habanero condiment was delicious and healthy so I'll post my adaptation of it below. It's nowhere as spicy as you'd think it would be given the ingredients, and even your first taste of it sets off a bit of a panic attack ("this is where it starts?"), but the usual slow fade-in of heat never arrives, it's just pleasantly piquant. No idea why, though I read somewhere that the smaller you cut your habanero, the less spicy it is.

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salsa carote. 

1 tbsp olive oil
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters
1/4 sweet onion
3 habanero peppers, cut in half with most seeds removed
3 cloves of garlic, cut in half
Juice of one lime
2 tbsp cider vinegar
Salt to taste

So, saute the carrots in the olive oil for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes, garlic, onion, and habaneros and cook for 5-7 minutes more. The main thing is for the carrots to be just cooked enough and for your garlic to not be burned. Then puree everything to your desired consistency. 

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12.9.13

return to me.























Mmmmraaaagh (yawns, stretches). Oh (tjap tjap)....hi everybody. What year is it? Goodness, that was some dream I had. I dreamt that I was asleep for four months (yawns, rubs eyes). And I was really hungry the whole time. What's that you say? No dream, you say? Hmm.

Yes, so. Day 2 of mini-mirtazapine is continuing where Day 1 left off. Day 1 was basically like someone replaced my blood with Red Bull. I'm down to 7.5mg now, and if it stays like this, this being: feeling like "myself", minus most crippling neuroses, plus bags of macho brain power and enough energy to consider cleaning things UNBIDDEN...well there's no way this can last. But since I have also been sleeping 6 hours a night, we'll keep it like this for a bit and take one o' them "wait and see" approaches.

Lunch, if i feel like it: un petit portion du cornmeal catfish + a slice of smoked gouda (to emulate actually-smoked catfish) + Homesick Texan's carrot-habanero salsa, lots of it. Still thinking about food, yes, but not in the same zombie "must eat brains" way that I was.

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9.9.13

braketime.

 

Above: the Zeedijk at sunset Friday night.

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After a three-party weekend, it's time for a little clean livin' methinks. Green apples! Ginger stuff! Cabbage and other farty-smelling cruciferous things! Oily fish! Lots of chili peppers. Cottage cheese and peaches for whenever real decadence seems in order.

Today is mirtzapine reduction day. Of course last night I had the best sleep ever, revolving around an amazing dream in which (deep breath): I was part of a crew that landed on a vast alien world, yes, like Alien/Aliens/etc but apparently not dangerous at all, although one crew member and I (Maggie Gyllenhaal, who I do not have a thing for) got separated from the rest (of course), and encountered this one sort of friendly but not-functioning-correctly cowboy alien, and he eventually kind of passed out, so (as anyone would in this situation) we carefully popped his cowboy-hatted head off (like a Lego) and underneath the head was a 0.5 liter (approx) flask of thick dark red viscous liquid, which of course we drank, and then we became (no pun intended) spaced out for a while and the rest of the crew couldn't find us, and then we wandered around kind of drunkenly a bit, giggling and generally having a good time, until we stumbled across a set of computer screens in which we were represented as video game characters, and on the screens we could then see where the rest of the crew was, so we physically located them and I immediately told the ship's doctor that we drank the red stuff and he looked horrified (understandably, in retrospect) and called off the mission (everyone back to the ship!) but then he immediately got a text message on his mobile telling him that he'd had his medical license revoked and he said he'd been "scrubbed out" (a surgical joke! in a space dream!) and looked rather cross, then Maggie and I went over to a semi-secluded area and somehow exchanged space suits and then went back to the video game screens and started killing aliens that way, it resembled Robotron X quite a bit.

At least that's the part that I can explain. Many many other things happened that I only sort of remember. Mirtazapine, I'll miss some things about you.

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5.9.13

life, lemons, etc.

















Combine some of this homemade lemonade with an equal amount of ice-cold seltzer water/club soda/fizzy water of choice and you might even forget you're not drinking alcohol. It's that good!!! (INSERT INFINITE LOOP OF SMILEY EMOTICONS HERE).

OK but it really is really good. Especially on a mthrfkin hot-ass day in the middle of September. We went to see the Henry Moore shit at the Rijksmuseum b/c it's free and we've been meaning to see it and we almost forgot about it. We were going to go to Boca's after but then lemonade started sounding really really good, and we kind of became fixated on it, like nothing was going to satisfy us except lemonade. And there was no way we could afford to pay anyone else in this city to make us the amount of real-lemon, real-sugar, ice-cold lemonade we would need.

So we rode back home to Ali Baba (formerly Interfood) and bought a bunch of cheap lemons and other bargain vegetables, and rendered those vegetable bitches into slight variations on the ol' Fish Taco Condiment Array, including a real slaw with mayo. Plus yes we made lemonade, and it was goooooooooooood.

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lemonade.

1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup raw sugar

2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (5 or 6 lemons? maybe more)
3 or 4 cups water

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habanero guacamole.

3 ripe avocados
1/2 large red onion, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
0.5 to 1 entire habanero pepper, seeded, deveined and minced
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tomato, cut into chunks
salt to taste!!!

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napa slaw.

2 cups shredded Napa cabbage (or spitskool)
2 tbsp good European mayonnaise, sorry it's elitist but it's totally true
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
2 scallions, minced fine
2 tbsp cilantro, minced
salt and pepper to taste
























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3.9.13

DIY.























We just reminded ourselves of the most perfectly illustrative example of why I don't do home improvement projects.

It was back in our suburban Atlanta compound, late 1990s, and we were "having guests". I have no idea who, but they were sufficiently important that we would be cleaning the toilets (in no way am I suggesting that we don't always clean our toilets before "having guests").

Anyway. Mara was doing 312 things simultaneously and I was just...not doing anything useful. This was before we'd really figured out how to assign housework tasks, so basically I would just do one useless thing of my choosing for an hour, like "organize the CDs", while Mara would do everything other damn thing that actually needed doing. She was also handling most of the cooking at this point in our relationship as well, so you can imagine that by the time the first guest rang the doorbell, she pretty much wanted to kill me.

This particular evening, I was finally starting to wise up, and requested that she "please give me something useful to do so that you don't kill me", and she said over her shoulder on her way to mow the lawn or paint the porch or something, "honey why don't you clean the bathrooms, thank you".

Awesome. I can do this. I went into the kitchen to retrieve the "bathroom cleaner", a toxic spray rather famous in the minds of Americans my age because of their TV commercials, which advertise that this product's "scrubbing bubbles" do all the work "so you don't have toooooooooooo". In the commercial this last sentence is heroically bellowed by one of the animated scrubbing bubbles as he slides down the now-sparklingly-clean drain, the bellowing bubble rather pleased with himself and decidedly upbeat despite the fact that he is almost definitely about to end up in some kind of permanent sewage situation.

Discursive writing can be exhausting, I apologize. So I went into the kitchen. I reached under the sink to grab the can of Scrubbing Bubbles spray. I went into the downstairs bathroom and thoroughly doused the toilet with the poisonous foam and then left the room so that the Scrubbing Bubbles could do their work, "so I wouldn't have tooooooo" etc etc etc.

After who knows how much time, I guess the amount of time it took me to forget and then remember that I was in the middle of an important task, I went back into the bathroom with a roll of paper towels and confidently/optimistically gave the seat a quick swipe. My paper towel stopped immediately in its tracks, almost as if it had been, well, glued to the seat.

For a second or two I seriously thought I was having a stroke or other major brain incident: I'd used these Scrubbing Bubbles before, so my expectations were high, I knew how to do this...and these results were so thoroughly illogical and opposite....it just didn't make any kind of sense.

Maybe I'd applied it wrong? Was that possible? Maybe it was past its "use-by" date? Who knows. I looked at the can to check the instructions. As you can probably already imagine, it was not in fact the Scrubbing Bubbles can. It was a can of Spray Mount, which, according to the 3M website, is an "artist's aerosol adhesive, that bonds practically any lightweight material instantly, yet allows work to be lifted and repositioned."

Needless to say, much hilarity ensued around the perfection of not only this failure but the resulting brainstorm of purposely using Spray Mount on all of the toilet seats and seeing what our guests had to say about it afterwards.

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