Thursday, January 31, 2008


What does V.A.W. stand for?

Vegetarian. Assault. Weapon!

Here we have the V.A.W. pictured with three average-sized tomatoes...

Ok, so the average-sized tomatoes are really just average-sized cherry tomatoes. But that's still one big-ass carrot!

Here is a normal carrot...

And here is a normal carrot pictured beside the V.A.W....

I found it at work the other day. Was going to make some soup with it, but then realized it's potential for fending off intruders, so I brought it home instead.

Damn thing weighs over a pound and a half.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


B.S. - It stands for (well, you know), right? Wrong! It stands for Butternut Squash! And what do you do with Butternut Squash? You make soup with it, of course. Tasty Butternut Squash soup. With Brown Sugar cinnamon croutons! Mmmmm, tasty! And that ain't no B.S., if you know what I mean.

B.S. soup is ridiculously easy to make. It's so simple that I almost didn't want to post it here because that would be like writing a post about how to boil a pot of water; seems too obvious. But obvious or not, here it is, and it really is so easy, and so good, and it doesn't take long to make at all. And the croutons are a great snack by themselves! Holy cow, not only could you eat them like cereal for breakfast, but they'd also make an awesome stand-in for popcorn in the evening.
Now, for some strange reason, almost every B.S. soup recipe I've ever come across is made with chicken stock, which I don't get. Why use it? I know, I know, you want a savory liquid of some sort to be added to the mix, but why is chicken stock the hands down favorite choice? I'm not saying poultry and butternut squash don't go together, just not in my B.S. soup. (I think Emeril's even got a version made with sausage, which, not surprisingly, I've heard is not very good.) Maybe I'm just weird or something, but I don't even use veggie stock.
Here's my roster (in no particular order of amount or importance):

Butternut Squash
Fresh ginger
Brown sugar
Heavy cream
More butter
2% milk

I think that's everything. (I made it one time with sour cream for some reason, but didn't really notice much difference, so I figured I'd leave it off the list.) Nutmeg, allspice, cloves- all probably very tasty too, but I usually opt out on those. Definitely worth experimenting with, though.
Ok, first the extremely short version- pretty much all you have to do is mince up some ginger...

and heat it in lots of butter in a big 'ol pot until it's fragrant...

and then throw everything else in...

until it tastes the way you want it to. Which is pretty much how I do it. But let me break it down just a little bit more.
As you can see in the photos, I use the frozen cube kind of squash. Mainly because that's what they give us at the restaurant. At home, if I had time, I'd go for the fresh stuff and carve it up myself. (I haven't actually done it yet, so I'm not sure, but I think you'd get better carmelization in the oven when you bake it than with the little frozen cubes.) The bags we get are 2 kilos each (4.4 lbs) and I use 3 bags per batch. It really is not as much as it sounds like. Usually works out to around 2 gallons of soup (which also is not as much as it sounds like!). Ok, so I take that 6 kilos of squash and spread it evenly on two sheet pans and pop it into a 500 degree oven. Takes around 30-40 minutes, I think. Whenever it gets all soft, and the bits around the edges of the pan start to get brown and burned, like this...

While that's doing its thing in the oven, I get out the big-ass pot. I think mine's a 5-gallon job- more than I need, but in my kitchen it's either too much or not enough. Throw in a bunch of butter (I use unsalted 'cause that's what we have on hand, but I don't think it matters much) and toss in the ginger. In the first ginger pic up top, that's something like 6 tablespoons. Possibly a bit too much, but I liked it anyway. Heat it until it's nice and fragrant, but don't saute it- you don't want it to brown like the squash in the above pic. Check on the squash in the oven to make sure it looks all pretty, like this-

When it's ready, take some and put it on a spatula and try to get artsy with it, like this-

Then toss it all in the pot and start adding the rest of the goodies, like this-

As you can see, I used a fair amount of butter- that's about a half-pound showing, but I think I added more later. As for how much to add of what, there really is no magic formula here. I use heavy cream because we always have a lot of it on hand, and I use the 2% milk to cut it down a little bit. (I'm sure half and half alone would work great, but we usually only have that in those little teaspoon-sized single serving disposable cups, and I'm not about to open dozens and dozens of those!) I never measure anything, really. Just eyeball it. And I usually don't even taste it until I've added a little of everything!

And somehow it all turns out delicious.

But here's the main guideline I try and follow- be careful about going overboard on stuff. I love cinnamon (and butter and cream and salt...) but when I make this, I want the flavor of the squash to be the star of the show, and everything else to accent it. So I just try and go kind of light on everything, at least at first. You can always add more later. Usually I add the cream first, then the milk. Then comes the honey, salt, and cinnamon. Then more butter. I have brown sugar and cayenne on the list, but a lot of times I don't bother to add them. If I do, it's only very little of each. I find that most of the adjusting I need to do is with the milk and cream. I want it creamy, but not too rich; thin, but not watery.
You can use your immersion blender on this one if you like, but it mixes up so easily that a regular old wire whip will also do the job no problem.

Then, when you get it exactly to your liking and it tastes sooo perfect that you just can't stand it and you really have to eat it now or you'll get cranky and hit somebody- pour some into a bowl, bust out those croutons you made earlier, and dive in...

or pose it for a photo, like this-

(It helps if you have a cool looking wire table to set it on.)

Ok, about those croutons...

I'll post about them at a later date, but they're very simple to make. Here's a list of ingredients I use:

White bread (a sturdy kind, like a hoagie bun)
Brown sugar
White sugar


Tuesday, January 22, 2008


*Note* - although I think the photo qualifies as SFW (no nudity), I know some people who would argue that any image of Rachael Ray would be definitely NSFW.

I find this to be disturbing and exciting at the same time. Disturbing because somehow it just doesn't seem right; exciting because somehow it also does... (She did 5 pics. Links to them can be found here. If you're into that sort of thing, I mean; which I highly doubt, but you never know.) I tell you what, though- if I ever hear Alton Brown is posing in Cosmo or some other such magazine, I think I'm going to have to deny ever having liked both him and the Food Network.

(FYI- FHM = For Him Magazine)

(And what's going on with her teeth in that photo, anyway...?)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Slow and Low, that is the Tempo...

Ok, so... I want to pretty this place up a little bit with some pics, but being about 7 years behind the times on the technology front, I still use a film camera (and what a fine one it is. Definitely way more camera than I can handle. But it is still a film camera). So I have to buy the film, take between 24-36 shots, get it developed, then cry because all my photos suck, then repeat, hopefully with better results. All of this takes time. Actually, buying the film takes the longest. I don't get out much. I actually just ordered 10 rolls from Adorama because I figured it'd be faster than me going to the store to buy it. True fact. So things might be a little slow around here until it comes in and I can get some photos taken. But I have some good stuff planned for when it does: gumbo, peanut sauce, pozolé, butternut squash soup, and a few other things. And maybe some totally random reviews of kitchen products that I use too.

Also, we both know you want those chips. I just need an address to send them to. Doesn't have to be yours, but it probably should be that of someone who doesn't like spicy food. Otherwise there might not be any left when you go to get them. Seriously. I can't even make them at home anymore when my brother is around. I swear he's one of those Transformers, except he turns into a vacuum cleaner. His hand, looking like a backhoe, scoops up more chips than seems possible, and then into the Hoover Black Hole they go. It really is a sight.
(It is safe to use your own address, though; I promise to send chips and not spam.)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

John's Addiction: A real-life fairy tale

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, there lived this kid. Let's call him John, just for story's sake. John lived in a boring little town, in a boring little state, where he ate boring old food. Actually, the food wasn't old, it was just boring; had no kick, you might say. One day, John decided to take a break from his boring routine of doing whatever it was he did, and head down to the local general store- Gordon's Market, it was called- and poke around inside, see if there was some junk food or something he could buy. At some point or other, whether it was on his way in or out I don't know, he happened to look down at the chip rack near the door and noticed a small red bag of something new. Something he hadn't seen before. Something called... "Hot Jalapeño". But because he'd had no prior exposure to the Spanish language, he utterly and completely wrecked the pronunciation of "Jalapeño", pronouncing the first half like the word "gallop", but with a "j", and dropping the tilde off of the "ñ" - resulting in "jallopeeno". (This was a very long time ago, though, and he has since learned his lesson and continues to laugh about it to this day.) "Hot Jalapeño", he thought. "Intriguing." (He knew they must really be hot, as there were little red flames coming off of the word "hot" on the bag.) Now, keep in mind that due to his surroundings and what-not, his tastebuds were the equivalent of that ninety pound weakling who gets sand kicked in his face by the bully on the beach in those old Charles Atlas ads. But, he was still young and foolish enough to not be aware of this. Plus they were only 99 cents! So he bought himself a bag and went on his way to wherever the heck he ended up going that day. Along the way, he started in on the chips, but got no further than two or three in. All of a sudden,
his mouth was on fire!
And he was in love...
Fast forward nearly 20 years. Hot Jalapeño chips have been MIA for well over a decade, and John is now a tired old man, embittered by years of searching for a suitable replacement. Searching, but never finding. It's just been one disappointing wannabe after another. Either no heat, or crappy flavor, but mostly a combination of the two. Sure, there's those Tostito's with Hint of Lime, which are really quite tasty, (addicting, almost) but even they can't compare with the legendary Hot Jallopeenos.
Fast forward a couple more years. John had previously played around with making his own version of Hot Jalapeño by taking some random packet of ground peppers he'd gotten hold of and, borrowing a page from Tostitos' cookbook, mixed in the spice packet from a Shrimp-Lime Ramen noodle package, and then sprinkled that on some chips and baked them in the oven. Not all that great. But they did have potential. It was at this point in time that Fate smiled upon John. And so he smiled back and asked her what she was doing later that night. She slapped his face and called him rude, saying that she was just trying to be polite, but that if he must know, she had a date. With Destiny. (It figures...) So with that, John cashed in what little karma he had saved up, bought himself another beer, and headed home to plot his next move. On the way home he happened to run into Fate's younger half-sister, Luck, with whom he'd had an on-again, off-again relationship for years. Taking a chance, he smiled at her. And... and she smiled back! And thus began...
a new legend...

John's Addiction

Award-winning Jalapeño-lime tortilla chips.
(scroll down about 1/4 of the page. I'm under the snack/sweet heading)

Ok, first off, I really do put that much spice mix on my chips. I like 'em with flavor and I don't skimp on it the way all the commercial chip makers do. I didn't add more just for the photo, nor did I spend all day with a professional photographer getting just the right shot, and then fixing it up even more in Photoshop. This is how they look every time I make them. Personally, I think these chips are pretty much unbelievable. And I think you will too. I've already shared them with all my friends locally; now I want to share them with my out-of-town friends. So if you're on my mutuals list over on Stumbleupon and would like to try them, just contact me in one way or another and tell me where to send them, and I'll ship 'em on out! (On me, of course.)
Plan on it taking me about 3 weeks to mail them.

If you're
not on my mutuals list, well... better luck next time? No... just contact me with an offer that I can't refuse; I'm sure we can work something out.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Of Knuckle Sandwiches and Hurts Donuts

Me and my buddy Nathaniel (a.k.a. "Buster!")

Now here's a guy who loves his food. He ain't fat, but he's big.
And strong. And he makes for good wrestling practice. Knowing how much he likes to eat, I'll often say something like "Hey Nathaniel, you look hungry. I've got a couple knuckle sandwiches with your name on them..." To which he'll often reply, almost under his breath, with something like "I'll give you a hurts donut..."

And then I proceed to pound him into the floor.

He really seems to like it, which leads me to believe that he's letting me win. And even if he's not, he's only 8. Sure, I can take him now; but what about when he's 12?

I think that's going to be a whole different story.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Olive Garden

"The McDonald's of Italian food."

That's pretty much all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Peasant food

You really can't go wrong with this one. Frank's Red Hot kicks major ass.

Cook up some pasta- any kind will do (al dente, if you please).
Turn on your cast iron skillet and fry up said pasta in loads of butter and a couple hefty pinches of salt and pepper, until it's all crunchy and brown and burned in places. Toss into a bowl and douse with Frank's Red Hot. Crack open your favorite soda and prepare for tastebud Nirvana.

The simplest food really is the best.