Saturday, December 29, 2007

Better than what I Wanted

TFR got me the skillet I asked for for Christmas, along with the Bird's Beak Paring Knife, and a few non-culinary items. My mother decided to send gift money and let me pick for myself. These days, it's much easier for her, and quite frankly, I am not put out by it -- never mind curmudgeonly grumbling about it not being as "personal" as an actual gift. The fact is my mother has gone far above and beyond in showing me her love my entire life -- no gift is going to add anything more, no lack of one can diminish that.

So anyway, I decided that thanks to my mom, I'd get the book I asked for. I was also going to buy the fillet knife, but when I went to order the book, I ran into a dillemma. The book was $23 and some change, and fell just short of qualifying for free shipping. So I looked around Amazon a bit longer, and found this. A better fillet knife than the forschner, and for a similar price. Now, if I'd bought the Forschner I could have received a 10% discount from the cutlery store. But when you consider the $2.86 shipping I avoided paying on the book by buying the knife too, it equals a 10.8% savings -- and I end up paying about the same and getting a better knife -- and one made here in Oregon, to boot!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Santa Claus is Coming to Town Going to Drown

This is the kind of crap you miss the chance to mock when you're busy with school.

My friend Brian (aka Lurch) told me about this first -- a speech by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels in which he warns kids at a tree-lighting ceremony that if they don't help fight global warming, Santa and his reindeer (and presumably the elves too) would drown.

No, really. You can read the mayor's entire letter to Santa over at Michelle Malkin's Blog.

Wow. Where to begin.

I could go off on a rant about fear-mongering, about traumatizing little kids in order to indoctrinate them to your politics, about commandeering a public festivity for your own ends... but that's been done, in spades, by everyone who's commented on this at Michelle's, and by other bloggers.

That WAS, in fact, my first inclination when I heard about this story. While I haven't been able to find a transcript of the speech itself, Lurch heard it and says that Nickels included a dig at Bush in the speech, inplying that global warming was somehow worse because of the President. If that's true, that's the point where the reprehensible aspects of Nickels screed and the laughable parts overlap. It's bad enough to use a tree-lighting ceremony as a bully pulpit for advancing your own agenda regarding global warming, but when your fanatical adherence to the Party Line regarding Global Warming collides with BDS, you start to become self-lampooning.

Not that there isn't plenty to mock even without any reference to the President. First of all there's the irony in the fact that the mayor was offering flourescent bulbs to replace older incandescent bulbs -- missing the memo about the dangers of the mercury present in the ballast of flourescent bulbs. LED bulbs are even more efficient AND safer for the environment.

Or there's Nickels' comment in the letter, "Reindeer fly, but can they swim, too? I for one would rather not find out."

Ummmm... Your honor... Reindeer swim across rivers and bays every year during their annual migrations... I know your comment was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but given the earnestness with which you present your little screed as scientific truth, your lack of knowledge of such a well-known fact really does make you look a bit silly.

Oh, screw it. There's just so much here, and I'm still burned out. I don't have it in me to go off like I'd want to. Instead of cursing the dark, I think I'll just light a light in it.

Unless doing so puts the Easter Bunny at risk, too....

Dear Santa

With money tight in our family this year, for the sake of TFR I've limited mysef to relatively inexpensive items on my wish list, though I suspect there's a pattern to them:

Forschner 8" fillet knife
a new 8" nonstick skillet
Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
a bird's beak paring knife (There's a Messermeister for sale for $5 at Hartwick's, and I wouldn't use it enough to warrant a pricier one -- great stockijng stuffer, hint hint...)
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
an immersion blender
The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

That Which Does Not Kill Me Will Only Serve to Make Me Wish it Had

For all my loyal readers and fellow bloggers, many of whom I consider friends I've not yet met, I appreciate the fact that you've stuck with me through a very tough, very busy term. Things aren't over just yet -- I have a final later today and one tomorrow -- but I can see light at the end of the tunnel, and have some reason to believe it's not an oncoming train, though heaven knows I feel like I've been hit by one. Getting a bad chest and head cold the week of finals sucks.

At this point I don't have any work lined up for the break, so I may be able to blog a bit more often than normal. I kinda look forward to that.

But there's been some ups lately too. In my Menu Management class, I got an A on the rough draft of my project, up from a C on the proposal stage. It consisted of a menu for a fictional restaurant, including 5 appetizers, 6 entrees, 3 desserts, and 5 beverages, plus recipes, costing, and prices for all items.

I also did well on the final combined project for my Garde Manger class and Buffet & Banquet class. Early on in the term, we were split into teams of two and given an hor d'oeuvre to test. Then we were informed that at the end of the term (last week), we'd be making 200 portions of our hors d'oeuvre for an open house at the school. My partner and I got off to a rocky start. We were assigned smoked trout mousse, and had to decide for ourselves what sort of hors d'oeuvre to make out of it. The test run used trout that had been smoked in an earlier lab by the whole class, and the mouse recipe right out of the book. It sucked. It was way too salty and smoky and runny. But hey, we had half a term to fix it, right?

Chef Clive, my instructor, hit one one part of the solution to our problem -- the trout itself wasn't that good to begin with. I also decided that the other part of the solution was to increase the aspic gelee (gelatin flavored with stock consommee, in this case fish stock) and whipped cream in the recipe, for more body and firmness.

Then my partner dropped out of the program, so it was all on me. The only major help I got was when some classmates threw together the dough for my bread.

So last week, while also dealing with my regular class load, I came in between classes and smoked the trout and baked off my bread. The trout was a smashing success -- part of the solution was a sweeter brine, the other part was to use a milder smoke -- the original had been smoked in hickory, which while fine for barbecue, is too strong for something as delicate as trout. Instead, I used a combination of alder and apple. The bread also cooked off perfectly.

The day of the event, I was at school at 9:30, worked through until plating at 3:00, and produced a hit: smoked trout mousse canapes on toasted brioche, garnished with a dill sprig and a slice of radish soaked in white wine. They were divine. The wine was the first thing to hit your mouth. The acid in the wine softened the bite of the radish, but also cut some of the richness of the mousse, which was perfectly smooth and firm, with a salty sweet smokiness. The brioche was slightly crips, and its butteriness added to the mouth feel from the mousse.

One of my chef instructors took a picture, as soon as she emails it to me, I'll post it to the blog.

Feast your eyes:

Amendment XXI

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
Ratified December 5, 1933
Thus ended one of the (if not THE) biggest, costliest, and most tragic experiments in Nanny State governing in the history of this country. So this evening, pourt yourself a stiff drink, and raise a glass to freedom.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Quote of the Week

"I don't like repeat offenders; I like DEAD offenders."

- Ted Nugent

- A Tip[ of the Toque to Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


(A follow-up to Well Hung)

The pancetta came out nicely, and this is the first thing I made with it:

It's a Cobb NApoleon. The bottom layer is tomato, then chicken, then green onions, then hard boiled egg, then the pancetta, then mixed baby greens that have been chiffonaded and bound with an agave-dijon dressing. The salad is garnished with blue cheese and the plate with more of the dressing and blue cheese.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Veteran's Day Message


Anything else I say would be superfluous.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

32 Years Ago Today

Resquiat im Pacem:
Michael E. Armagost
Third Mate
Iron River, Wisconsin

Fred J. Beetcher
Superior, Wisconsin
Thomas D. Bentsen
St. Joseph, Michigan
Edward F. Bindon
First Asst. Engineer
Fairport Harbor, Ohio
Thomas D. Borgeson
Maintenance Man
Duluth, Minnesota
Oliver J. Champeau
Third Asst. Engineer
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
Nolan S. Church
Silver Bay, Minnesota
Ransom E. Cundy
Superior, Wisconsin
Thomas E. Edwards
Second Asst. Engineer
Oregon, Ohio
Russell G. Haskell
Second Asst. Engineer
Millbury, Ohio
George J. Holl
Chief Engineer
Cabot, Pennsylvania
Bruce L. Hudson
Deck Hand
North Olmsted, Ohio
Allen G. Kalmon
Second Cook
Washburn, Wisconsin
Gordon F. MacLellan
Clearwater, Florida
Joseph W. Mazes
Special Maintenance Man
Ashland, Wisconsin
John H. McCarthy
First Mate
Bay Village, Ohio
Ernest M. McSorley
Toledo, Ohio
Eugene W. O'Brien
Toledo, Ohio
Karl A. Peckol
Ashtabula, Ohio
John J. Poviach
Bradenton, Florida
James A. Pratt
Second Mate
Lakewood, Ohio
Robert C. Rafferty
Toledo, Ohio
Paul M. Riippa
Deck Hand
Ashtabula, Ohio

John D. Simmons
Ashland, Wisconsin
William J. Spengler
Toledo, Ohio
Mark A. Thomas
Deck Hand
Richmond Heights, Ohio
Ralph G. Walton
Fremont, Ohio
David E. Weiss
Agoura, California
Blaine H. Wilhelm
Moquah, Wisconsin
A tip of the Toque to Ken at It Comes in Pints?

Musical Geography Trivia of the Day (Week? Month? Eon?)

If you've been stranded in the combat zone, where have you walked?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Well Hung

My latest special project at school, posted especially for the Baconphiles among us:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Handmade pancetta

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sucks to be U, Dub.

Oregon 55
Washington 34

The Dawgs made it close in the third quarter, but once the Ducks got their offense back on track, they rolled. Except for a couple drives in the third quarter where their own miscues stopped them, the pretty much scored at will in the second half. 465 yards rushing (a school record), 661 yards overall. Here's a telling stat: 3 Ducks ran for over 100 yards, and one of them was the Quarterback. Oregon has defeated UDub and Wazzoo, now all that's left is to beat the Beavs and we own the Northwest. But in the meantime, we have three big games coming up with implications for our postseason - USC next week, ASU the week after that, and UCLA in four weeks -- the three teams tied with us or with better records in the PAC-10. Win all of those and we could be looking at a Rose Bowl berth, if not a shot at the BCS.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Things Unsaid

I did something tonight I haven't done in... well, since The Lad was born. I shed tears of joy.

It happened as I was recounting something that happened at school today. This week in our Garde Manger class, we've been covering charcuterie, smoking and curing meats, confits and rillettes. This has carried over into our restaurant lab (we operate a restaurant on campus) where we have been featuring a lot of the products we made in Garde Manger on our menu. I mentioned to Chef Clive that I had a recipe for smoked fish that I inherited from my great-grandfather, and he had me go ahead and try it on some salmon we had on hand. I brined and smoked it today, and wrapped it up to refrigerate until next Wednesday, when I plan to serve it as the lunch special -- I'm going to make smoked salmon reubens, an idea I got from work this summer. But before I put it away, I set some aside for the rest of my classmates to sample.

Only a few of them had a chance to do so before our other instructor, Chef Chris, stopped by. I decided to offer him a sample, and handed him the ingredient bowl with the salmon and a tasting spoon. He proceeded to eat the entire thing. He then handed the bowl back to me to take to the dish pit, and said, "That's pretty good."

That's all he said. No raving about it, no details about what was good about it, just "That's pretty good".

But the thing is, that'sthe first time he's commented on anything I've cooked without offering suggestions for improvement. I know why he does it -- he wants us to continue to imporve, he wants us to learn and grow and do our best and build on what we've learned. But after a while the constant critique weighs on you, it gets painful to offer something that you've put your efforts and soul into, only to be told what you've done wrong.

But not this time. It was pretty good. Not great, not amazing, not awesome or "Oh my LORD!", but pretty good -- good enough to not mention how it fell short. And that was huge. I've heard of being damned with faint praise, but this time, I was elevated with it.

It felt good to be good. Even just pretty good.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Since You Asked

Over the past few monhs, my posting has become sparser and sparser, and when I DO post, I get fewer responses to the contents of my psot than the, "Oh, THERE you are!" comments.

Most people have assumed that I've stopped posting because I'm busier than before. Nothing could be further from the truth -- even with work, my summer schedule has been easier than my school schedule.

The truth is I've been too damned depressed to post much. My life sucks, and a lot of what I've had to say in the past rings hollow to me. My marriage is a wreck, for reasons that I prefer not to discuss -- suffice it to say neither of us is innocent. I'm not sure I want to stay, but I have nowhere else to go.

I totalled our only car on Wednesday, and the insurance payoff will mostly go to the bank who holds our lien. Our credit is a shambles -- my own damned fault, so financing another is a joke. To top it off, I was 45 minutes from home and an hour or so from Portland when it happened, and was on my way up to PDX to pick TFR and my son from the airport.

Because of the new job, I had to stay here while my wife and son spent 2 weeks in Florida on her parents' dime, going to Walt Disney World, the Everglades, the beach, drinks by the pool.... I stayed here, worked, and ate frozen pizza. I don't cook goutmet for just myself.

And oh, yeah, that job? I lost it yesterday. The fall school schedule came out, I start Monday, and the schedule straddles the day, precluding me from working a morning OR evening shift. They told me to come back when I graduate, but until then, they can't use me.

So I'm sorry if my mind hasn't been as much on politics or musical geography or anything else. Right now I'm just trying to keep myself from dwelling on the fact that thanks to an insurance policy, I'm worth more dead than alive.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Big OUR House

Well, the Ducks MAY score again, but I'm guessing they'll mercifully just run the last 2 minutes off the clock and the final will be Oregon 39, Michigan 7. Two missed field goals kept U of O out of the 40's.

twice withing the last few years, the Ducks have HOSTED storied football programs (Michigan in 2003, Oklahoma) for the first time in the history of Autzen stadium, and twice Oregon won close shockers. This year was the first scheduled payback game -- Oregon went to Ann Arbor, and would have to face the Wolverines on their home turf. No squeakers, no lucky first half followed by hanging on for dear life, no winning on a bad call by the officials.

It didn't matter. The outcome was the same, and in fact, was even less in question. Michigan led once, in the first quarter, when they went up 7-3, but after that the Oregon defense started forcing turnovers and the Offense, led by a finally-matured Dennis Dixon, exploited them. This game was over at halftime.

Which is unfortunate, because there's an interesting side-rivalry that has been created in the Oregon-Michigan matchups: The battle of the crowd noise. Michigan's home stadium, nicknamed the "Big House", seats over 100,000, while Autzen Stadium, home of the Ducks, seats a little over half that. Yet even Michigan players and coaches were stunned four years ago at the crowd noise at Autzen, purported to be the loudest by decibel level of any college football stadium in America. But the Big house has a rep for noise too, and it was going to be interesting to see the contrast. The problem is, the Ducks took the Michigan crowd out of this one early, and the Big House sounded like the Public Library.

The Ducks are 2-0 now, and they're looking a lot better than people here were hoping for. Last week's win against Houston was sloppy, but today they looked sharp, and executed the Spread Offense perfectly, thinning Michigan out and then running Dixon on them. It could be a good year.

Mighty Oregon!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Musical Geography Trivia Question of the Day

If you want to ride, you gotta ride it like you're flyin'.
Three questions:
1) What is it?
2) What are two descriptions of it?
3) Where does it go?
Extra Credit:
Name three artists who sang about it.
One week, no winner, so:
1) The Rock Island Line
2) It is a mighty good road; It is the road to ride
3) Down to New Orleans
Extra Credit:
It's been recorded by quite a few artists, but the more well-known would include Lead Belly, Johnny Horton, Johnny Cash, and the Brothers Four.
Any resemblace to a gospel tune is strictly coincidental.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Heat is On

(Sticky to the top through Saturday)

One of the minor frustrations stemming from my financial situation this summer has been the inability to afford a brisket to barbecue. It used to be a cheap cut of meat, but people have "discovered" it, and its cost is rising faster than a San Diego Condo.

Well, a friend of mine, a local reader of this blog who shall remain anonymous (per their request), has generously donated a brisket to me. It's not as big as the ones I get from the store, but it's of an obviously higher quality -- this person's source for meat rocks.

So last night, I started marinating it. Friday I'll pull it, apply the rub, let is rest overnight, and get to smoking on Saturday. I thought I'd update you all along the way.

Last night, I put the brisket in a stock pot, and added to that:

1 medium yellow onion, small dice
10 cloves garlic, peeled
cracked pepper to taste (lots)
5 sprigs rosemary
1 bottle minus one glass red wine (I used an Oregon wine from Girardet, Grand Rouge, it's patterned after a Cotes du Rhone.)
1 six-pack 5 4 bottles porter (I used MacTarnahan's Black Watch, Black Butte is also good)
32 oz. berry juice (a blend of cranberry, Strawberry, Blackberry, and Raspberry)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup worcestershire sauce

So it definitely has a Northwest twist to it.

UPDATE: Friday Aug 03

Stage two is now under way. This afternoon I removed the brisket from the marinade. The outer layer of the whole thing went from the bright cherry red of meat to the purple-red of the wine. It's beautiful, but most of that will disappear into the smoke ring tomorrow.

The brisket I've patted dry, and applied a dry rub -- 5 parts turbinado sugar, 2 parts kosher salt, with a mix of herbs and spices: white pepper, paprika, ground sundried tomato, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, mustard powder, ground rosemary, ground oregano, ground cumin, ground sage.

I've strained the marinade, setting aside the rosemary twigs separately from the onions and garlic. I have plans for all of that stuff tomorrow.

UPDATE: Saturday Aug 04

At 9:30 this morning I fired up the smoker. While the charcoal was getting ready, I put the leftover marinade in a baking pan and placed it on the lower rack, to let it come up to temp with the smoker. Meanwhile, I removed the brisket from the fridge and let it rest, adding a little more dry rub to the top. When the smoker reached 275, I set the brisket on the top rack over the pan with the marinade. The rosemary from the marinade went in the firebox, along with alder and apple for the smoke sources. Throughout the day I'll be adding more of all three, though the rosemary will now be fresh, not that from the marinade.

1:30 PM

I just committed what is probably some form of heresy for Texans and true believers in their style of cooking brisket, but I discovered it a while back, and it really takes my brisket to another level: Setting the brisket to the side, I've lifted the drip pan up to the top rack, and have set the brisket into it. For the remainder of the time cooking it, it shall be braised (the sumberged bottom side) AND smoked (the exposed topside).

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Musical Geography Trivia Question of the Day

If even her smile looks like a frown, where has she seen her share of devils?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Will Food for Work

I've been keeping my mouth shut about some personal news, both good and bad, but I can finally let the cat out of the bag:

I've been frustrated for some time by my job. I like the people I've been working for, but the work never turned full time. It's not their fault -- El Vaquero is predominantly a dinner restaurant, with some lunch business and no breakfast, and daycare demands have kept me limited to morning hours -- hence the pastry position.

But a while back, I got called in for an interview at another restaurant here in town. The restaurant in question is in an excellent location, has a great reputation, and best of all, it's in a hotel, so they have a lot more flexibility in the hours they have to offer. I met with the Chef de Cuisine of the restaurant (who graduated from the culinary program I'm attending), then the Executive Chef of the entire facility (restaurant and banquet/catering), and yesterday, with their HR director.

So to make a long story... well, not short, but at least to keep it from being any longer, I got the job! I'll be making slightly more than I was before, I'll be working full time, I'll be eligible for benefits. And best of all, I'll be doing prep work -- the first step on the road to the line!

I gave my two weeks notice yesterday, and the Executive Chef at El Vaquero gave me permission to switch right away. I'm grateful for the chance they gave me there, and I have no ill feelings towards the restaurant or the management or staff there, but this new place is a better fit for ME, not just in terms of the hours and position but also in terms of the featured cuisine. This new place serves Northwest Cuisine, with an emphasis on Oregon ingredients and the use of sustainable, local products. The Executive Chef recognizes how blessed we are to live in a region and a state with an abundance of fresh, tasty foods.

I'm not going to mention the new place by name, I think that was a mistake when I mentioned El Vaquero by name. But I'm sure my local readers have narrowed the identity down to a select few. Regardless, be happy for me -- things are looking up.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Killer "B"eans

So for the reunion cookout on Sunday, the reunion committee provided burgers, dogs, and pop, and we were asked to bring a side dish to share. Since I spent most of the day Saturday preparing to drive south for the reunion, and we were leaving early on Sunday, I opted for somehting I could cook in the crockpot on Saturday, forget it while doing chores, fridge it before leaving, then reheat Sunday morning. My choice? Killer "B"eans: Brian B's Blackberry, Bacon, and Beer Barbecue Baked Beans. Into the pot went:

1 small yellow onion, small dice
1 package bacon, small dice
4 15 oz cans of pinot beans, rinsed
1 12 oz bottle Smucker's blackberry syrup
1 12 oz bottle MacTarnahan's Black Watch Porter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
hot sauce to taste
1 tbsp yellow mustard
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

They cooked on high for 3 hours, then reheated the next morning, and they were delicious. TFR says they'd be better if the bacon were pre-cooked, but I thought they were good as is.

Always a Trojan

Well, it's done. My twentieth high school reunion, that is. The festivities were this past weekend -- Saturday night we had a buffet dinner, just the classmates and spouses; Sunday afternoon we all got together for a family cookout.

For a group of people pushing 40, I was amazed at how many of us had small kids -- The Lad, at 2 1/2, was nowhere hear the youngest, and one classmate had to decline to attend because she had a baby just months ago. The crowd at the bar on Saturday was small compared to the popularity of the playground on Sunday.

It was also intesting to observe the changes: the people who hadn't aged a day; the people who looked 50; the people who despite the aging were immediately identifiable, and the people whose name tags were my only hope. Time is fickle. I remember an episode of the original Star Trk in which the characters aged at a phenomenal rate, I always found it amusing to watch that episode as a rerun after the movies came out. Saturday and to a lesser extend Sunday were the same way -- people don't always age according to our expecttons. The years dole out both grace and harshness, sometimes in the same face, but always in portions specific to the individual.

And time changes us in ways other than our physical appearance. Our experiences, our opportunities, our choices -- each of us took a different path to reach the Moose Lodge this past Saturday. For some of us the road is longer than others, or harder, or more indirect, and we are all at different places in our lives, but we were all in one place that night, and it felt good.

It felt good because for a few hours each day, that place was the same place. We were equals, we were back together in one place in one time: classmates, friends, peers. Whether we work at the local pizza joint or are a corporate attorney -- and yes, the careers did span that wide a gap -- we were old friends, all glad to see each other, all helping each other remember our youth.

Sunday we all sort of drifted off. The farther away we lived, the earlier we left. But there wasn't any melancholy on my behalf, no sentimental sadness. All I felt was a gladness to be reminded that despite all that has changed, I still belong, I'm still a part of a group with a shared experience -- Douglas High School, Class of '87.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Musical Geography Trivia Question of the Day

Baby, you and me were never meant to be,
just maybe think of me once in a while.
Where am I?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Musical Geography Trivia Question of the Day

If you come lookin' for a job, but get no offers, what DO you get?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Quote of the Week

A tip of the toque to Bill Steigerwald via Tim Blair via Ken at It Comes in Pints?

"...NBC's [Live Earth] concert-highlights show Saturday night drew only 2.75 million -- which means more Americans watched Peru and Argentina play soccer on Spanish-language Univision."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Musical Geography Trivia Question of the Day

If you took them out with a well-aimed clout, what were you often heard to say?

Our Borders are Juuuuuuuuuust Fiiiiiiiiine....

Yeah, right.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I Don't Tan, I Rust

A tip of the toque to Troutdale Councilor Canfield:

You are 100% Oregon

Congratulations! You are a native Oregonian. Pick up your honorary singing salmon plaque at City Hall.

How Oregon are you?
Quizzes for MySpace

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Self Evident

In celebration of the Glorious Fourth, I had considered reposting this entry, in which I explain why I believe the Declaration of Independence is a more central document for informing my political beliefs than the Constitution.

Instead, I decided to just post it here and let it speak for itself:

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Happy Independence Day, America.

How Much Greenhouse Carbon is Emitted by Burning Heretics at the Stake?

A tip of the toque to non-blogging buddy Lurch, who sent me a link to this speech by Michael Crichton. In it, Crichton takes to task the "consensus" argument that is used so widely to justify Global Warming alarmism. It's chilling stuff (pun intended), but a must read. The money quote, in my opinion:

Of course, any scientist can be charged as Galileo was charged. I just never thought I'd see the Scientific American in the role of mother church.

Indeed. But that really is what we're coming to.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Musical Geography Trivia Question of the Day

If the seagulls were wheeling high above the wall, what thing made what noise in what place?

We Have No Winner

Wow. For the first time ever, I've posted a Musical Geography Trivia Question that NO ONE has answered, in over two weeks.

So, without further ado:

1. Portland, Oregon
2. Sloe Gin Fizz.
3. If that ain't love, then tell me what is.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Beverly Sills, 1929-2007.

I remember watching and enjoying her on the Muppet Show as a kid. She made opera enjoyable, and entertaining, without cheapening it. In many ways she reminded me of Julia Child -- a sharp mind, a humble graciousness, and blazingly gifted. She will be missed.

All My Rowdy Friends are Coming Over Tonight

A tip of the toque to Ken at It Comes in Pints?

what redneck are you?
Your Result: hank Jr

a bottle of jack and a few rowdy friends is your life. you like country music and just hanging around. you know what its like to be laid up here in a country state of mind

ted nugent
david allen coe
hillary clinton
what redneck are you?
Make a Quiz

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Rolling in the Dough

Literally for now, hopefully figuratively soon.

Sorry I haven't been posting much, but I got busy again, and with good reason/news:

As of Sunday, I stopped workingin the dish pit at El Vaquero. Instead, as of Monday, I started trainingto take over the pastry station. I'm fed to the wolves this coming Tuesday.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


His child AND the mother.

I was in tears when I found out, even though I expected this. My heart goes out to her and her family. I hope he fries.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Look at the BONES, Man!

What picture from Monty Python and the Holy Grail are you?

You get the "Tim the Enchanter" picture. The almighty Tim, who can conjure up fire without the use of flint or tinder! "There are some who call me...TIM." "Death awaits you all with nasty, pointy teeth!"
Take this quiz!


Make A Quiz More Quizzes Grab Code

Saturday, June 16, 2007

So Very Wrong

A tip of the toque to Ken at It Comes in Pints?

"Baby Got Back" as interpreted by Gilbert and Sullivan

Ok, also so very funny... but STILL WRONG!

What's next, a George M. Cohen rendition of "Walk This Way?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Musical Geography Question of the Day

If you lost your heart and it didn't take no time, but that ain't all, you lost your mind:

1. Where were you?
2. What were you drinking?
3. What is that?

No Matter What You Think of Reality TV...

If this doesn't move you, your heart is as cold and hard as the iceberg that sunk the titanic.

Humor Well Done

I so have to go see this movie.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Musical Geography Trivia Question of the Day

If you huff and puff and you fin'ly save enough money up to take your family on a trip across the sea, where do you go?


I just got out of my final exam for my Cooking Theories/Baking class. In 90 minutes we have deep hurting cleaning of the bake shop and the Renaissance Room (our student-run restaurant), and I have one take home final in Writing, but it's gonna be a snap -- for the most part, the term is over, and I'm no longer a First Year student. Yay! Words can't describe how excited, relieved, and exhausted I am.

Some irony though:

I've hated this term... well, not hated it -- I've enjoyed the Ren Room, but the bake shop has really been a challenge. I am less passionate about and less confident in myself while baking than any other type of cooking, and while I did learn the basic skills, this term did little to change my perspective on baking. Or so I thought. Last night I found myself taking a chance I never would have dreamed of before this term.

During the evening shift at work, I overheard the chef talking to the head waitress. He was telling her which desserts were 86'ed, and it was most of them. Apparently, the pastry chef doesn't work weekends, and so on Sunday they're pretty low on options.

I had already spoken with the chef, and let him know that now that school's out, I need more hours. He's doing his best to find me shifts that don't conflict with our ability to acquire daycare for The Lad. So when he came over to the dishpit to discuss it with me further, I broached the subject: "I overheard you talking, and understand you don't have a Sunday pastry chef?"

"No, I don't"

"You know, I spent the last two months in the bake shop at school."

"I know. It's a possibility. We'll see what happens."

So there it is. I may end up wearing a pastry chef's hat at least one day a week. And the weird part is, it kind of excites me.

Hopefully I'll be posting more often now that school is out. I do rather miss blogging regularly.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Last Hurrah

As of today, I have exactly one year left of being "thirtysomething" (Lord, I remember thinking that was the dumbest title for a show ever). And to top it all off, today is day two of the practical assessment finals for this term. A whole day of being graded on how I perform in the bake shop -- my least favorite part of the culinary arts.

Happy Friggin Birthday to Me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Well, I DO Mix a Mean Cocktail (for an Amateur)

A tip of the toque to Ken at It Comes in Pints?

Only one nit to pick -- a proper martini is stirred, never shaken.

Your Score: William Powell

You scored 19% Tough, 28% Roguish, 19% Friendly, and 33% Charming!

You are the classic rogue, a stylish rake with the devil of a wit and a flair for mischief, and you shake your martinis to waltz time. You are charming and debonair, but slightly untrustworthy, and women should be on their guard. If married, you are simply a bit of a flirt, even if it's just with your own wife...but if you're single, watch out. You usually rein yourself in to concentrate on one lovely beauty at a time, but with you, we never know. You're an inviting partner, but there's a playful devil behind your eyes, and those trying to get close to you should know they're playing with fire. You're stylish and fun, but you follow your own course, which may or may not include a steady gal. Co-stars include Myrna Loy and Carole Lombard, classy ladies with an adventurous streak.

Find out what kind of classic dame you'd make by taking the Classic Dames Test.

Link: The Classic Leading Man Test written by gidgetgoes on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Friday, May 25, 2007

Two Thousand a Day

That's approximately how many children, on average, are reported missing in the US. Every day. And that's just here in the US. Most are quickly reunited with their families, but we know too painfully the stories of those who aren't -- the ones who are found dead, or worse, are never heard from again.

Today is National Missing Children's Day. As a parent, this is a cause near to my heart. The idea of The Lad going missing, of anything happening to him, curdles my blood. Every time I see a story in the news about a missing or abused child, I want to go pick him up and hug him -- but usually he's asleep.

Please take a moment to check out these links. Consider doing something to help, or at least, please, be aware and look out for the kids in your life:

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Missing Kids UK
Child Focus

Monday, May 21, 2007


That's the amount listed on the check in my wallet right now. It's a paycheck for one day's long work, plus tips -- the servers at this restaurant take care of their dishwasher. So do the cooks, for that matter, but their generosity goes straight into my belly.

That's not a lot of money, is it? It's roughly 1/4 of what I was receiving in unemployment benefits (while they lasted). But here's the thing:

I earned it.

That's the first time I've been able to say that in 10 months, and it feels damned good.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Good Wine, Better People

I get to be a hero this week, thanks to some former members of my father's church.

It began this last Thursday. At the beginning of class, we met with the two second year students who are executive chef and sous chef for this week's fundraising buffet dinner. The theme is Northwest cuisine, all local ingredients and flavors. One of the featured dishes is buffalo brisket braised in Pinot Noir. My chef instructor was bemoaning the fact that none of the local wineries here around Eugene would donate the two cases of Pinot needed for the dish. The alternative facing them was to buy a case of Pinot, and make up the rest of the volume in boxed Merlot. [shudder]

I raised my hand and explained that I knew some people who owned a winery and would see what I could do. One phone call and a call back later, and it was arranged. We drove the hour and a half down to Tenmile today, and now there are two cases of Pinot sitting in my garage, waiting to go with me to school this week.

So if you get a chance, and like good wine (and better people), and live somewhere where it's sold, pick up a bottle from Girardet Wine Cellars. Here in Oregon they're sold in Fred Meyer, among other places, and they're available in other western states as well. In addition to their Piont Noir, I highly recommend their Baco Noir, which is an earthy, fruity, full-bodied wine that is surprisingly versatile for a red, and their Grand Rouge, which does a great impersonation of a Cotes du Rhone, for a good price.

Losing My Religion

As many of my readers and friends know, I am a devout Single Malt Scotch Whisky drinker. It is almost, you might say, a religious devotion to me. The problem is, the Scotches I prefer are rather... pricey, to say the least. A great way to forestall alcoholism, but frustrating nonetheless.

In order to compensate for this, Ive let my love of Scotch lead to a general affinity for whiskies, with Irish and Bourbon whiskies playing second fiddle to Scotch, and Canadian a distant fourth. While I still like them, Ive considered them slightly inferior -- not necessarily in quality, but at the very least in my palate and preference. Until tonight.

I was called in to work to shadow the regular dish pit guy, in hopes I'd learn a few things that will help me avoid the weeds tomorrow and in the future. I DID pick up some time-saving pointers, but also discovered some duties I left undone last week, simply because I was not made aware of their existence. But that's beside the point.

The point is that after my shift, I went out to the bar for a drink. a patron was feeling magnanimous and picked up my tab for one drink, so I decided to try a Bourbon that the bartender recommended to me last week.

Dear Lord...

I hope my highland ancestors can forgive me. I've found a Bourbon that is, at least to my tongue, on a par with a good single malt. Ladies and gentlemen, I commend to you: Woodford Reserve. This is a small batch Bourbon, and I drank it in a highball, with a single cube of ice -- as God In Heaven intended. It wasn't peaty and earthy and smoky, the way I prefer my Scotch, but it was smooth, rich, and complex -- this whisky had something going on, and it was something good. The deep reddish-amber color, the easy way it rolled down my tongue -- I was drinking silk.

I am still a Single Malt man. There's something fierce and tribal about a dram of Uisge Betha. But for a sipping whisky that manages to come across as a bit less musty, but still just as distinctive and indepentend, you'd not go wrong by pouring yourself some Woodford Reserve.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Get Offal

A tip of the toque to Maximum Leader at Naked Villainy.

Mike links to a great site on the use of offal in cuisine, Offal Good. The tasty that that got his attention? Porchetta di Testa -- marinated and braised pig's head. Looks good. My experience with offal is limited, but I'm curious. I tried marrow at Christmas and loved it.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Colored Threads

[Editor's Note: This was an essay I submitted this term for my writing class. It received an A, so I thought I'd share it here.]

I didn't know that I grew up poor until well after the fact, having been blessed with very resourceful parents. For most of my childhood, my father was a pastor serving in small churches in rural communities in Oregon and Idaho, and I don't ever remember a time when he wasn't doing other odd jobs to supplement the family income – grocery clerk, electrician, day laborer. My mother often worked outside the home as well, and in addition, she was a wonderful homemaker. She sewed clothes for us, gardened and canned the fruits of her labor, and was an extraordinary bargain hunter. My parents' deep faith and dedication to their congregations made them respected in the community, and people often expressed their appreciation with material and financial help in times of need. The combination of faith and resourcefulness meant that we always had our needs met, and often enough, would manage to squeeze out just a little bit for fun. And sometimes, what seemed like enough to get a little ahead turned out to be just what we needed to get by.

I remember the year the congregation passed the plate to give my father a Christmas bonus. The bonus was around three hundred dollars – not a lot, seemingly, but for a poor family in the late 1970's, it was enough to make a difference. Just what kind of difference, we would soon find out. We were heading to San Diego as usual to visit my grandparents, and the extra money meant a visit to an amusement park and perhaps a nice restaurant for my parents. Somewhere on I-5 south of Stockton plans changed when the family station wagon stopped running. We managed to pull off of the freeway and came to a stop at an abandoned gas station, which thankfully still had a working pay phone. After a phone call and a “quick” tow into the Central California town of Firebaugh (several miles off the freeway), we soon learned that the timing gear was shot, and we'd be spending the afternoon there. While my father stayed with the car, my mother looked after me and my sister. That day happened to be the day that Santa Claus visited town on the back of the town's fire truck, the closest thing Firebaugh had to a Christmas parade. He was passing out brown paper lunch bags filled with candy, peanuts, apples and oranges, and my mother managed to wrangle several extra -- that was our lunch. The repairs to the car took most of the afternoon and the exact amount of the gift from the church. There wasn't a penny of that check left, but it got us to San Diego and we had a grand time nonetheless.

Perhaps part of the reason my parents worked so hard to not only provide for us, but also to conceal the lengths they had to go to in order to do so, had to do with my father's own youth. His mother had died when he was five, and his father, heartbroken, took to the bottle and to the road. The family lived in countless places all up and down the West Coast, practically homeless an often hungry. Life didn't get much better for my father and his siblings until his teenage years when a family in Lorane, Oregon, took them in. The Rothages gave them love, a home, and responsibility, and my father and my uncle especially became fine young men thanks to it. But his childhood influenced my father's outlook on poverty for the rest of his life, and he did his best to make sure my sister and I were shielded from it.

The signs of our own humble upbringing were there, but my parents went to great lengths, even sacrificial ones, to downplay them. Every year when school started in the fall, my parents bough us new clothes and school supplies. Christmas and birthdays, while never the extravaganzas of excess we expect today, always included enough presents, both from my parents and maternal grandparents, to ensure a happy day. We had wonderful family vacations, we went to the fair, we even occasionally went to see a movie. What I didn't see were the sacrifices my parents made – doing without luxuries that they might have wanted, even making their own necessities stretch further, to give us kids what we needed (and sometimes what we wanted, as well). As a child, I didn't recognize the significance of the multicolored thread I noticed on the inside of my father's suit jacket. But I understand now. Instead of buying a new suit to wear to church, he had had my mother mend his old one numerous times, the money that might have gone to a suit instead going to God only knows what – trumpet lessons? Cub Scout dues? Groceries? Just what I had because he went without, my father never revealed, and I'll never know.

I was reminded of all of this when I was called upon in an earlier writing assignment to submit a photograph and write about what it made me think of. The picture is from a year ago. In it I am standing in my grandparents' house in Southern California, holding my son who was at the time fifteen months old. On the wall behind us hang several pictures of my ancestors. In that picture, I could see myself making a connection with them as I held my own son. Seeing them recalled to me my own father and reminded me of what he had done; seeing my son reminded me that I now understand why he did it. As a parent, I would willingly, gladly make the same kind of sacrifices for my child.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Beast Within

A tip of the toque to Ken at It Comes in Pints?

I don't know what sickens me more -- What this monster did or what I want to do to him in response.

It's Been a While...

since I posted a recipe. Mostly because all of the recipes I've been using lately have been the ones assigned to me at school, and none of them are of my own doing.

But today I had a chance to do it my way. My team is on the bake shop/dessert station rotation in the Renaissance Room. I was inspired by one of the desserts served at the restaurant where I work, and though I didn't have their recipe, I had a basic recipe from school that I was able to modify, and created the following:

Mexican Chocolate Creme Brulee
Serves 8

4 ounces dark chocolate, coarse chop
3 ounces pasteurized egg yolks
1 whole egg
3 1/2 ounces sugar
24 ounces heavy cream
1 teaspoon rum
2 teaspoons cinnamon
granulated sugar

In a large stainless steel bowl combine the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, rum, and cinnamon, whisk until smooth.

Place chopped chocolate in a double boiler and melt over simmering water. Do not overheat.

Place heavy cream in a heavy saucepan and heat over medium heat until you see steam begin to rise. Remove from heat and stir in melted chocolate until completely combined.

Slowly pour the hot cream and chocolate mixture into the egg mixture to temper it, whisking it as you go. Continue until all ingredients are well combined.

Pour through a fine sieve into a large pouring container. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, skim off any foam.

Pour into creme brulee dishes (large ramekins will do) to just below the rim. Place in a shallow water bath and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, until set. Remove from oven, let stand for a short time and then remove from the bath, taking care not to splash water on the creme brulee. Cool, cover and refrigerate.

Just before serving:

Sprinkle a thin layer over the top of the creme brulee. With a lit torch, slowly melt the sugar until it begins to cramelize. Move the torch back and forth across the sugar and pull away if necessary to avoid burning the sugar. Serve.

The results were pretty good, though I think I'm going to tweak a couple things. For one, I tried using turbinado (raw) sugar instead of whiote sugar for the crust, but the big granules would burn on the outside before they'd melt on the inside, so we switched to white sugar. Tomorrow I'm going to try putting the turbinado in the food processor to get it finer, because I do like the flavor profile. Also, I'd love to try a Mexican liquor, maybe some Kahlua or something. Just not tequila. But I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fred Thompson Says "No Moore".

A tip of the Toque to my old and dear friend The Reverend Professor.

Fred Thompson responds to Michael Moore from breitbarttv on Vimeo

That's gonna leave a mark. I so hope Fred runs.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Burn, Baby, Burn!

I spent my first shift ever working in a restaurant last night, doing dishes from 4 until almost 2 last night. Long shift, longer than it should have been, just because I'm still a rookie and it was Mother's Day -- we were slammed. Unlike the line, in the pit, the closer you get to closing, the deeper in the weeds you get.

As you can see, I also got my first professional injury -- a beauty of a burn, almost second degree, from a saute pan that shifted in the bus tub I was carrying.

I even got a chance to do a tiny bit of prep, cutting limes for garnish.

The head chef told me at one point that I am the kind of employee he likes -- the kind he can ignore. I replied that that is my philosophy -- as long as the boss doesn't want to talk to me, I must be doing alright. He said if things progress well, I'll be doing prep work before long.

All in all it was a good first day. And as small as it will be (working one shift a week), I'm looking forward to my first actual paycheck in almost a year.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Musical Geography Question of the Day

What happened back in the bad old days in the heat of a summer night?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I GOT A JOB!!!!!

Starting this Sunday I'll be washing dishes at El Vaquero, one of the nicer restaurants in town. Doesn't sound like much, but once the school year ends, I'll be available for more hours, and everyone starts in the dish pit -- the fact that I'll be washing them in such a nice place is a leg up in this industry.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Musical Geography Question of the Day

What's the town that knew me when?

Just Remember...

Illegal Aliens only want jobs and a chance at the American Dream, and it is unreasonable to want to secure our borders.

What I'm Reading for Leisure

When I find the time:

Faithful - Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King

As a lifelong baseball fan and Yankees hater, this book about Boston's 2004 has intrigued me since I saw it in the window of a local used bookstore. Today I saw it marked down to $5, something even I could scrape up, so I broke down and bought it. I've no idea when I'll get to read it, but I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, May 04, 2007

In Case You Were STILL Wondering...

Oh yeah, one more bit of good news. A week or so ago, there was an event here (it's an annual thing) in Eugene called Chef's Night Out. It's a fund raiser for Food for Lane County. People pay $65 to enter the event, at which they stroll around and sample various offerings from some of the best restaurants and wineries in the area. Then they vote on the ones they liked best. Our LCC Culinary team won the Best Sweet Bite award for our chocolates, tartlets, and cream puff swans.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

In Case You Were Wondering...

Yes, I'm still around, and yes, I'm still doing AND thinking about more than musical geography. But school this term is crazy -- between lecture and lab, I'm in class 27 hours a week, though that's for only 14 credits. Add on top of that the time I spend caring for The Lad, and life's pretty darn hectic. But I thought I'd take the time to give you an update on all things culinary:

24 of those hours and 10 of the credits are spent in two classes: Cooking Theories 3 and Restaurant Lab.

Cooking Theories 3 is the third term of our class on basic cooking techniques -- sort of Chef 101. This term the focus is the bake shop and professional baking, and I've learned quite a few things, the most important of which is that I'm not going to be a baker.

Restaurant Lab, well, is pretty self-explanatory. We run the Renaissance Room, a student restaurant that is open for lunch Monday through Thursday (two days a week per group -- I'm in Group B). We're split into teams, and we're rotated by team through the different stations, including (*shudder*) the front of the house (I don't understand why they don't include Hospitality Management students in the Ren Room and put them up front, but eh... at least I have some knowledge of the front). The first week of term we weren't open. The second week, I was in the bake shop. Then the front. It wasn't until last week that I was finally rotated to the front line, and actually got to do some savory cooking. I didn't realize how much I'd missed it.

This week I'm on the back line. Today I had the priviledge of making the Amuse Bouche, which got rave reviews. Usually we take whatever tasty odds and ends we have available and throw them together for the amuse. One of my classmates recently made some pancetta and bacon, and had taken the pancetta trimmings and smoked them. For today's amuse, I took crostini and topped it with sundried tomato pesto, sliced smoked pancetta, and Manchego cheese, then baked it off. Tomorrow I'm the Potager, and I'm making the Northwest version of slumgullion (or at least the definition of it that my father taught to me) -- a soup based on New England clam chowder but with shrimp (and in this case, bay scallops) added. The clam chowder recipe I'm using calls for salt pork, but given the Western variation of it, I'm going to use bacon (or maybe some more of that smoked pancetta. Mmmm.... smoke....).

One last thing, a request for your prayers and well-wishes. Since I was laid off in July, I've been on Training Unemployment -- due to my status as a displaced worker, they've been paying me a stipend to go to school. That ran out several weeks ago, and things are tight. This past two weeks we've been getting by on about $50 worth of groceries, and last month's rent check bounced. This month's rent and daycare pretty much finishes off TFR's check, so we're back in the hotseat. But due to one of TFR's guests at work, I have an interview with the GM and the Executive chef of one of the best restauranteurs in twon, who is opening a new restaurant in two weeks. Please pray I can get the job, and please pray we manage to keep the wolves at bay.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Musical Geography Trivia Question of the Day

If they're a band of men brave, stout and bold, and they have a leader to the fold:

1. Who are they?
2. From where did they come?
3. What was their leader's name?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Study To Show Thyself

A tip of the toque to Maximum Leader that Naked Villainy.
I'm not exactly a bible scholar, but considering the following, it should be not surprise that I know who Nimrod was:

You know the Bible 100%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Musical Geography Trivia Question of the Day

Though it may be harder for you to see me, what place am I?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Musical Geography Trivia Question of the Day

Where did stars and steel guitars and luscious lips as red as wine break somebody's heart?

Quote of the Week

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms ... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one."

-Thomas Jefferson, Quoting Cesare Beccari's "On Crimes and Punishment"

Read more here. Despite my issues with him, I think Lars nails it in this essay.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Paging Anthony Bourdain...

... your Pimp Hand is needed at the Food Network.

OK, I'll admit that I ceased being a Rachel Ray fan a long time ago. It's not bad enough that I've never spent $40/day on food while on vacation in m entire freaking LIFE, but the fact that every damned thing she eats gets a reaction that would make a pr0n star proud gets on my nerves.

But tonight's 30-Minute Meals was the last straw. The woman took a porterhouse steak and smothered it in a pizza-style tomato sauce with pepperoni.

You heard me, a porterhouse. Cut from the loin. Bigass king of steaks. Treated like a freaking CUBE steak.

Someone needs to B**** slap her. She should be grateful that Anthony's on another network.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Where Have You Gone Ghirardelli Flicks?

A Nation Turns its Hungry Teeth to You, Woo Woo Woo...

This evening, TFR and I I were watching the Food Network, and the show was on candy. It got me thinking about two candies I miss from my childhood:

Ghirardelli Flicks. These were chocolate chips on steroids; stealth kisses. They were round chocolates, with a curved tip like a chip or a kiss but flatter and bigger round. They came in cardboard rolls similart to TP tubes but smaller, wrapped in colored foild paper. According to one of the websites I visited, Ghirardelli's packaging equipment was damaged when they moved to San Leandro, and that's their excuse for not selling them anymore. Considering that another company now makes and sells them, it seems like a lameass excuse. I do miss them so.

The other candy was:

7-Up Bars. Made by Pearson Candy of Minnesota, this was a filled cany bar, and each section of the bar was filled with a different flavored filling. Unlike Flicks, none of the specialty nostalgia candy makers is selling them.

Musical Geography Trivia Question(s) of the Day

1. Who met Texas Red at 11:20?
2. What did he wear?
3. In what town did this occur?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Musical Geography Trivia Question of the Day

How many of you who sit and judge me have done this?

Has Anyone Seen My Breath?

I'm trying to catch it.

Spring Term started Monday, but our first day was spent at the Food Show (a trade convention) in Portland. Tuesday, I had Cooking Theory 3. This term the focus is baking, my weak point. Class is from 11:00 until 5:30 with one half hour break. That's my Mondays and Tuesdays. Wednesdays and Thursdays, class is only from 8:30 to 2:20, but there's no break -- we're in the Ren Room, running an actual working restaurant. Tomorrow I have writing from 9:00 until 11:30. And Tuesdays through Saturdays, I care for the Lad while TFR is at work. Once I start looking for a job next week, things will get hectic. Did I mention homework?

The other night we weren't that hungry, so we had a snacky-type meal of roasted garlic spread on toasted sourdough, then lightly salted and dipped in olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. Guess who was craziest about it? Yup, The Lad.

He's getting so big. He turned 2 in January. He's talking up a storm, his vocabulary getting bigger every day, and he can count to 7. We've started approaching the topic of potty training, but it hasn't really started in earnest yet.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Mighty Mouse

TaJuan Porter:
True Fresman
8-12 From behind the arc.
33 Points
And thanks to him, Oregon is in the Elite 8 with their best record since the 1939 team won the very first NCAA Championship.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

R.I.P., Van Winkle

Counterfeit philosophies have polluted all
of your thoughts.
Karl Marx has got ya by the throat, Henry
Kissinger's got you tied up in knots.
When you gonna wake up,
when you gonna wake up
When you gonna wake up and strengthen the
things that remain?
- "When You Gonna Wake Up?", Bob Dylan, Slow Train Coming
That's the song that came to mind when I read this editorial by Salena Zito. It echoes the sentiments put forth in this editorial from the German newspaper Die Welt, which was just recently emailed to me.
The German editorial was in 2004. Salena's was this week. Same message, still being ignore.
Theo Van Gogh
When ARE we gonna wake up? And will it be too late?

Friday, March 16, 2007


A few thoughts at hour 23 of a 24-hour fast:

There are too damned many food commercials on TV.

Coffee tastes great when you aren't eating, but leaves you edgy.

There are too damned many food commercials on TV.

It's interesting how much we take not only food but eating for granted. The only time I almost slipped up and ate was when I was feeding The Lad and caught myself pooping one of his cashews in my mouth -- I spit it out, but the thing was, I didn't even think before doing it.

There are too damned many food commercials on TV.

TFR asked me if I've been thinking about the troops or my stomach, and I told her both. All day I've used each pang of hunger as a prompt to reflect on what our troops go through for us, like some sort of digestive rosary.

There are too damned many food commercials on TV.

The closer it gets to 24 hours, the more aware I am of my hunger -- exponentially. I can't help but compare this to the feeling soldiers get when they're "short" (close to going home).

There are too damned many food commercials on TV.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

In Under Three Hours...

I'll be starting a 24-hour fast. The idea was given to me by Lemon Stand, who participated earlier this year in the Tanker Brothers' Rolling Victory Fast.

The idea is to have everyday Americans spell each other and each fast for one day so that the fast "rolls" indefinitely. It's a symbolic gesture to let the troops know we believe in them and what they're doing for us, that we support them, and that not all Americans side with Cindy Sheehan and her crowd who claim to "support the troops but oppose the war".

So from midnight tonight until midnight tomorrow night, it's nothing for me but tea, black coffee, and water. During that time I'll be reflecting on the sacrifices our troops make for our peace, freedom, and safety. When my tummy rumbles or my mouth waters, I'll compare that minor inconvenience to the danger, the deprivation, and suffering they endure for me and mine.

On the advice of the gang at Tanker Brothers, I went to the Any Soldier website to pick a soldier from an Oregon unit to dedicate my fast to. I chose Staff Sgt. Don Hoxsey. He's an Idahoan serving in an Oregon NG unit. Since I'm from Oregon but spent my childhood in Idaho, that's appropriate.

But I'm also dedicating it to my father, my grandfather, my uncles and cousins who all served in the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Air Force. Thank you for doing what I wanted to but couldn't -- representing our family in our country's uniform.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Black Boxing It

OK, so next week is finals week, and that means you should be hearing from me more often, ONCE that hell is over.

This week we have practical assessment finals. In Cooking Theory, that means performing specific taskes and cooking a preset meal. In Concepts of Tastes & Flavours, it's a bit more fun -- and challenging -- a Black Box, which means a bunch of product is put in front of us and we have to decide how to cook it. Today was prep day in both classes, tomorrow we cook & plate.

Here's my and my partner's menu for Tastes & Flavours:

Mushroom caps stuffed with Kalamata & Anchovy Tapenade

Main Course:
Aerleon Chicken Breast marinated in olive oil & Mediterranean spices
New Potatoes sauteed with bell peppers & onions
Blanched asparagus in white wine vinaigrette


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Monday, March 05, 2007

Musical Geography Question of the Day

In what city would you find a few red lights and a few old beds?

God is in His Heaven

And all is right with the World:

You Are 0% NYC

At best, you're a tourist. At worst, you're a poseur.

There's a reason I choose to live west of the Cascades.

A tip of the toque to The Llama Butchers.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thought for the Day

Some mornings it's just not worth gnawing through the leather straps.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Quote of the Day

"People are more violently opposed to fur than to leather because it's easier to harass rich women than it is motorcycle gangs."

- Bumper Sticker

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Come Back

Shane Bobgrrl, Come Back!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Musical Geography Question of the Day

If your car's got an overdrive that just won't stall, what mountain pass are you crossing?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bullet the Blue Sky

No, not the U2 song.

If you like Bourbon & Coke, I highly recommend this combination instead: Bulleit Bourbon and Blue Sky Natural Cola. Mmmmmmmm...........

Friday, February 16, 2007

Learning Curve

There's a new Barbecue joint in town, it's called the Howling Coyote. That brings to 5 the places I know of in Eugene that make real pit smoked barbecue -- three sit-downs (Howling Coyote, Hole in the Wall, and Papa's Soul Food Kitchen) and two walk-ups (Tony's and this place I saw in passing this week but didn't catch the name of). We've tried three of them: Hole in the Wall is ok, but it's way overpriced and it's a bit on the dry side. Tony's kicks serious smoky ass. H.C. is good food, but the service is lacklustre (I'm surprised to realize that, while I'm committed to being the best chef I can be some day, when I'm a customer, I'm more critical of poor service than of disappointing food), and the meat portions are small for what you pay. Papa's Soul Food Kitchen has an awesome reputation, but so far it's always been closed or SRO when TFR and I have wanted to go. Crowds and a 2-year-old do no mix well. The last place is a mystery.
We ate at H.C. tonight -- TFR had been there, I had not. The food was good -- the Brisket was moist and tender, though the smoke ring was a might thin for my taste, and given that I paid $9.00 for a platter that was served on plastic, I expected a little more than the 4 oz. or so of it I got. TFR's ribs were good -- I'd argue that my Brisket beats theirs, but their ribs beat mine, especially if you like dry style.
But here was the part I found amusing, and revealing regarding the learning curve here in Eugene rtegarding good barbecue. When we got there, they had run out of pulled pork, and before our food arrived the chicken disappeared too. By the time we had finished eating, the ribs and brisket were gone, and they were closing down -- twenty minutes ahead of time. As we were paying the check, a young man walked in, and got huffy when told they were closing. As we walked out the door, we saw a couple getting out of their car. We let them know that they were closed because they were out of meat. It took them a minute to get it... "Didn't they just open for business recently?"
Folks, this is BARBECUE. They smoke this meat for 12-14 hours. As I'm typing this, they're loading in the Boston butts and briskets that will be eaten tomorrow afternoon. They're making estimates NOW about how much business they'll get TOMORROW. It's not like a regular restaurant where they fire the food when you order it. It's being fired now, and tomorrow, when it's gone, it's gone. Just like happened tonight.
I've heard of places in Texas where people will stand in line for an hour or more, and even then be taking their chances -- often they'll get to the front of the line only to be informed that the food is gone. Are you serious about barbecue? Then you get there EARLY. That's the way it's done.
A few people get it -- this is, after all, the destination location of the Great Migration, people have over the generations moved here from all over, and are still arriving, and those people bring with them the cultural knowledge of their place of origin. But Eugene has a lot to learn about Barbecue.
An empty stomach is a small price to pay for knowledge.

Pondering Life's Deeper Mysteries

What ever happened to Love Potions Numbers 1-8?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Musical Geography Question of the Day

From where was a brave young Indian you should remember well?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Musical Geography Question of the Day

Where is there a shadow on the door?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Boy Howdy

A Tip of the Toque to Professor Chaos for this idea. I'm going to try getting back into the swing of blogging by starting a new feature: Sous What?, a semi-regular post in which I will answer some culinary question posed by a reader. Bearing in mind that I'm still a culinary student and not a culinarian yet, let alone an actual chef, some questions will require I do some research before answering. But this weeks question, posed by the aforementioned Professor Chaos, I can answer now:

What's the difference between a marinade with a base of water vs. having a base of oil?

The main differese is that water-based marinades, and their close relatives brines, will dry food, especially red meat, out more than oil-based marinades. This is largely due to the salinity of the marinades (hence the term brine). Fat, which is what oil is, just vegetable fat, preserves moistness. It seems counter-intuitive, but that's how it works, especially with grilling, frying and sauteeing. Add some acid to cut the fat -- red wine, citrus juice, and vinegar being the top three options.

That's not to say that fatless marinades don't have their place. If you plan to use a moist heat cooking method, such as braising or stewing, dryness isn't going to be an issue.

And there are, of course, exceptions to every rule. Slow cooked food is the exception in this case. Alton Brown recommends brining turkey to make it moister. Smoked fish is brined then dried, creating a layer called a pellicle that retains moinsture in the meat. And when I barbecue brisket, I marinate it in a fatless marinade, but one that's fairly low in salt, and it's further mitigated by the way the meat is cooked -- fat cap up, so all that yummy fat melts into the meat. But for leaner cuts of meat, and cooking on a grill or stovetop, I'd go with an oil-based marinade.


My Chef Instructor has made it clear to me that brine-based marinades and brines CAN be used on thinner cust od meat, but the amount of time they're used is decreased -- any longer and drying will occur. The general rule of thumb is 1 lb. of salt per gallon of water, which results in a brine of about 20% salinity. This salinity is optimized for penetrating 1/2" of meat per side per hour. That means an inch-thich steak is being penetrated from both sides and needs on 1 hour in the marinade.