From the Kitchen and the backyard – crispy sticky rice, cheesecake, a mutant challah, plus a possum

rice-cakeAfter cooking the Thai flavored pork shoulder for Thanksgiving, we decided we needed another side dish for it since there was about 8 pounds of pork to eat.   The December 2016 Food & Wine magazine presented yet another Thai flavored recipe and that’s what was made as a side to accompany the rest of the pork. This recipe, Crispy Coconut Sticky Rice, is great, and could serve as a meal on its own with perhaps a nice salad. I used a cheap 10” non-stick skillet to make this in; my cast iron skillet is a bit of a monster and far too big to use for the amount of rice. You just need to watch it, and it doesn’t take that long to get a nice golden, with a few darker spots, crust on the rice. It is soft in the inside, a bit crispy outside and has a lovely coconut curry flavor with a fair amount of heat. It also nukes up very nicely.

The cheesecake was a bit of serendipity. I had been craving a crustless cheesecake like I used to get when I was on my internship in Washington DC all of those year ago (no, not the White House). I would go to the local Giant grocery store and they would have lots of items that were for single folks. You could buy a slice of cheesecake and I could make it last a week, nibbling on it. (that’s when I also discovered Frusen Gladje praline ice cream which I also crave and which is no longer produced).

cheesecakeThen, at weekend before Thanksgiving, my mom hands me this yellowed slip of newspaper. “Do you remember this?” she asks.   It was a clipping of Father Guido Sarducci’s cheesecake recipe. Now, for those of you who perhaps were too young, non-existent, or not from the US, Father Guido Sarducci was a character most known from Saturday Night Live, the Vatican’s gossip columnist and rock critic, played by Don Novello (who also did a character on the Disney Atlantis, Vinny Santorini, an explosives expert).

This is the recipe which has been around for at least a couple of decades now.. I haven’t the slightest idea why it is named for him:

1 lb. ricotta cheese
2 c. sour cream
16 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted and cooled,
3 extra lg. eggs
3 tbsp. flour
3 tbsp. cornstarch
5 tsp. vanilla
5 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Makes 1 (10 inch) cheese cake. Let all ingredients come to room temperature. First process ricotta in food processer to make smoother (this doesn’t have to be done but I like sinfully smooth cheesecake). Then, combine ricotta cheese and sour cream in a mixing bowl. Beating slowly, add cream cheese, sugar and butter. Increase speed to medium and add eggs, flour, cornstarch, vanilla and lemon juice. Beat on highest speed possible without splattering for 5 more minutes. Pour mixture into a 10 inch springform pan.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree (F) oven for 1 hour. Turn heat off and leave in oven with door closed for 1 more hour. Cool on rack.

I had a standard spring-form pan of about 9 inches that you get in the sets of three that are commonly seen around the holidays. I did put about two teaspoons of micro-planed lemon zest in since I had a whole lemon right there. I think if I made this again, I would cut the temp to 325 degrees F and up the active bake time to 1 ½ hours. That might cut the browning just around the edge and make it more even. The batter did not escape the pan (I did put a layer of aluminum foil around the pan in case) though at the time and temp indicated on the recipe, it did rise like a soufflé about an inch and a half out of the pan much to my consternation (it sinks as it cools). I would also make the batter and stir to release more air, and then let it sit overnight, then let the batter come back to room temperature to make a denser cake.

As you see, there is a big crack in it. Oh well. That would be easily covered by sweetened sour cream/crème fraiche or some fruit. Or both!

The two of us ate the entire thing in a week; it makes a lovely breakfast. I’d also like to try it with less sugar and some sweetener in it, like Splenda. Continue reading

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – fundamentalist white rural America

burialWhite, rural fundamentalist America is where I grew up.  This article on Raw Story (which seems to have come from Alter Net) gets it very much right.

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/11/the-dark-rigidity-of-fundamentalist-rural-america-a-view-from-the-inside/

“When you have a belief system that is built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power. The problem isn’t “coastal elites don’t understand rural Americans.” The problem is rural America doesn’t understand itself and will NEVER listen to anyone outside their bubble. It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use…if you are viewed as an outsider, your views are automatically discounted. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they WILL NOT even entertain the possibility it might be true. ”

Is this true for everyone in white rural America? Nope, but unfortunately it’s become the way to bet. Sometimes you can get free of such nonsense, sometimes you can’t and sometimes you choose not to.  We have had people, friends and relatives, we thought were humane people who supported the ideal of America, of the lady with the lamp beside the golden door, that where everyone deserved to be considered equal and to have the same rights.  We never thought they would decide that they could ignore racism, misogyny, lies, cheating employees, xenophobia, etc, for the promise that someone will fulfill “every dream they ever dreamed“.  I don’t think even a three year old child would believe this.  But they did.

I’ve read where some people have said it has felt like someone died when Trump won.  I think that is pretty accurate.  The people we thought we knew “died” that day, and their places were taken by people we didn’t recognize anymore.

From the Kitchen and From the Bar – a less than standard Thanksgiving: Thai pork roast

filled-bunsThis year we decided to part from the norm of having our usual chicken dinner and try a new recipe we found in my subscription to Food & Wine magazine. This new recipe was for Thai Pulled Pork Sandwiches by Chef Jamie Bissonnette. This where my new Thai ingredients came into play. The online store, importfood.com,  has great deals on boxes of darn near everything you might need to cook Thai.

It’s a pretty straightforward recipe, with a pork roast being covered in a spice paste, roasted for hours to become fork-tender and then having a sauce added to the shredded flesh. My departures from this were minimal. I used a far larger pork roast, a pork shoulder with the skin on that weighed nearly 10 pounds. My eyes are always far larger than my stomach when it comes to purchasing my favorite meat.

raw

the raw roast with the paste on it.

The size of the shoulder meant that I thought I needed more curry paste (the curry, sugar and fish sauce mixture in the recipe) to cover it. I doubled the recipe and found that it was not needed. When I put the paste on the pork, I did not put it on the skin side.

The skin side was scored and then shoulder was roasted skin side up in my faithful black speckled roaster. When it was a couple of hours in, I took a fork and lifted the skin off and painted more curry pasted on the fat layer. The recipe has that one can take off the meat juices, remove the fat and mix the juices back in with the fork. Since I roasted this so long (4.5 hours), I got 9/10 fat, which I deemed not worth the effort to get that 1/10 juice separated (though it did inspire me to order a fat separator).roast

The coconut based sauce was done as indicated in the recipe but I added about a tablespoon of lime juice at the end since the sauce tasted a little flat to me. I think this would have been balanced using the lime wedges indicated as condiments at the end of the recipe but I found it easier to just add.

Packet of spices that are charred for the sauce.

Packet of spices that are charred for the sauce.

My husband also requested bao (you can find the link for the recipe here) rather than the brioche buns indicated. I made the steamed buns without filling using Andrea Nguyen’s recipe from Asian Dumplings. It works just as always and they are so very tender and mild. I can see little kids loving these with a little jam.

unfilled bao

unfilled bao

As a condiment, we just used cilantro since my husband isn’t much of a veggie eater and I forgot to pick up the cucumber that I wanted. I wasn’t going near a store because people lose their minds here when it comes to Thanksgiving and then the curious American habit of Black Friday.

Definitely a keeper recipe. We had a couple of Great Lakes Brewing beers with it. Their Celebration Ale is a higher alcohol ale with honey and spices. It’s sweet but not as sweet as some, like our local Troegs Mad Elf which is more than I can handle. The other was their Ohio City Oatmeal Stout, a perhaps smoier than usual stout but still very nice. The sweetness of both beers was good with the slight sweetness of the pork.

Incidentally, I did try to make the removed pork skin into cracklings. It worked somewhat. I took my cast iron griddle, got it smoking hot and put the skin bits on it. They puffed up, but somewhat irregularly, so some were nice and crunchy, and some weren’t. It was enough for a small chef’s snack🙂

That’s it. Eat and drink well!

(postscript: in case you are new, and don’t want to see my opinions on religion and politics, just choose to read the “from the” posts. These will be about food, drink and whatever the subject is.)

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – screw your courage to the sticking place!

The goats won, barely.   And it is a reason to be angry.  However, it is also reason to be resolved, because it won’t last long.   In six months, half of those who voted for Trump will have buyer’s remorse; indeed Trump will have it himself when he realizes that being president isn’t being dictator. He isn’t the CEO of a company anymore, he is the employee now.   He may try to be the dictator, but history has indeed taught us how to handle those people.   You can depend on people to forget history, hopefully they won’t have time to forget it again when Trump implodes.

And heck, it gives me even more evidence that religion isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be.  So much for objective morality, eh?

Obama said that this election was judgment on his legacy. That legacy will be burnished to a new shine in 4 years, when it will be demonstrated that all of the magic prizes and ponies promised by his successor were simply lies told to be elected.

There are still humane people in the world.   We will still do the right thing, despite the attempts of others to hold us back, to return to ignorance and fear.  Shake them off and move ahead.  There is plenty of space to move in that direction.  Screw your courage to the sticking place!

But just in case I’m wrong about humanity, and I often am, anyone of my overseas friends have a room for me in a few years?

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – When you aren’t getting all of the story

twain-convictionsI’ve been thinking about how people often don’t get the whole story. They can do this by willfully ignoring information, trusting unwisely, or by simple laziness.   This election is full of all of these, perhaps most blatantly shown in the idiocy of people here in PA buying more and more guns, because, you of course remember when Obama took all of the ones we had….not.

When you don’t get the whole story and then find it out yourself, your world can suffer a heck of paradigm shift, depending on the discovered information. When I was in 4th or 5th grade, I was drafted into the school choir. I just wanted to be left alone to read, so I was not happy about the whole thing (especially since the music teacher didn’t allow kids who wanted to be part of the choir in). I found myself reading the song book, and one of the songs was “This land is your land, this land is my land” by Woody Guthrie. It’s a simple tune so it was something you can teach kids.   But they don’t teach all of it. And there I discovered that a patriotic song can have some less than flattering lyrics in it. This was back in the 70s so I was vaguely aware of some people disagreeing with the government but to find it in a song that was always presented as perky jingoism, it was a game changer.

Religion often does this same thing, presenting things one way and really hoping no one does any research to discover what is claimed is wrong. Over the years, I’ve had a fair amount of push back from some Christians who get indignant when I point out that their religion is a cherry picked mess and this is largely from them blindly trusting their leaders, who depend on them being ignorant. I’ve been told that no one would do such a thing, to leave out the uncomfortable parts.

I’ve been toying with writing a post about this but was waiting until I could find a good example. I stumbled upon a blog by a pastor in England, Dave, who attracted my attention by writing some posts about atheism and things I knew weren’t true about Christianity. We discussed various topics on his blog (here and here for a couple) and then he shut down the comments section (although he was kind enough to leave up my comments). He may have had other reasons but the most obvious is that he didn’t want to answer questions and allow his congregation to see the interaction. I kept my follow on his blog anyway, and I was interested when he did a short series of posts on how to teach/preach about Revelation.

That book is weird at best and other than to get their jollies imagining getting their final reward, most Christians haven’t much of a clue what it has in it. And it would seem that Dave would like to keep it that way although it can a bit hard even for pastors since, if you mention the final rebellion against this god after an aeon of rule by JC, it is a little strange if you don’t mention the cause.

There is the statement that the sermon would entail requesting the congregants to read the book, but there is also the caveat that one should not look overly much at the details in the book, that they would distract from what the pastor would declare as the overarching themes. And if those verses don’t fit the themes that were presupposed before the reading, they will be ignored, as Dave skipped over the problematic death and destruction, and his god working with Satan, in his review of the chapters.

I got my example of expurgation of the inconvenient, and Dave also did a great job in showing that Christians don’t agree much on what the book means, or how to interpret it or even who wrote it. For all of the claims of how there is some universal truth to be found in the bible, that baseless claim is thrown into sharp relief in Revelation.

(Dave, if you do read this, I am most curious on how the sermons went, if you do indeed mention that God works with Satan.)

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – they’ll still be here, and that’s fine – now we remember

The fellow is Ted Nugent, who once had a mildly popular rock song. He was sure that he was on some hit lit by Obama et al. His prediction failed too. Now emblematic of many Trump supporters.

The fellow is Ted Nugent, who once had a mildly popular rock song. He was sure that he was on some hit lit by Obama et al. His prediction failed too. Now emblematic of many Trump supporters.

Even though I have known that the US had people who were ignorant and hateful, they were always in the background. In my lifetime, which consists of the late 60s and onward, we kept moving forward, incrementally sure, but we did move. The David Dukes, the vast majority of both my spouse’s and my rural white ill-educated families, the fearful and ignorant conservatives I overhear at work, they were always there, but I was sure that they’d always be a minor thing, some humans will always be dumb. This is a post about what’s going on in the US politically, in case you didn’t guess.

Then came the wannabee despot, and all of these people were more than happy to follow him, a pied piper calling the rats out of the sewers. They want to think themselves something special but they aren’t; we’ve seen them waving flags on newsreel tapes from Nuremberg, from Red Square in Moscow, etc.   There are a certain fraction of people who want to be led, to be told that they are special and that they deserve better. That will believe claims that the demagogue of the day will grant “every dream you ever dreamed”.   You’d think humans would get it by now.

But oh no.

We have Republicans who are horrified that they are associated with this wannabee despot. S.E. Cupp, a commentator who has been on CNN and I think on MSNBC is upset that Republican women get it from “both sides”. Ms. Cupp, if you are getting abuse from Republicans, then you might want to consider why? Is it that the party is not friendly to women?   Your complaints are about as interesting as a homosexual person who is Republican who complains that the party doesn’t support them either. I’ve never been able to figure out the Log Cabin Republicans. Who is using who?

Oh and I’d consider being called a loser by an idiot like Trump a badge of honor. I have no idea why you would care or would complain about being called such a thing by such a twit. (and yes, Ms. Cupp is one big ol’ hypocrite as she has been for as long as I’ve been aware of her. She is an atheist but says she “really aspires to be a person of faith some day”. When she invents her own god that she can be proud of?).

Of course, we do have Republicans, who in theory should know better, but have no problem in following Trump and espousing his nonsense, which would indicate that no, they didn’t know better and were for this crap all along. We have more lies by a Christian, Newt Gingrich, that lovely fellow that ignores Christianity when convenient, that as soon as Democrats get into power, that somehow magically Ms. Clinton will remove “our father” from the Lord’s Prayer. This was in a speech to the Association of Mature American Citizens, a particularly fearful selection of senior citizens who evidently are sure that there was a magical golden age when they were young, forgetting the hatred given to people of different ethnicities, women, LGBTQ, etc. Ah, but these folks who so hate government (horrors if anyone gets healthcare through the Affordable Care Act) are really really concerned that this government that they are sure shouldn’t exist might not give them their Social Security payments and Medicare. Yep, these are the greedy twits that are your ignorant uncle at the table. I do have to wonder if the whole thing is a scam because it’s such a stereotype of your average Baby Boomer. Hmm, Newt and now Donny, both who have done many things against what are supposedly conservative Christian morals. Now, why would such people support those that make a mockery of their religion? Could it be that they are more interested in power than their supposed savior? Continue reading