I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, 'wouldn't it be much worse if life *were* fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?' So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe. – M. Cole
During this quarantine stuff, my husband and the cats and I are doing well. Us being both introverts, anxiety-prone, and somewhat misanthropic, we are pretty happy with this.
I had a beer kit left to make so that got done. It is the Koa Coconut porter from Northern Brewer, where we get a lot of our brewing kits. It is damn good. We’re already half done with the batch. The coconut flavor is strongest when it is just done with bottle conditioning but even after that, it’s a damn good porter. I’ve ordered a couple of new kits, though NB is out of a lot of things (us homebrewers are bored, I see). The two new ones are an Imperial Cream Ale, one of the few types of beer that is original to the US (AFAIK) and a hefeweizen which is always good in the summer with its fruity notes.
I also made a pie. We’ve been helping out our one neighbor who is older and she ordered some groceries for delivery from the one local supermarket chain. They managed to screw up her order so she had 4 bunches of bananas rather than 4 bananas, 8 limes when she wanted 2, and three dozen eggs when she wanted one. So she gave us some bananas, limes, and eggs. We already has enough so I was wondering what to do with the extra.
In the past I’ve made various citrus curds and since I love them so much, I often use the as the filling for a pie rather than just a pudding which is not as strong. So we have a lime curd meringue pie. I used an oil crust which is way faster than a butter crust and that’s what I grew up on.
I’ve been doing some therapy via videophone (yes, it’s just the internet but I like the retro idea) for my anxiety since this forced isolation gives me some time to think and consider how I want my life to go after this. I’ve discovered ideas like hypersensitivity and childhood emotional neglect. I’ve also discovered, thanks to my husband, a most awesome artist who gets the whole feeling, “thelatestKate”. I used some of our covid money to support her by buying a couple of mugs. She also has books which you can find on amazon.
As for the cats, they are quite happy to have us around. Pretty much any time I’m sitting down, I have a cat wanting up on my lap. the kittens are about twice the size of their mom, Hera, and are just about a year old. Here are the requisite cat video and pictures.
Time for a food and drink post. (if you are new, be aware that if you follow me, you’ll get more than food and drink. You’ll also get my unvarnished thoughts about politics and religion).
This week we corned a beef. My spouse and I were craving a Rueben sandwich and since we hadn’t done any foodie things for awhile, we decided that we could make our own corned beef. The local grocery store had buy 1 get one free for London Broils (a cut of top round) so I got two of them and pickled the one. There are a bevy of recipes on the internet (here’s one for example), but as long as you have salt, bay leaves, coriander seeds, allspice berry, etc you can make this. I like to add star anise for a little mysterious “I can’t quite identify that flavor”. One thing that isn’t completely necessary is the nitrate that will make the meat the classic dark pink that you see in a deli. I use Morton’s TenderQuick for my curing salt since it’s the easiest to find for me.
Generally, corned beef is made with beef brisket, which is quite a bit fattier than top round. Our corned beef is pretty dry, but it tastes great. With the sauerkraut, swiss cheese and thousand island dressing aka ketchup, mayo, sweet pickle relish mixed (my husband adds a little sriracha and garlic too), it works out. This is on jewish rye bread, thinly sliced with the classic caraway seeds. We assemble the sandwiches and cook them on the small grill that makes our stove perfect for us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_PfAhAAp6k
I also decided to try a couple of vegetables I hadn’t had before. I got a spiralizer and now am making long ribbon of various veg. One was a purple sweet potato, which when spiralized and then cooked, looked rather like a plate of Klingon gagh It tasted great though.
Yucca fries also made it onto my plate. I thought potatoes didn’t have much flavor but yucca seems to have no flavor at all. They do make for a crispy fry though.
Last but not least, I finally got to taste some durian. Durian is a strange tropical fruit and when it’s presented on the various food shows here, people get all dramatic about it, declaring you either love it or hate it. I got some freeze dried and, in true freeze dried fashion, it has the texture of Styrofoam. The flavor, to me, is garlic tropical fruit. I love garlic so it’s fine but I could take it or leave it. I’m kinda disappointed it isn’t more drastic. It’s rather like when I finally got to taste truffles. They taste like garlicky mushrooms. A nice thing but definitely not worth crazy amounts of money.
As for drink, I finally got my hands on a bottle of Apothic Sparkling Red. I have a weakness for bubbly wines, especially red ones. I’ve had Rosa Regale, which is sweeter than the Apothic. The color of the Apothic is a lovely true ruby red. I’ll definitely be picking up more of this.
Dinner tonight will be bread and triple crème brie. Our grocery store had a buy one get one free for this too 😊
Here’s a bit of art I was working on today, a fantasy waterfall.
Two weeks ago, we ventured up to Toronto for a vacation. Things had a bit of a rocky start since the airline ceased to be going out of our local airport, and we had to travel to Philly to get on it. It, of course, took longer to get to the airport than it took for the actual flight. I love flying, I freakin’ hate airports. The TSA lines weren’t bad though, and we got up to Toronto in the morning.
After navigating the rail line from the airport to Toronto and then the subway to our hotel, we finally got ensconced in our room. When ever we can, we stay at a Kimpton Hotel, since they are always nice, and they have nicely liberal policies, including taking pets. The St. George was, as usual, in a mid 20th C mid rise building and we were on the 7th floor. The room was about twice the size of the one we stayed in when we stayed at a Kimpton in Boston. And speaking of Boston, it felt like it was about that expensive in Toronto, but with a good exchang
l was near the University of Toronto, and this was definitely a college bar but very nice, and I liked the seating in it. The first time we went, it was great customer service. The second time, there was no customer service, so your mileage may vary.
That evening, we went out to find the reason we ended up in Toronto. I had read about a “nerd” bar, the Storm Crow Tavern that is located out in Vancouver. We were prepared to fly out there to go to it but then found out that they were going to open a location in Toronto, the Storm Crow Manor. It’s a couple of streets back from Yonge Street, which is the main entertainment/LGBT area of Toronto. I do need to show you the baby changing station:
They have very good food and drink. The décor is very much for the happy nerd in me. I’m not much of a photographer, so just go out to the link and look around. They were working on their outdoor area when we were there, which is complete now (I think.) You can also follow them on Facebook to see what they are doing. We went there three times during the 4 days we were there.
I got “Romulan Ale” as you can see. and here’s a video of it bubbling.
The next day we walked down to the CN Tower, a ridiculously high observation installation, about a fifth of a mile high. That’s it standing above the skyline. We were going to go up in it but the line was ridiculous and it was hot. So we proceeded across the street to the Steam Whistle Brewery, which had just opened a German-style biergarten. They had a very good pilsner, and I had a radler (beer and grapefruit soda) made with it, and my husband had just the beer. He also had the chicken schnitzel and I had beef tartar. It was a little over mustardy for me, but good, well chopped rather than ground.
We chose to walk up Yonge Street on the way back to the hotel. And there we found a Tokyo Smoke, another reason we went to Toronto. We partook some very low dose capsules. I’ve tried weed before but never had much of a reaction to it. This wasn’t much of a reaction either but it does seem to make it easer to think about things creatively and to get rid of the anxiety that you aren’t doing something “right” when doing art, writing, etc. The folks at the store were very professional and helpful. I really hope that PA gets recreational weed soon. The day was ended at Storm Crow again.
For Wednesday, I had made an appointment at a spa in the city, Hammam. It had advertised that it did Turkish baths and massages. My husband hadn’t had a professional massage before so I thought we’d both enjoy it. We had seen Turkish baths on various shows, most notably Tony Bourdain’s travel show, and wanted to try one. After wrapping up with towels, we spend some time in the steam room, a lovely tiled area with benches. It was HOT, but they had cold wet washcloths in a refrigerator right outside, so I took one and breathed through it while the sweat streamed off me. Then the bath attendents took us into a room with a large heated stone table where we laid down and were sluiced by hot and cold water, body temperature soap suds as well as being well scrubbed with what felt like 80 grit sand paper, but in a good way. After the bath, we were taken to another room for the massages. I got a full body massage and my husband got just the upper body since he’s a computer guy and, being tall, hunches over his desk all of the time. I’d definitely recommend it, even if it was a little pricy. But you only live once, eh?
After the spa, we wanted to get some dim sum, so we walked into Chinatown. We ended up at the Sky Dragon restaurant in a small multistory mall. I think we were the only Caucasian folks there, and we had absolutely no idea what we were eating, but it was tasty. There were several sets of dumplings, I could recognize the shu mai, and then we had a deep fried thing that seemed to be something like a crab cake, but rather shaggy on the outside. These were brought around in cards by elderly Chinese ladies, who were amused with us.
The next day we knew it was going to be rainy all day. We were just up the street from the Royal Ontario Museum, so we saved that for the rainy day. When we were there they had two special exhibitions, one for Indian treasures and the other paintings from the age of Rembrandt. The Indian show had caparisons for elephants and horses, clothing, canopies and jewels. The painting exhibit was beautiful, and I found I could appreciate it more since I’ve been dabbling with painting myself. One painter, I think it’s was Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, struck me as having what I would consider modern sensibilities. (an example of his work).
Finally, for dinner that evening, we again overcame our shyness and anxiety and went to a Japanese barbeque place right across from our hotel. It was called Gyubee, and seems to be a small chain up in Canada. Like the dim sum place, we really had no idea what we were doing, but it was fun grilling thinly sliced meats and vegetables on the gas grill in the center of the table. We had pork belly, brisket, marinated short rib, asparagus and mushrooms. For desert they had these great popsicles, Melona, and we had the mango ones.
We had idly known that the Toronto Raptors were playing in the NBA finals. Being not interested in sports in the least, we really didn’t pay attention. But that night, I woke up to hear all sorts of hooting and screaming. The celebration was on, and we could hear them seven stories up. And we were a couple of miles from the real craziness down at the arena by the CN Tower.
All in all, a good vacation, though every time I come home, I vow to never leave again. My anxiety chews me up on vacations. Hope you enjoyed reading!
A month or two ago, D’Artagnan (the company that sells fancy meats here in the US) had a really good flash sale and I got a selection of game meats: a duck, venison shanks and a wild boar roast. We had the wild boar first (actually a hybrid of European wild boar and feral pig that are running amuck in the south of the US). It was good, though dry and we did lard it with extra pig fat. The meat is very lean and all the darker color that you see in some pork cuts from regular pork. I wasn’t that impressed, but I will say that I cook a tasty pork shoulder and am somewhat spoiled about what good pork is.
This weekend we cooked the venison shanks. They were about 4 inches thick, and were New Zealand venison. My husband found a recipe for a very garlic heavy braise, and since I’ve been wanting to cook something with a *lot* of garlic (readers will know I consider it a vegetable), we went for it.
The wine used was a Simply Naked pinot grigio and of course the 4 bulbs of garlic. We have rosemary and thyme in our garden. It’s so shady, I’m glad that anything edible grows there. I also have quite a few really poisonous things, like monkshood, jimsonweed, foxglove, etc.
The meat was pretty indistinguishable to me from good beef. We cooked it until the cartilage melted, making the meat succulent. Not much fat on these, so the sauce isn’t as greasy as a beef based sauce would be. They do come with the bone in, so I scooped out the marrow. It was a little strong flavored for me, though I can see how some people would love that. We just had the rest of the pinot grigio with it and it went surprisingly well with such a dark meat. It’s nice and light. We also got a bottle of their unoaked chardonnay, and it was good too, though a little richer than we wanted for the recipe.
We also got a few new wines to try. We’ve been looking at the less than $10 that the PA Fine Wines and Good Spirits stores have. If you are of an age in PA, you’ll know these stores to be “state stores”. One of the wines was Regio Cantina Donpa Aglianico del Vulture 2013. We really got it because it had this as a description ““This initially shows funky aromas of stalky underbrush, wet soil and a whiff of damp fur that slowly blow off to reveal toast, leather and dried blackberry jam. The dense full-bodied palate evokes prune, chocolate and a hint of tobacco alongside firm tannins.” Alas, it wasn’t nearly so odd, and I was a bit disappointed. It is a good dark red wine though.
That’s it. Eat and drink well! If you have a good roast duck recipe, let me know for my next experiment.
This post came to my attention when Pastor Mike liked this post of mine. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that a Christian would like it, but I often encounter Christians who seem a little confused in what they profess to believe and what they actually believe.
Nothing like watching a TrueChristian(tm) do his best to bear false witness against others and have no clue about cause and effect. It’s a shame that Pastor Mike does claim to have all of the answers and claim that only his version of Christianity is the right one, with not one more shred of evidence than those who he decries. I am glad that he does admit that atheists wield logical arguments against his claims. Alas, Pastor Mike falsely believes that atheists are all nihilists and in his ignorance, he trips himself up.
No wonder that Christianity is losing members when a Christian leader demonstrates that intentional dishonesty and ignorance are what he depends on. You can see how Pastor Mike failed earlier on this blog.
Update – 4/13 One also has to wonder about Pastor Mike when he likes my post on his blog which is the following: “well, Pastor Mike, glad that a pastor agrees with my post here: https://clubschadenfreude.com/2018/02/18/not-so-polite-dinner-conversation-what-makes-christianity-christianity/ Always curious that a Christian would agree with what I’ve said, I wonder what your flock would say. As for your claims “You have kicked God out of schools, so kids are turning to insanity to imbue their lives with some semblance of the significance you robbed out of life.” For what is supposedly an omnipotent being, this poor god can be stopped by a human, per Pastor Mike. Not much of a god, is it? It’s nice to see you make such claims, when this god can’t even protect its own churches and keep its priests and pastors from abusing children, embezzling, etc right where it supposedly can get in where it wants. As usual, you are so desperate to bear false witness against others, you dont’ think your claims through.” What kind of fractured thinking goes with this? I do wonder if Pastor Mike thinks he is being sarcastic.
Actually, snorting condoms makes perfect sense. As does chewing Tide pods. Along with cutting.
After all, if there is no meaning to life, then why not engage in something meaningless? If an attempt to find value shows your stupidity, then all we have left is getting attention through stupid means.
Atheists will bristle at my mockery, but their insistence that morality is an evolved feature — along humanity’s unusual drive for significance — is absurd. There is no evolutionary sense of morality or man’s quest for importance. Deprive man of God, and you get teens snorting condoms.
And please, my dear atheist friends, don’t tell the gunman plowing down schoolchildren that he is inherently or obviously wrong. What is obvious is that there are no morals, no values, nothing. That is all atheism has to offer: nothing. There is no noble sense to humanity, no purpose, no beauty, no humanity…
This weekend we made a chicken vindaloo. This was from the Saveur magazine recipe and it just wasn’t quite what I had grown used to in most indian restaurants. What the recipe produced was a chicken and potato curry stew but not much of the vinegar tang that I like in vindaloo. So I ended up taking a can of tomato sauce (I didn’t have tomato paste) and cooking it down with a bit of balsamic vinegar to get the flavor profile I wanted. Then it came pretty close to what I was wanting. We had this with jasmine rice.
We’ve also been trying some new alcohols lately. With our Indian meal, we tried a new cream liqueur called Somrus. This stuff is delicious! It has a wonderful mix of cardamom, rose, and other exotics. It’s built on a rum base. We made a lassi and poured some in. My spouse just poured some over a brownie, which he has found very good.
We also tried a new wine, Macaw Tannat from Brazil. This is a nice simple red wine. The grape is supposedly notoriously tannic but this wasn’t bad at all. It’s nothing complex or expensive but a decent table wine.
We also tried a mixed six pack of beers from a local microbrewery, Howling Henry’s. Pretty good beers, and one really odd but good one, Basil Onion Pale Ale. This is one of the few beers I’ve had that I’d consider savory, the others being Shock Top’s Twisted Pretzel beer (alas, discontinued) and Dogfish Brewing’s Ta Henket, the Egyptian beer. This would be great in a beer bread.
Lastly, I’ve been stressed out about work and have been hiding by watching a lot of TV. We watched the first of the Mythica movies which was a lot of fun. This is what D&D movies should be. All the way around a perfectly decent sword and sorcery movie with amazingly decent CGI. This was partly funded by a Kickstarter request. Unfortunately, it has Kevin Sorbo in it, who has become a Christian twit in his “God is not dead” type movies, but he’s not bad looking. In the first, he’s only on screen for about 10 minutes.
I’ve been looking for a new craft to try. I’m not much of an artistic type; generating artsy things isn’t my best ability, though I can copy pretty well. I first came upon pour painting when you make paintings from various techniques of pouring, tilting and smearing paint. That’s pretty neat but It takes some space and a lot of paint. I’ll wait til the warmer months to try that.
Then I found alcohol inks which are even brighter and you can do them small scale with even less talent, at least in my case. I decided to try this in making some switchplates for my newly remodeled kitchen. The other is a ceramic tile. It’s an odd craft, I think better for someone who is happy with what chance does than any intent, though I’ve seen some folks who can really control the ink. I haven’t got that talent yet, and maybe never.
And for the alcohol in the beers. We got another mixed six from our local distributor, three were worth mentioning.
Doc G’s Orange Blossom Wheat: a nice wheat beer with a marmalade/cooked orange taste. It’s not very sweet at all, which makes easy to drink. DuBois (prounced doo-boyse) is a town here in PA.
I’m also sitting here watching “Cast a Deadly Spell”, something I’ve watched quite a few time, but I still love it. It’s a mixed genre movie with a hard boiled detective who was in the “war”, a dame, and lots of magic, including WWII gremlins, and the Necronomicon. And speaking of the Necronomicon, we also started watching Ash vs. the Evil Dead, a series on Starz. It’s as graphic, blood and sex, as you might expect from Starz, but it is pretty damn funny. I do love Bruce Campbell.
I haven’t had a food and drink post for awhile. A handful of weeks ago we decided to see if we could grill whole Cornish hens on our small barreled shaped grill. We didn’t want to butterfly them which would be simpler, but to have a little whole chicken for each of us.
Many years ago, I was a member of a medieval recreation group called the Society of Creative Anachronism. I was friends with some folks who were part of a somewhat parallel group called the Tuchux, a group that recreated fantasy barbarians, and got their name from the rather atrocious Gor books by John Norman (very bad fantasy of a fellow who ends up on a alien planet where his fantasies of submissive women come true). They are quite a bit more egalitarian than the Gor nonsense and were some coolest people I ever met in my sojourn in the SCA (it’s been about a decade since I’ve had any contact with the SCA). At one of their Yule Feasts that I was kindly invited to, we each got a small loaf of fresh bread and a roasted Cornish hen and it was the best feast I think ever had. I wanted to recreate that.
We managed to do so by putting a pile of charcoal on both side of the grill aka indirect grilling and putting the chooks between them for about 45 minutes and then moving them over the dying coals to crisp up the skin for about 15 minutes at the end. I do recommend getting the biggest charcoal chimney as you can get because then you never have to worry about having lighter fluid or having that nasty taste on their food. We use brown craft paper to light ours since some inks smoke like crazy.
Like most regions, humans come up with foods that are beloved locally but pretty much unknown outside of a day’s travel. I grew up in western PA which has this stuff called Reymer’s Blennd. This is a orange and lemon fruit based syrup that you mix with water to your taste.
It’s been around for a long time and now is made by Byrnes & Kiefer (B&K) Manufacturing, in Callery, PA, just north of Pittsburgh. It is a bit hard to get a hold of, (horrors, amazon doesn’t carry it!) but one can still get it in various grocery stores in western PA. I have yet to find a place that you can order it from online, without paying a crazy amount for it or having to get an industrial sized quantity.
Blennd is a unique thing. Orange juice concentrate and lemon juice are its flavorings (it contains 15% actual juice, and it’ll give you quite a hit of vitamin C). Despite the acidity of these, Blennd doesn’t have a harsh aftertaste like a lot of juice based beverages, that are marketed as healthy or for kids. Something that is close to the taste, and is a wider distribution is Turkey Hill’s Haymaker Punch in the lemon flavor. If you’ve read the Little House on the Prairie books, you’ll recognize that punch as something Laura and Pa drank when working in the fields. Along the lines of these types of drinks are shrubs, which are vinegar and fruit syrups that one mixes with water. We also indulge in just vinegar to sip, and have tried a lot of infused ones.
Blennd has a very smooth consistency, thanks to some of the chemical thickeners in it (sodium hexametaphosphate, xanthan gum and propylene glycol) . And it has high-fructose corn syrup, which may frighten some people, but heck, if this is going to harm a human, I certainly should be feeling some effects thanks to the gallons of Blennd I’ve drank over the years. It was the go-to drink for any church picnic or family reunion, kool-aid was a distant second. An aunt had a huge galvanized steel drink cooler that found its way everywhere from the barn when hay was being baled, to weddings. I probably got my zinc quotient for my entire life from that thing.
Since we hadn’t had it in a while, I asked my parents to bring some along when they visited recently. And since we have quite a full liquor cabinet, I decided to figure out what was the best mixer. I think anejo tequila is the best (I use Lunazul) since it works well with the citrus flavor. Vodka is a close runner up, and Blennd really hides the alcohol, which can be a good or bad thing. Bourbon is okay, but reminiscent of a rather redneck blend of Mountain Dew soda and whatever kind of whiskey one might have. And rum makes what amounts to a very smoothly textured variant on a daquiri.
Blennd, along with chip chopped ham (a loaf of ham bits sliced raggedly and as thin as possible), are archetypical of the western tail end of Appalachia. For me, it’s comfort food. Indulging in a bit of nostalgia can be a remedy for how crazy the world is.
We also made a new beer kit. The kit was Northern Brewers White House Honey Porter kit (ours was a partial mash and it seems they only have the extract kit now). This was from a recipe from the White House during President Obama’s first term (I think) when it was nattered about having a beer with the president. It is a very good porter, but I honestly can’t tell that honey has anything to do with it. Ours is as dark and transparent as a cola soda. A definite one to make again. And a reminder that there can be decent people as president and not that orange idiot that we have now.
I also bought NBs Don’t be Mean to People: A Golden Rule saison kit. They got together with a bunch of North Carolina breweries to make this to point out that North Carolina’s HB 2 was pure discrimination against the LGBT (and I’m sure I’m missing a few letters) community. NB is donating proceeds from the sales of this kit to the NC LGBT community, which I very much like. Not sure if I’ll brew that soon or if I’ll wait until this fall.
NB also has this nifty, and expensive, toy, a pico brewery! Ah, to have won the lottery and play with this stuff. 🙂
That’s all. Eat and drink well!
(I don’t get any recompense from any of the companies mentioned. I just like their stuff!)