Saturday, May 05, 2007

Comfort Food - - - Double Chocolate Bread, Peanut Butter, Blackberry Jam Sandwiches

This morning when I came in from the barn and the garden I saw my 11 year old niece perched at a counter in the kitchen. I said "Good morning." She said "My mom and dad are painting, they didn't want me around. I told them I wanted to come hang out with you and do some cooking." I said "Great! What would you like to make?" She said "I want PBJ's with that chocolate bread you brought over last week." I said "Sounds like a plan my dear." She said "I want the peanut butter you make." Me "Can't think of anything else worthy of that bread, let me check and see if there's any put up." Her "No, I want to learn how to make it myself. You just watch." Me "Let's get started then."

The first thing to do is to break out the bread machine and make


1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar (we used baker's sugar that has been stored with vanilla beans)
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1/3 cup coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (about 12 squares of a Trader Joe's Pound Plus® 70% cocoa mass Bittersweet Chocolate)*

*or you can use semisweet chocolate chips, but it won't be near as good

Put everything but the chocolate into the machine's baking pan in the order listed. Set the machine for Sweet Bread. Add the chocolate bits when the signal beeps after the first rising. Cool on a rack in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove and cool completely before slicing.

(extremely kid friendly recipe)

2 cups roasted, shelled peanuts
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon salt (if using salted peanuts omit)
1/2 cup chopped roasted, shelled peanuts (for crunchy peanut butter)

Put the first three ingredients in a food processor with the chopping blade. Whirl on annihilate for three to four minutes until a ball forms, then disintegrates slowly. Stop this process two or three times to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Continue to pulse until you have a spreadable product. Then stir in the chopped peanuts to get crunchy peanut butter. (we don't do much else around here, we be fans of crunchy.

Note: This will keep for about a month if kept in an airtight jar in the refrigerator. The oils will separate and it must be stirred before each use. Once you've had this, you'll say "Fuck Skippy." (not skippy, the bush kangaroo but that pasty crap they sell in stores)

We've covered Blackberry Jam already folks.

To assemble your sandwiches, spread two pieces of bread with butter (homemade peanut butter will tear the crap out of even the sturdiest of breads), spread the peanut butter, then the jam, put them together. Serve with BBQ potato chips and tall glasses of cold milk.

This is best enjoyed in the company of children you adore.


Friday, May 04, 2007

Apology for Light Blogging and a Friday Random Ten

I have been burned out in all phases of my life. When I got home last week my knees were aching and sore. Then, I received horrid news when an old friend called me to ask if I would play the harp for the funeral of her 20 year old son, recently killed in Bagdhad. I knew this boy, he has been in my house, he even dated Medschoolgirl for a minute. All he wanted to do was get the money to pay for his college education himself. Which, is, simply something that wasn't neccessary. The money for college was there. I don't know why he joined. I don't know why any of them join anymore. I don't know how anyone can refuse to be aware of six years of lies, schemes, frauds, neglect and incompetence in the extreme. I don't know how we can get this shit to stop. I don't know nothing 'bout birthin' no goddamn babies.

I have been forced to learn how to bury them.

Yesterday, my friends stopped by. They had received the box of their son's belongings. One of the things they brought with them was his iPod. They told me that before he was deployed my daughter, at his request had put some tracks of my playing on his iPod. He had written his mom about one song in particular. He called it "The Slide Song." He said that when he returned from patrols he would listen to it over and over to help himself relax. As they scrolled through the music however, they couldn't find a song by that title. I knew instantly what they were talking about. It was one of my daughter's favorite songs. It's called "A Sailor's Grave on the Prairie," written, and arranged by Leo Kottke. It is a calming, beautiful piece. I will be playing it, both at the church, and at the gravesite.

I was forced to delegate the change of the worship order to my friends. I have already in the course of the week snapped on the minister. I told him I would do my duty as a friend, neighbor, and musician but he must leave me out of the snake oil parts of his show. And, no, I will not wear your fucking stupid robes when I play. The young man's father requested I bring my bagpipes to the grave also.

Of course I will.

Starting with the obvious, the first song on today's list will be

A Sailor's Grave on the Prarie - - - Me
(all others are random)

Lola - - - Kinks
Bird on a Wire - - - Aaron Neville
Many Rivers to Cross - - - Jimmy Cliff
Lawyers, Guns, and Money - - - Warren Zevon (live bootleg, me on guitar)
Bang On The Drum All Day - - - Todd Rundgren
Mr. Soul - - - Neil Young (live, unplugged)
Four Strong Winds - - - Ian Tyson
Baiden Fheilimi - - - Sinead O'Connor
Tipitina - - - Professor Longhair

Bonus Track

How Long Blues - - - Furry Lewis

I will pull out of this funk eventually. I apologise for my silence.